Traditional decoy events

The two day Festival in Gloucestershire is held on 1st to 2nd February when WWT Slimbridge’s bird numbers are at their peak counts.

Birdwatchers will have a headstart spotting species thanks to Guides based in WWT Slimbridge’s hide's overlooking the internationally-renowned wetland reserve.

In the South Lake Discovery Hide binoculars and telescopes are provided or you can hire binoculars on arrival.

Over both days traditional decoy events will run demonstrations showing a dog herding up ducks in water, in order to capture them. The birds are then weighed, measured and ringed before being set free. Smaller birds will also be caught for research using mist netting techniques in a demonstration open to the public.

Inside the Centre there will be the chance to shop for wildlife themed goodies and optics at a range of stalls. The weekend features a programme of talks including one looking at WWT’s current conservation projects which will include a live link to the Spoonbilled-sandpiper chicks being reared off-site at WWT Slimbridge. Another talk highlight (Saturday only) is an appearance by Jon Cleave from the Cornish folk band Fishermen’s Friends. He will be introducing a short film which will be played at the Festival which he plays a lead role in. The film is set next to the Severn and features a trained swan. Both days will finish with a Wild Bird Feed at 4pm. Visitors will gather in the warm Peng Observatory to see the spectacle of thousands of birds on the Rushy Lake including the rare Bewick’s Swans. Many of these birds travel long distances to reach their winter home at WWT Slimbridge. The warden leading the event gives a commentary before and during his feed.

A special e-ticket is available for the Festival of Birds online at