Nice light (but a brisk wind) for the birdwatching cruise this afternoon. One of yesterday’s Grey Seals was still lying on a low vessel off Dawlish Warren, and was still there on our return. As usual, ‘Herbert’ the Slavonian Grebe was close to 3 Goldeneye (1 drake) and several Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes off Cockwood, with several hundred Brent Geese nearby waiting to resume feeding on Starcross golf course. There were some smart Cormorants and Shags sporting their breeding plumage around and on Bull Hill. Several Greenshanks and the first Avocets were around Powderham and further on 30+ Pintail off Lympstone Marines Camp and a Harbour Seal was hauled out. Masses of Black-tailed Godwits and 15 Ringed Plovers were feeding on the mud at Turf, while about 800 Golden Plovers were roosting in a tight flock. Grey Plovers, Knots and a surprising number of Sanderlings (10-15) were seen on the way to Topsham, with masses of Dunlin, Redshank and both godwits, with a fair scattering of Avocets for good measure.

Dave Smallshire

Today’s Bird cruise was a good on with dry, a bit breezy with glimpses of the sun and good numbers of birds to see throughout from the marina to Topsham and back again. Also to please the visitors were two adult Grey Seals seen on the Mussel harvesting vessels and a juvenile Grey Seal on a mudbank opposite the River Clyst confluence further up the estuary. Good numbers of Red Breasted Mergansers were seen throughout the estuary with close-up views near the boat showing off their amazing head plumage. The Slavonian Grebe was on show near Starcross with a small number of Great Crested Grebe in the same area. Several Turnstones were seen to amongst the seaweed and rocky bits between Cockwood and Starcross. Several Greenshank were seen near the River Kenn confluence our first Avocets were seen in this area to. Dark Bellied Brent Geese were in good numbers around Starcross with up to 300+ birds seen along this stretch in flight and along the waters edge. 200+ Pintail and Widgeon was seen around Exton and the Clyst Confluence. As we approached Turf Lock a few Ringed Plover, a couple of Sanderling Grey Plover, Avocets, Dunlin, Redshank, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit were seen in good numbers on both sides of the channel all the way to Topsham with a mixed flock of Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits were at the waters edge. As we approached Topsham the visitors were treated by 200+ Black-tailed Godwits fly over the boat heading downstream, this is always a great spectacle. On our return back to Exmouth nice flocks of Dunlin, Godwits, Widgeon, Knot and a few Lapwing finished off a great Stuartline bird cruise with the visitors very pleased with their sightings.

Derek Carter

A passing cold front brought strong wind and rain showers at first, but later this turned to some welcome sunshine. A Red-necked Grebe was diving with Red-breasted Mergansers near Exmouth and the resident Slavonian Grebe, the first of several Great Crested Grebes and three Goldeneye (one drake) were seen off Cockwood. Several Greenshanks were in evidence between Starcross and Powderham, where Herons were getting blown around in the heronry. The first Avocet was also at Powderham and surprisingly few were seen until Turf, where the mudbanks held 15 Ringed Plovers, a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits and maybe 50 each of Grey Plover and Knot. A few Golden Plovers flew around: most were presumably with Lapwings in the flooded marshes. A couple of Sanderlings were with Dunlins and other waders seen along the river channel towards Topsham, where unusually Bar-tailed Godwits dominated the godwit flocks.

Dave Smallshire

Well, what an exhilarating and enjoyable cruise we all had today thanks to Skipper Jake and the Crew Lauren and Craig. With some birds keeping their heads down sheltering for the strong wind there was a good diverse number of birds throughout the estuary to be seen by the visitors.  Still with us the Red-Necked Grebe was fishing off Shelley Beach, the Slavonian Grebe put in an appearance off Cockwood and several Great Crested Grebes were fishing the lower reaches. Turnstones were seen in flight and feeding around Starcross. Bar-Tailed Godwits and Greenshank were seen feeding near the Ken confluence. Shelduck were out in numbers along with a few Widgeon and Pintail off Lympstone. With a guest appearance of Mike Langman as assistant spotter we picked out Grey Plover, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and our first Avocets near the Clyst confluence. A Peregrine Falcon put in an appearance low over the mudflats heading towards Powderham Marsh then turned towards Stracross. A large flock of mixed Godwits mainly black-tailed were viewed further up the estuary and stayed as we cruised by. Avocets and mixed Gull flocks were seen all the way to Topsham with plenty of Red Breasted Mergansers seen along this stretch. A small flock of Lapwing finished off this memorable afternoon cruising.

