Another lovely sunny morning with fabulous light showing up the glossy green of the Shags and drake Red-breasted Mergansers to best effect. Rather few of the former are in the estuary now, most of them being back on their breeding cliffs, but there are still lots of Mergansers.
Groups of five then six Great Crested Grebes were all in breeding plumage, but the resident Slavonian Grebe – today seen well off Powderham – still looks very black and white. The Spotted Redshanks was again with Greenshanks and Redshanks at Powderham.
Most of the waders were at the top of the estuary: crowds of Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit with smaller numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Grey Plover and Sanderling. Dozens of Shelduck and Teal dabbled in the mud at Topsham, where a pair of Goldeneye gave a great fly-past. And of course the Avocet flock, now down to 70, still managed to thrill us as they swirled around in the sun.
Another lovely sunny morning for the cruise, with a fresh westerly wind. Shag numbers have declined as the breeding season approaches, but there were still some nice adults sporting crests in the outer part of the estuary.
The Spotted Redshank was with half a dozen Greenshanks off Powderham and several groups of Sanderlings fed along the sandbank edges in mid-estuary. Ten or more Great Crested Grebes were still around. Most of the area’s Brent Geese were on the mud and river near Turf Lock, taking flight in spectacular fashion as we approached; there must have been a thousand or more. Someone spotted the Snow Bunting on the sea wall near the new bridge over the railway (this confiding bird has been there for almost two months).
The mudbanks held large numbers of Dunlin and smaller numbers of Grey Plover, Knot and Shelducks. At Topsham, a pair of Goldeneye and stunning Red-breasted Mergansers swam close to the boat, while hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits, 100 Bar-tails and over 200 Avocets milled around us: a fantastic sight. There were a few dozen Teal feeding as well, while an immature gull with Black-headeds had the demeanor of a Caspian Gull.
As we returned to Exmouth, the resident Harbour Seal was in her favourite position, hauled out on Bull Hill sandbank.
This week we had three guided bird watching cruises on the beautiful River Exe. We were very lucky with the weather on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but despite the poor conditions of yesterday’s trip there was still plenty to see. With these trips lasting approximately 3 hours there is lots of chance to spot the huge variety of birds that spend the winter on the Exe.
Each trip has commentary from a leading ornithologist, identifying and talking about habitat and behaviour of each bird they see. This week’s trips have all had commentary by Ian Waite, an enthusiastic bird watcher in the local area. With over 20 years’ experience you can be sure that he won’t miss a thing.
These trips have proved to be hugely popular this season, we’ve even had to add in two extra trips!
We are now taking bookings for the 2015/16 winter. Book now to avoid missing out:
Call us on 01395 279693 or book online: https://www.stuartlinecruises.co.uk/bird-watching/
A strong northerly wind seemed to keep most of the birds at the sheltered northern end of the estuary today, but the rain missed us and we sailed in lovely sunshine. A Sanderling and some Turnstones were notable as we passed the dunes at Dawlish Warren, though a distant group of Knot on the mud were harder to appreciate.
At Powderham a Spotted Redshank was feeding near Greenshank and the first Avocet was seen. Four Great Crested Grebes were off Lympstone Camp and as we approached Turf a large flock of Brent Geese landed to give us close views. The first group of Black-tailed Godwits also gave us good views, as did two drake Goldeneye and Red-breasted Mergansers as we approached Topsham. Grey Plovers and Shelducks were with the hordes of Dunlin on the mud.
The highlight of the cruise was undoubtedly the sight of over 500 Avocets around the boat at Topsham, providing a spectacular flight display as they wheeled around in the wind. Not to be totally outdone, a flock of Bar-tailed Godwits and some 50 Teal were also on the river’s edge here.