Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th February
As we set off on Saturday out towards the sea there was a distant Great Northern Diver
accompanied by Great Crested Grebes.
Both of these species were seen much closer at Starcross.  Two Great Northern Divers were close to
the boat, and in the background a Great Crested Grebe accompanying a Slavonian Grebe.
Greenshank as usual at Powderham and a large group of Golden Plovers were amongst the waders
at Topsham where there were two Goldeneye.
A flock of about thirty Knot were noted and amongst the gulls were two adult Mediterranean Gulls,
species not often seen on our trips.
On Sunday visibility was reduced but still good enough to see the Peregrine Falcons at Exmouth Church
for the second day running.
The two Great
 Northern Divers and the Slavonian Grebe were at Starcross and the Golden Plovers were today joined
by approximately a thousand Lapwings resting on the mud, boosting the number of birds at Topsham.
Three Goldeneye today, two males and a female.  A fly past by one male was an impressive sight.
Being a later trip a huge flock of gulls were gathering at Turf prior to roosting and hundreds of Brent Geese were
on the water’s edge.
The Pintails were closer today in their regular spot and Grey Plover numbers as expected on the increase this month.
On recent trips, including this one, Sanderling have been in small groups maximum six, with some individual birds
in mixed flocks.
My last trip of the season, already looking forward to experiencing another year of wonderful trips.



Ian Waite
Photos by Sue Smith.

Saturday 2nd December 2017

The light was lovely for today’s cruise, which saw very large numbers of birds, right from the hordes of gulls and Brent Geese around Pole Sands up to the large flocks of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits at Topsham. Wigeon, Brents and Oystercatchers all seemed to be in larger numbers than usual – thousands of each.

The immature Great Northern Diver and the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe were both off Cockwood, while at least 21 Great Crested Grebes (more than I’ve ever seen on the estuary) were scattered between Lympstone and the Clyst. Around 100 Pintail were in the same area, while c50 Golden Plover flew in to roost on the mud to join the hundreds of Lapwings already present. A dozen or more Greenshanks were in the central areas, while 30 or more Knot were among large numbers of Dunlin towards Topsham. A Black Swan was with Mutes near Powderham

Before and after the cruise started, a Kingfisher and Guillemot, respectively, were seen from the boat at Exmouth.

A pair of Peregrines were very active off Exmouth, later sitting together on a sandbank; there may have been a third bird later, disturbing Starlings near Turf. We had three brief sightings of seal heads, perhaps relating to two Common (Harbour) Seals, while a Grey Seal hauled out on a floating platform off Dawlish Warren had as good a look at us as we did of it!


Dave Smallshire

Friday March 10th
Thick mist to start the trip although some birds were still seen and the calls
of Curlew and Oystercatcher coming out of the gloom was atmospheric.
As we progressed up river the visibility improved.
Near Powderham a big surprise when two Slavonian Grebes were between us and the shore. Excellent
close views of this often distant species.  One of the birds was showing beautiful summer colours.
Approximately 300 Golden Plover lifted off from the mud at Turf and gave a flying display before
returning from whence they came.
As expected Avocet numbers were reduced but showing well with usual waders.
Brent Geese on the river at various places with hundreds at Turf and a few Wigeon were noted.
Wader numbers were down but Gull numbers were up.
Ian Waite

Sunday 28th February, 2017

A fine though windy afternoon’s cruise, during which notable sightings included the 2 Slavonian Grebes as usual off Cockwood, later with 6 Goldeneye. There were also 7 Great Crested Grebes, including a group of 5 together. Two Greenshanks were off Powderham, one of them by a sandbank in mid-estuary where Sanderlings were also feeding. At least 130 Pintail were off the Lympstone Marines camp.

Amongst the hordes of Dunlin spread over the mudbanks at the northern end of the estuary were a few Ringed Plover, 100+ Grey Plover, 50+ Knot and a roosting group of 3-400 Golden Plover. Plenty of Avocets and both godwits were in the relatively sheltered channel at Topsham, where lots of Teal were feeding.

Common Gulls were present in good numbers, along with a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Dave Smallshire

Birdwatching Cruise Monday 27th February
Once again waders at Topsham provided a real treat being in large numbers and very close to the boat.
The Avocets were closely grouped interspersed with hundreds of Black-tailed and some Bar-tailed Godwits.
A Sparrowhawk flying low over the mud briefly spooked the Dunlin but it was quickly seen off by the Gulls.
At least four individual Greenshank were noted at various points on the trip and just two Sanderling as we
returned to Exmouth.
Brent Geese provided impressive flying displays and many Pintail were by the Clyst with some on return on the
Powderham side much closer.
As we docked Turnstones looked down on us from the dockside.
Ian Waite

Guided Bird Watching Review – Sunday 26th February

There were plenty of kite-surfers off Pole Sands this afternoon, taking advantage of the fresh westerly wind. The rain held off as we headed up to Topsham. A large flock of Brent Geese flew up from Starcross and landed on the mud. Ten Sanderlings had returned to feed on the central sandbank after being absent in previous days, the Greenshank was still in its favoured Kenn channel and four Great Crested Grebes were also in the central parts of the estuary.

