Another great cruise today with plenty of birds on show. The Three Eiders were seen off Starcross with Great Crested Grebes in winter and Summer plumage. The Slavonian Grebe was seen near the River Kenn confluence with great views of 3 Greenshank with Redshank together showing the difference between the two. Red Breasted Mergansers seen throughout the Estuary and alway great to see.  The Pintail flock were again seen between Lympstone and the Clyst confluence, the sun really showed them off. Large numbers of Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Golden Plover and Lapwing took to the air in three distinct layers put on a fantastic display near the Turf Lock area and flocks of Avocets stole the show near Topsham with flybys past the boat and reeling over the mudflats. On our way back several Turnstones showed on the Mussel vessel and then the Grey Seal posed on the flat vessel in front of everyone. This was a great cruise for everyone.

Derek Carter

After a couple of short, sharp showers, we had a relatively warm cruise with excellent visibility. A Great Northern Diver off Exmouth seafront was followed by the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood and 3 immature drake Eiders resting on Bull Hill. Shags at close range revealed their bottle green plumage and some had breeding crests. At least 22 Sanderlings were scattered along the sandbank fringes and at least 6 Greenshanks, mostly off Powderham. Five Goldeneye (2 drakes) were seen distantly in a channel towards Lympstone and around a dozen Great Crested Grebes and maybe 30 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered up the estuary, with over 200 Pintail mostly around the mouth of the Clyst. Several Grey Herons could be seen at their nests in the Turkey Oaks behind Starcross Yacht Club. The mudbanks around Turf-Topsham again held large numbers of waders, especially Black-tailed Godwits (1000+?), Lapwings (1500+), Golden Plover (700), Dunlin and Avocets affording us excellent views. Among them were smaller numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot and Grey Plover. Gulls gathering to bathe and then rest on the mud included at least 10 Lesser Black-backed and many Common Gulls.

Dave Smallshire

A mild day with a southerly breeze, rather dull to start with but soon brightening up to give excellent visibility. The ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe was off Cockwood and 3 immature drake Eiders were on or near Bull Hill. Several Goldeneye (1 drake) were seen distantly in a channel towards Lympstone. Three Greenshanks were opposite a sandbank off Powderham, where another was feeding in the Kenn outlet. Around 20 Great Crested Grebes and maybe 30 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered up the estuary, and some 200 Pintail were around the mouth of the Clyst. A Buzzard soared up over Powderham Park, where a few Grey Herons could be seen at their nests in the Turkey Oaks. The mudbanks around Turf-Topsham had spectacular numbers of waders, with large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits (1000?), Lapwings (1300+), Golden Plover (700), Dunlin, Avocets and Brent Geese, many giving excellent views. Among them were smaller numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, Sanderling and Grey Plover. Gulls gathering to bathe and then rest on the mud included a total of about 10 Lesser Black-backed and 380 Common Gulls; both species are starting to move through from wintering grounds further south. A female Goldeneye passed us as we returned towards Turf.

Dave Smallshire

Great start to todays cruise with  a Great Northern Diver seen very close to the boat between Pole Sands and Exmouth Sea front. Good number of Oystercatchers a few Turstones and great views of a Grey Seal on a vessel near the Estuary side of Dawlish Warren. Still plenty of Brent Geese with 600+ seen throughout the estuary today. Great views of the 3 juvenile male Eider on a sandbank off Cockwood, 10+ Great Crested Grebe on show near Starcross with birds in Summer and winter plumage. 20+ Red Breasted Mergansers showing well throughout the Estuary with flyby views passed the boat. 150+ Pintail off Exton and Clyst confluence in two flocks. On the mudflats between Turf Lock,  Exton Station and Topsham large number of birds including 150+ Avocets, 600+ Lapwing 600+ Golden Plover 200+ Dunlin, 500+ Black Tailed Godwits with good numbers of Bar Tailed Godwits, Curlew, & Grey Plover amongst the main flocks but no sign of the Knot today.  Large numbers of  gulls seen throughout the estuary with Black Headed Gull numbers increased from the last few weeks.

Derek Carter

Saturday 2nd February, 2019

A beautiful sunny afternoon, taking the edge off a chilly northerly breeze. A Great Northern Diver was again off Exmouth sea front, as was the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe and a Little Grebe off Cockwood. An immature drake Eider out on Bull Hill allowed us a close approach and 2 others were seen more distantly out on another sandbank. 5 Goldeneye (2 drakes) were seen distantly in a channel towards Lympstone. Several small groups of Sanderlings ran along the edges of sandbanks and a Greenshank was feeding at the Kenn outlet near Powderham. At least 16 Great Crested Grebes and maybe 30 Red-breasted Mergansers were scattered up the estuary, and about 230 Pintail were again around the mouth of the Clyst. Large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits were just visible in the fields near Turf. Only small numbers of them were on the mud today at Topsham, where at least 450 Avocets were mostly busy feeding and gave us splendid views. A flock of Bar-tailed Godwits resting on the mud contained a couple of dozen Knot. As we turned at Topsham, a Kingfisher was seen briefly and a large flock of Brent Geese flew down from the Clyst valley, landing in two groups. As we returned past Dawlish Warren, yet another Sanderling was running along the shoreline.