Derek Carter

A sunny day on todays cruise always helps to show off the birds on the Exe Estuary. What a start to this cruise was great views of the Red Necked Grebe. There was great excitement as visitors new this was a special bird to see as they were told how rare this sighting was for them as the last time a Red Necked Grebe was seen in the Estuary was 6 years ago. The Slavonian Grebe was also visible off Cockwood as we turned the bend at the Warren Wildlife Refuge mudflats. Several Great crested Grebe were seen on the way up stream towards Topsham with several starting to show the breeding plumage developing. Good views of Pintail in flight and at the waters edge. Great views of a young Grey Seal on a sandbank near the Clyst confluence. From this location to Topsham really large numbers of DB Brent Geese were seen at the waters edge and in the air, probably 1200+ were seen producing spectacular views for the visitors. Across the mudbanks both sides of the channel large numbers of Dunlin 500+ Black Tailed Godwits 500+ Golden Plover 500+ Avocets 300+ a sprinkling of Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Bar Tailed Godwits, Redshank, Shelduck, 6 Sanderling  good numbers of Curlew and 30+ Knot. At least 20+ Red Breasted Mergansers were seen throughout the trip. A Peregrine made a distant appearance putting up 200+ Lapwing over Exminster Marsh. This turned out to be an exceptional cruise for the visitors and enjoyed by all.

Derek Carter

To start the Cruise the visitors were treated to a lone Grey Seal fishing off Pier Head. There were plenty of birds on show today for the visitors with good numbers of Brent Geese throughout the Estuary. Oystercatchers were in Good number to. We were hopeful to see the Red-Necked Grebe which has been on the estuary for the last 10 days but were unable to locate it however the Slavonian Grebe was on Show off Cockwood for all to see. Good numbers of Shelduck were seen along with 150+ Pintail off Lympstone. 20+ Red Breasted Mergansers were seen throughout from Dawlish Warren to Topsham. Several Great Crested Grebe were seen and 5 Goldeneye all were flying. The top end of the Estuary were full of birds with 200+ Avocets, 500+ Golden Plover 200+ Lapwing 400+ Black tailed Godwit with a few Bar tailed Godwit in a mixed flock with several hundred Dunlin scattered across the mud around Turf Lock. As usual Curlew and Redshank were in good numbers throughout the upper estuary.

Derek Carter

Welcome to Stuart Line Cruises’ January Newsletter!

This month’s edition will include a round-up of the following highlights as well as details of what to look out for over the next few weeks:

  • British Coach Tourism Awards 2020 FINALISTS!
  • Mother’s Day Cruise Competition LAUNCH!
  • “Oh, the things you can find, if you don’t stay behind” ~ Dr Seuss
  • Happy Birthday, Skipper!
Off to a flying start!

We are thrilled to announce that we have been nominated as finalists in the ‘Inland River Cruise Operator’ category at the prestigious British Coach Tourism Awards 2020 – what a fantastic way to start the year!

The awards ceremony will be held in March at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and we are delighted to be able to tie this in with the British Tourism and Travel Show 2020 which we are exhibiting at alongside fellow members of Devon’s Top Attractions.

We are extremely proud of all that we have achieved over the past year and whether or not we receive the winner’s trophy on the night, it is a huge honour to be grouped with the best of the best in our industry.

Mother’s Day Cream Tea Cruise Competition Launch!

What better way to show your darling mum how much you love her than by just simply spending time together, on a relaxed cruise of the River Exe?

Not only will this cruise include a delightful locally-produced scone, lovingly made by Claire at the Devon Scone Company, served with lashings of cream and oodles of strawberry jam but also a good mug of tea and an informative and entertaining live commentary from the Skipper, as you meander around the river.

This month, we are launching our Mother’s Day Cream Tea Cruise Competition, the lucky winner of which will be entitled to all of the above PLUS refreshing bubbly prosecco for the adults  – (incidentally, this makes for the most perfect accompaniment to any Devon Cream Tea!) – and the great news is, there are plenty of ways to enter!

Please follow the button below for ALL the juicy details!

For more details and to enter now, click HERE

“Oh, the things you can find, if you don’t stay behind” ~ Dr. Seuss

Wise words my old friend – indeed, the things you can discover if you employ a little sense of adventure – the get up and out mentality, the wrap up warm, get outside, go for a walk, get up ridiculously early to catch that sunrise and watch in wonder as it comes up – type attitude. January is typically a rather ‘blue’ sort of month for one reason or another but life is what you make it, right? Well, that may not be entirely true – clearly some things are entirely out of our control but others can be very much determined by our outlook.

A positive and pro-active perspective can reward us with feelings of joy and sentimental enrichment of life – it’s during these episodes when the unexpected, seemingly small and perhaps insignificant interactions with people you’ve never met before and may never meet again, the momentary sightings of glorious nature and of course the ever-enviable sunsets which majestically command the sky over Exmouth – it’s these episodes which can bring a real sense of fulfillment.

(Of course, I am in part recounting my own experiences but I am sure that many of you can relate).

These moments may be brief but they are huge. They are what can truly determine our happiness and feeling of overall content in life. The great outdoors offers infinite opportunity for pleasure, whether it’s a walk with your family or on your own with your beloved dog, a leisurely cycle ride – or even a gentle cruise of the River Exe in the glorious winter sun(!)