A sizeable flock of Pintail off Exton totalled about 200 birds. As the river channel narrowed at Turf, we had close encounters with Red-breasted Mergansers and saw our first Avocets feeding in the shallows; hundreds more of the latter were scattered over the lovely oozy mud towards Topsham. Dunlin were also widely scattered here, seething across the mud like little clockwork toys. Bar-tailed Godwits and Grey Plovers were also much in evidence today, though Black-tailed Godwits were present in relatively small numbers. After 30 Teal near Turf, over 100 more were feeding close to habitation at Topsham.

On the return back to Exmouth, another large flock of Brent Geese flew up from Exminster Marshes. Checking carefully between Starcross and Cockwood, we saw first a Little Grebe, and then two Slavonian Grebes, plus a female Goldeneye.

Friday 24th February and Saturday 25th February
Both trips featured spectacular flocks of wading birds at Topsham flying above and around the boat then returning to the mud
giving amazing views to all on the boat. On Friday a Peregrine was spotted but on Saturday there seemed to be no apparent reason for the display
The beautiful plumage of the Avocets provided such a contrast to the more subdued colours of the other waders.
Even the Bar-tailed Godwits were up at Topsham with a main flock of approximately 200 with smaller numbers
of Knot.
Also on both days, large numbers of Brent Geese, particularly at Turf, two Slavonian Grebes,
several Great Crested Grebes, and the usual impressive Red-breasted Mergansers.
A few Wigeon were noted and on the Saturday a 100 plus Pintail were seen near the mouth of the Clyst.
Lapwings and Golden Plovers made an appearance on the same day, as well as two distant Goldeneye at Starcross.
The Bonaparte’s Gull featured on Friday as well as a slumbering Seal.
Two excellent trips.
Ian Waite

Guided Bird Watching Review – Sunday 12th February

The cold easterly wind persisted for this afternoon’s cruise. There were many gulls off Dawlish Warren again as well as inside the estuary. Photographs confirmed that the blob on Exmouth church tower was indeed a Peregrine!

The 2 Slavonian Grebes were off Cockwood, as usual, with 3 Goldeneye nearby (another 2 were on the opposite side of the estuary, though very distant). A Greenshank was feeding in its regular haunt in the outflow of the River Kenn, while about 150 Pintail were around the mouth of the Clyst.

The mudbanks at the north end of the estuary supported large numbers of Avocets, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits, plus over 100 Grey Plover and a small group of roosting Golden Plovers. Two Greylag Geese that flew up from the riverbank as we approached Topsham were unusual for the intertidal area. The female Long-tailed Duck was seen distantly by Topsham Ferry as we turned around for the return journey.

Dave Smallshire

Saturday 11th February, 2017

There was a raw easterly wind blowing this afternoon, but at least the morning’s snow flurries had ceased.

The afternoon’s birdwatching began with a splendid male Black Redstart that appeared on scaffolding as passengers were waiting to board the boat. Apparently there was also a Peregrine nearby, having caught a pigeon earlier.

There were hundreds of gulls, mainly Herring Gulls, feeding and roosting off Dawlish Warren, taking advantage of the lowest tide for several years; we failed to spot anything rare amongst them though. A Harbour (Common) Seal popped up briefly near Exmouth. The two Slavonian Grebes and a pair of Goldeneye were off Cockwood, and a few Great Crested Grebes further up the estuary. A Greenshank was in the Kenn outflow as usual.

Hundreds of Avocets, Dunlins and both godwits were scattered over the mudbanks at the northern end of the estuary, and a flock of Golden Plover flew over. Flocks of Brent Geese flew up and down from the fields over the sea wall and some were resting along the river channel. Lots of Common Gulls were amongst even larger numbers of Black-headed Gulls as we approached Topsham, where again the female Long-tailed Duck was with Red-breasted Mergansers. The Long-tailed Duck behaved very well and actually flew right around the boat giving us lovely views – a definite highlight! A further pair of Goldeneye were also at Topsham.

Dave Smallshire

Sunday 29th January, 2017


We had to contend with rain for the trip upriver, though it was dry for the return and some blue sky even appeared!

Shags were well in evidence in outer part of the estuary, as usual, as were the first of several dozen Great Black-backed Gulls. The two Slavonian Grebes were reasonably close to us as we approached Cockwood, and two single Great Crested Grebes were seen further on.

We had distant views of the Pintail flock (maybe as many as 50?) and about 20 Knot. Apart from these, waders, Shelduck and Teal were very scattered across the mudflats at the head of the estuary, again with no concentrated flocks. Grey Plovers and Bar-tailed Godwits were present in good numbers, but we only found a handful of Black-tailed Godwits and no Greenshank. Very unusual, although the godwits were no doubt feeding in the wet fields over the sea wall.

A Kingfisher was seen sitting next to a sluice near Turf, and on the return journey we had the briefest of glimpses of Harbour (Common) and Grey Seals surfacing near Bull Hill sandbank.


Dave Smallshire