Thursday 22 May 2014

Visit to Slimbridge.

On our recent visit to the WWT Slimbridge Wetlands Centre we discovered that with the gift aid added to our total, Wader Quest, through the support of many wonderful people, raised £3,526.06 for the WWT Spoon-billed Sandpiper captive breeding programme. Without wishing to sound smug, we find ourselves very pleased with this achievement and felt that the project has been a success.

Slimbridge Wetlands Centre

We had gone to Slimbridge to give a talk to the staff and volunteers and those that were able to attend seemed to enjoy it well enough.

"On the one hand we could buy a house, and on the other, travel the world to see waders..." Which would you choose?

After the talk Elis and I were invited to view some video and live webcams of the Spoonies, which are showing signs of nesting and so were understandably under lock down. It was great to see them displaying and singing in their breeding plumage. We also got to visit the Common Crane captive breeding programme, the added bonus here being that the Spoonies are housed next to the cranes, so, from the crane area it was possible to hear the Spoonies singing; result! This was a first for us and really made our day.

Common Crane Grus grus; chick in the programme.

Our thanks go to Nigel Jarrett and Baz Hughes for arranging this opportunity for us to see the cranes and, inadvertently, hear the Spoonies singing, a great thrill for us eliciting a tremendous grin from both of us whenever we heard it.

Common Crane Grus grus; chick in the programme.

The crane project is well established now and the youngsters have to be exercised, it was this that we got to witness as the staff and volunteers walked their charges.

Crane chick being exercised by its 'parent'.

In order to enter the exercise area we had to don rather unflattering suits. Nigel also demonstrated the feeding procedure for the chicks!

No comment!

What's this a Spoon-billed Crane? Are they interbreeding?

Our thanks also go to Ellie Wise for arranging this visit to Slimbridge and the talk and also for all the support and help she has given us throughout the whole adventure. Her help and advice have prevented us from making complete fools of ourselves on more than one occasion as she gently and discreetly steered us in a less radical direction.

Not the greatest shot I admit, but this adult Common Crane flying over was a sight for sore eyes.

During our conversation with Nigel I commented on the fact that our Wader Quest to raise money for the Spoonies seemed to have three moments of finality.

The first was the realisation that we would see no more new species when we saw the Ibisbill in India; the second was reaching our fundraising target on the penultimate day; the third was getting home at the end of our last trip, something that left us feeling pretty flat I confess.

Now, following this visit yet another sense of conclusion has overcome us with this being the last contact we will have with WWT in regard to the fundraising we did on their behalf for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Although Wader Quest will be continuing to raise money for other projects, WWT will still appreciate your help I'm sure, so if you still want to donate to help the Spoonies, you can do so here.

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