Devon Wildlife Trust 60th Anniversary Guided Bird Watching Cruise

It was a great privilege for us here at Stuart Line to host Devon Wildlife Trust on board for their 60th anniversary and what better way to do so then with a private Guided Bird Watching Cruise along the River Exe. We were excited to have Dave Smallshire on board again for this season.

Today I had the honour of commentating on a Devon Wildlife Trust cruise for its supporters, celebrating the Trust’s 60th Anniversary. It was fairly calm and the light was nice and even: perfect for birdwatching.

The main highlights came as we returned from Topsham towards Turf: first a Marsh Harrier over the estuary, causing panic among hordes of waders; then an immature Great Northern Diver right next to the boat; and then a presumed juvenile leucistic Brent Goose with a family of two adults and 2 young. On our approach to Turf, 2 female or immature Scaup or Tufted Duck flew off upriver: one of them had a good white blaze around the base of the bill, suggesting Scaup, but I would have liked a better view of them before pronouncing for sure! Likewise, a seal hauled out on the mud near Topsham was probably a Harbour Seal, but it slid back into the river before we could have a proper look.

Other notables included about 20 Great Crested Grebes, 30 Shags, plenty of Little Egrets, 1000+ Brent Geese, 150 Pintail, 200+ Avocets, 500 Lapwings, 500+ Golden Plover, 50 Knot, 100+ Bar-tailed and 1000+ Black-tailed Godwits. A Kingfisher was sat beside a muddy creek at Powderham and a Pied Wagtail accompanied us on the boat for a while! On the down side, we saw only half a dozen Red-breasted Mergansers and a couple of Greenshanks. The sun came out as we returned towards Exmouth, making some Sanderlings shine brightly.

Dave Smallshire

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