Dave Smallshire

Friday 1st February, 2019

With yesterday evening’s snow still visible down to sea level, it was a cold journey up the estuary this morning. A Great Northern Diver was off Exmouth sea front, where a Grey Seal popped up briefly to look us over and several flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares passed over from the east: a classic hard weather movement. Off Cockwood, the ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe was a bit closer to the boat than usual, and 2 immature drake Eiders were even closer. Here also was the first of maybe 20 Great Crested Grebes. 2 Greenshanks were feeding at the Ken outlet near Powderham and at least 200 Pintail were around the mouth of the Clyst. Several flocks of Brent Geese included a large group near Turf, where the first of many Avocets were feeding. Rather strangely, a group of about 30 Knot were asleep, rather than busily feeding as would be usual for them. In contrast to the previous batch of cruises, only a few Lapwings and about 100 Golden Plover were on the mudbanks around Turf-Topsham. Black-tailed Godwits were numerous here, as usual, and about 130 Bar-tails were off the Goat Walk at Topsham. A Sparrowhawk flew over the river, disturbing the waders briefly, and a group of Greylag Geese walked across the mud. Returning to Exmouth, I was dismayed to see 2 Cormorants standing on buoys – a habit I’ve always associated with Shags in the outer part of the estuary!

Dave Smallshire

Tuesday 22nd January 2019

This afternoon, one of the Grey Seals was hauled up on the back of a boat. The 3 immature drake Eiders were nearby, as was one of the Great Northern Divers, the second being off Powderham Corner. Several hundred Brent Geese flew off Starcross Golf Course onto the shoreline as we passed by. We could see the lovely green gloss on some of the Shags during a short sunny spell. There were 20-25 Great Crested Grebes, including 14 in one of the channels running back towards Lympstone, and again over 300 Pintail near the Clyst mouth. Similar waders to previous days all over the mudbanks in the north, with around 4-500 Avocets, 500 Golden Plovers, 1000 Lapwings, 1000 Black-tailed and 100 Bar-tailed Godwits, 50 Knot and hundreds of Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank. We had our closest views of Red-breasted Mergansers as usual along the narrow river channel around Turf, where several hundred Brent Geese were in the fields. Something panicked the waders and hundreds of gulls coming in to roost and for a while the sky was full of birds. Best of all, flocks of Avocets flew past the boat at Topsham, sparkling white in the late afternoon light, a stunning end to four consecutive great cruises!

Dave Smallshire

We had nice weather to begin with this afternoon, but the sun went in part way up the estuary and we had a little light rain on the return. A Peregrine was again on Exmouth church tower, later seen in flight heading out over the estuary. Both Grey Seals were together on the pontoon, where a big difference in size was clear. The Slavonian Grebe and 3 Eiders were still off Cockwood/Starcross, but we had to wait until near Powderham to see the Great Northern Diver – and then there were two! Greenshanks were feeding along edge of a sandbank near the divers.

Again, over 300 Pintail were around the Clyst mouth and the northern mudbanks were covered in large numbers of waders: around 500 Golden Plovers, 2000 Lapwings, 400 Avocets, 1000 Black-tailed Godwits, 100 Bar-tailed Godwits and the usual hundreds of Curlews, Redshanks and Dunlin, together with large numbers of gulls, including Lesser and Great Black-backed and 100+ Common. About 500 Brent Geese flew in from the Clyst Valley, coinciding with some panic in the waders, perhaps due to an unseen Peregrine – quite a spectacle! Among the scarcer waders were about 65 Grey Plover, 30 Knot and 2 Sanderlings. A few tens of Teal, Wigeon and Red-breasted Mergansers and about 10 Great Crested Grebes added to a good species list. Finally, after everyone had left the boat, a Great Northern Diver flew out of the estuary to sea – perhaps there will be only one in the estuary again tomorrow!

Dave Smallshire

Sunday 20th January 2019

Another cruise in lovely calm, conditions. Highlights included the Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe and 3 Eiders (immature drakes) off Cockwood. Two of the Eiders were out on Bull Hill Sandbank, with a Crow paying rather too much attention to one of them! There were an amazing 320(ish) Pintail around the mouth of the Clyst, about 30 Red-breasted Mergansers scattered around the estuary and 3 Goldeneye rather distantly in a creek near Exmouth. The mudbanks towards Topsham looked spectacular, with many Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin scattered across them, together with about 500 Golden Plovers and larger numbers of Lapwings; there are also about 60 Knot and 2 Sanderlings. At least one Peregrine could be made out on Exmouth church tower. A Grey Seal was hauled out onto a pontoon off Dawlish Warren and another was glimpsed near Turf.

Dave Smallshire

Saturday 19th January 2019

Today was the first birdwatching cruise of 2019 in lovely calm, sunny conditions. Highlights included a Great Northern Diver and the usual Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood, c20 Great Crested Grebes, c250 Pintail around the mouth of the Clyst, 3 Eiders (immature drakes) between Exmouth and Cockwood, c30 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Sanderlings, c100 Bar-tailed Godwits (many more Black-tailed), several Greenshanks and maybe 400 Golden Plovers with large numbers of Lapwings on the mud towards Topsham, perhaps 2000 in total. Two Peregrines were just visible on the church tower in Exmouth, and 2 separate Kingfishers and a Grey Seal were seen.

Dave Smallshire