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Slimbridge winter wildlife

Winter brings its own special beauty to Slimbridge. With up to 30,000 wild wintering ducks, geese and swans feeding and roosting on the reserve, it is a magical time to visit.

Head to the hides this festive period, see below inspo of where to go!

Numbers of Bewick's swans have started to increase with at least 58 individuals present on site this week. They can be individually identified by their unique bill patterns, and our commentated wild bird feeds - overlooking the Rushy Lake, are the perfect place to see them up close. Head to the Peng Observatory at 4pm to experience this seasonal highlight and learn more about these beautiful birds, can you recognise any of the swans from previous winters?

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The Rushy Hide is also a great place to watch the Bewick's swans, along with species such as pintail, shelduck and the occasional colourful drake Mandarin, plus the regulars - tufted duck, pochard and teal.

The Tack Piece (viewed from the Estuary Tower, Stephen Kirk, Robbie Garnett and Martin Smith hides) is an amazing spot to experience the winter spectacle at Slimbridge. Expect to see hundreds of wigeon and teal, large numbers of pintail and a few snipe - you may notice them on the cut islands at the Martin Smith Hide.

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Get up high at the accessible Estuary Tower for spectacular views of the Severn Estuary. Sightings so far this season - to name a few, have included a goshawk hunting along the seawall, brent geese, dark-bellied geese and even a Ross's goose. Out on the Severn look out for parties of pintail and flocks of wigeon.

Overlooked by the Kingfisher Hide, the Bottom New Piece field has been pulling in great numbers of birds this season. Look out for large flocks of dunlin, lapwing, as well as the odd little stint and redshank. Golden plover flocks are also settling here as they arrive from their nights feeding out in the Cotswolds. A water rail has also been sighted in the reedbed pool, and the bird feeders are also busy this time of year.

Looking out over the Top New Piece from the Zeiss Hide, expect to see hundreds of wigeon and dunlin, along with numbers of pintail and flocks of lapwing. Listen out for a cetti's warbler calling from the reed-bed and even a marsh harrier hunting. The Zeiss Hide is also a popular spot for the elusive bittern, so keep your eyes peeled! Once bittern and twice shy...

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Don't forget to venture across to the South Lake, a great location for seeing a range of species. Sightings this month have included flocks of cattle egret, large numbers of teal, shoveler, a couple of great crested grebe, cormorant, tufted duck, pochard, grey heron, shelduck, lapwing and more!

Call in at the Willow Hide to see if the water rail is showing - despite being one of the more elusive wetland birds, one or two can often be seen very well from this hide. So do pop in and have a look on your way to the Estuary Tower.

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See the latest sightings here

End your day on a high...

At dusk why not watch the sunset over Slimbridge and look out for starlings and jackdaws doing their amazing acrobatic displays over the grounds - you can even catch it from the car park, as you leave for the day. There are few finer pleasures than watching the sun set in the sky and every sunset at Slimbridge is unique!

Share you seasonal snaps and stories with us using #MySlimbridge

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WILD WINTER WEEKEND

WWT's Wetlands and Wellbeing Winter Guide