I’ve never been a massive fan of restrictive ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ but I urge you not to be blue. Get up and out and resolve yourself to look for the positives. Because life is beautiful and precious and short.

Happy Birthday, Skipper!

Finally this month, on a more personal note, I would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to Captain Jake. Many of you will have had the pleasure of meeting him and some of you may even have been lucky enough to have been on a cruise for which he was your Skipper.

He’s an incredibly accomplished young chap and I am in awe of all that he has achieved and continues to work for. He has come up with some superb new ideas and concepts over the past few years, steering our family business with confidence and total competence. He truly is a remarkable person – we are so grateful for all of his tireless hard work and unrelenting positivity and are extremely proud of him.

You are a joy to work with and deserve the world, so keep up the hard work and long may it continue!

Now, I probably ought to say good bye at this point folks because he absolutely hates praise, especially in public, loathes photos of himself and hates attention so I may well get the sack tomorrow. It’s been a pleasure!

Despite very grey skies and murky hilltops this afternoon, we were amazed by the spectacular numbers of birds on the estuary. In particular, over 1200 Black-tailed Godwits graced the mudflats around Turf – a nationally significant flock. These backed by hundreds of Avocets, Lapwings, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Curlews and Redshanks, with a few dozen Knot for good measure. A Kingfisher did a complete circuit of the boat at Topsham, where we saw a pair of Black Swans and had our best views of Red-breasted Mergansers. ‘Herbert’, our resident Slavonian Grebe, was eventually found at Cockwood, with a Little Grebe and the first few Great Cested Grebes nearby. As we returned to Exmouth, thousands of gulls (of 5 species) were gathering on the remaining mudbanks and sandbanks: quite a spectacle.

Dave Smallshire

Another great Cruise for the visitor with plenty to see from start to finish. 20+ Red Breasted Mergansers on view from Shelly Beach to Topsham and close to the boat. A bonus Male Black Redstart on the inner side of Dawlish Warren beach showing on the signage board in the dunes. Possibly the Exmouth Marina bird needing a change of scenery! A couple of Turnstones and plenty of Dark Bellied Brent Geese across the mud in front of Dawlish Warren hide to Starcross. Little Grebe was not far away from the Slavonian Grebe off Cockwood and showed well for the visitors to see clearly but at a distance. Again plenty of gulls now on the estuary with Common and Herring Gull comparison easy to be seen. 20+ Great Crested Grebe showing well from Starcross to Turf Locks. First of 200+ Pintail and a few Widgeon off Lympstone. Shag and Cormorant fishing in this area and lower down showing the visitors the comparison on both species. First of the 300+ Avocets were seen at the Kenn confluence with good numbers showing all the way to Topsham. At the waters edge from the Clyst confluence to Turf Lock large numbers Black Tailed Godwits along with Dark Bellied Brent Geese beyond this line and out on the mudflat large numbers of Dunlin were feeding. Towards Topsham a large flock of Golden Plover and Lapwing went airborne putting on a display at a distance. There were another 200+ Golden Plover roosting opposite Turf Lock. A small flock of Knot flew over the boat in the same location. Plenty of Redshank were seen all the way to Topsham. After we turned and left Topsham we were treated to a great display from 400+ Brent Geese flying over the boat from Darts Farm direction. Another flock of Brent Geese took off and joined them making 500+ circling overhead, making a great winter spectacle enjoyed by the visitors. Back on the river a pair of Goldeneye were seen but moved on down stream. A few visitors saw a Kingfisher on the old wreck below Starcross Sailing Club. Good numbers of Oystercatcher were lining the route back to Exmouth.
Derek Carter

Dull and cloudy (but at least clear!) this afternoon. We started with a Peregrine on Exmouth church tower and a Kingfisher near to Exmouth Marina – a good start. However, pride of place today went to the Long-billed Dowitcher feeding with Black-tailed Godwits at Topsham and a roosting group of 30 Cattle Egrets (counts varied from 28 to 32, but I reckoned 30!) on a sandbank at Starcross as we returned. There were at least 22 Great Crested Grebes, plus the usual Slavonian at Cockwood and a Little Grebe and 2 Black Swans at Topsham. 3 Pintail were on Pole Sands (off the tip of Dawlish Warren) and later there were about 130 at Lympstone. 12 distant geese on the mud appeared to be Greylags and 50 Teal were likewise at Topsham. About 30 Red-breasted Mergansers and waders in general were well scattered. Selected estimates include 300+ Avocets (30+ at Powderham), several hundred each of Lapwing and Golden Plover, c100 Bar-tailed and several large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits (there must have been well over 1000 in total). 4 Greenshank were scattered between the Warren and Powderham. A Grey Seal was hauled out onto a buoy and an unidentified seal was seen briefly between Turf and Topsham.

Dave Smallshire