This afternoon’s birdwatching cruise was excellent, with a Great Northern Diver and a feeding group of 30 Shags near to the Exmouth Marina. The ‘resident’ Slavonian Grebe and the first of about a dozen Great Crested Grebes were off Cockwood, plus a the first of a meagre 30ish Red-breasted Mergansers. A Peregrine flew over the boat at Powderham, where there was a Greenshank (and 3 on the way back). Passing Lympstone we saw small groups of Pintail and there were mixed groups of both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits. Approaching Turf, large flocks of Brent geese and Golden Plover were seen in flight and a few Ringed Plovers were found amongst the hordes of Dunlins and Black-tailed Godwits; also on the mud were hundreds of Avocets, c140 Knot and good numbers of Grey Plovers, while a few Sanderlings fed along the river channel. We had better views of Mergansers toward Topsham, were a few dozen Teal were feeding and a pair of Black Swans walked out onto the mud.
Pride of place, however, went to a brief sighting of the Long-billed Dowitcher that is spending the winter with us (usually at Bowling Green Marsh though). It was on its own on the river channel between Topsham and Turf – to be honest, it was a bit of a fluke actually finding it amongst the hordes of feeding waders and bathing gulls. Less exciting was a Snow Goose in fields with Canada Geese near Turf. Gull numbers were very impressive as we returned to Exmouth in late afternoon, with hundreds of Common and Great Black-backed, though only half-a-dozen Lesser Black-backed.
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