Like a duck to water


Bewicks swan
A head shot portrait of this Bewicks Swan

The last of our field trip Fridays for this term took us down to Gloucestershire where we visited Slimbridge WWT. Slimbridge is a wetland site that is home to many bird species from across the world. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a conservation charity that saves wetlands, which are essential for life itself. Their ethos starts with the simple act of feeding a duck. That innocent connection with nature can help to save many rare birds from extinction.

South american comb duck, female
South American comb duck, female. Displaying her green and blue feathers and a speckled head after feeding.


As this place is a little far from Nottingham it did mean a very early start so we could get there and spend a full day at this site. Upon our arrival however we were met by the world renowned Heather Angel, who had agreed to meet us, give us some photography tips and spend the day with us around Slimbridge.

(Left: Emma Vincent @emmasimaging, Middle: Heather Angel @angelantics, Right: (Myself) Peter Simons @visualgecko)  An image taken of myself, Heather angel and my good friend and Course mate Emma

To start with Heather Angel gave us a brief talk about some of the work that she does and how she carries out her work. She also introduced us to the fill flash technique so that in animals where the surrounding fur or feathers are dark then you always get a reflection in the eye, drawing you more into the image and towards the subject.

ruddy shelduck
The golden brown tones of a Ruddy Shelduck, swimming towards me looking for food.

Once she had talked to us we were then let loose to discover what Slimbridge WWT had to offer. There was a vast array of bird species found here and all within an accessible photographical distance. We had been given some bird seed each so that we could attract the birds nearer to us making photographing them even easier.

Hawiaan goos feeing hand
Hand feeding a Hawaiian Goose

Birds are one of the few species however that I don’t get overly excited about, I just don’t find them as exciting as other things like plants or other mammals and insects. But just by being at the wetlands site did bring out my inner biologist and started to really appreciate the many different bird species that exist.

This Unusual pose of this Flamingo really made me think he was dancing to some Shakira

I think from the day however my favourite bird was the common eider. Earlier in the year I had to identify these for the infographic piece of coursework and so when I spotted them at Slimbridge I instantly knew what they were. As I got closer to them however the first thing noticed was the great difference between the males and females. The male eiders were presenting a beautiful green hint to their necks which contrasted lovely against the blue waters. After a short period of admiring them and taking a few photographs, all of a sudden they started calling to each other. The gentle almost purring noise that they were making was magical and I could have stayed there for hours just listening and watching these curios little birds.

common eider
This Male Common Eider duck, puffing himself up to make his unusual mating call to the attract a female Eider

After a spot of lunch and a recharge however I met up with emma Vincent and we spent the afternoon together exploring more of the birds this site had to offer. Not long after we had stepped outside however a curious Hawaiian goose came up to us (demanding food). We took some bird seed out of our little packets and they very friendly fed out of our hands. I took this opportunity to photograph Emma feeding the curios little birds to show how close up you can get to the birds here at Slimbridge WWT.

Hawiian gose posing
A Portrait of a Hawaiian Goose, coming towards us looking for some food.
Emma feeding pigeons
Emma Vincent feeding the birds, at this point it was pigeons but a short while before there were mallards, Hawaiian geese and other birds she was hand feeding.







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