Birding habits – new and old

View of the Camp Lane Pools, Grimley

Great White Egret at Grimley

About four miles from where I live is an important wetland site which is attracting some rather impressive birds. This is the Camp Lane Pools at Grimley, and even while I’ve been going there’s been a Great White Egret, which stayed for a few weeks. Being so close I’ve begun to drop in there on a regular basis, adopting it as my local patch.

Wetland habitats are unusual in the Midlands, and within the county this one is second only to Upton Warren. In the last year or so highlights have included grey plover, curlew sandpiper, little stint and a barred warbler. An impressive number of grebes have bred there, both great crested and little (which would be my nomination for Britain’s most under-rated bird).

There are several other pools between here and Holt which also attract notable birds, and with the ongoing gravel extraction by Tarmac nearby there is likely to be the development of more. With some strategic management it could become a very important area for bird life, but it does need some visionary thinking: at present the Camp Lane Pools site is up for sale, and local birders are understandably anxious about what may happen in the near future.

Three heron species at Grimley: great white egret, grey heron and little egret

Green sandpiper on the Rushy at Slimbridge

On Monday (a day off) I went down to Slimbridge, which is attracting a large number of birds at the moment. As it happened many of the headline birds were only viewable from the distance, but I had a wonderfully close view of a green sandpiper on the Rushy Pen. It was wading up and down a narrow channel just in front of the hide: being able to see it clearly even without binoculars helped me to appreciate how tiny it is.

I ended the day by going down to the Holden Tower, which seemed like a futile visit as the birds were so distant. However, a couple of others who were in the hide suddenly started taking an excessive interest in one of the window frames. They beckoned me over – and there was a brown long-eared bat, trying to roost in the corner. It didn’t seem to appreciate the attention as it tried to bury itself further into the corner, but as the wood was unyielding it adopted a more comfortable position.

Brown long-eared bat at Slimbridge