Guided Bird Watching – Friday 3rd March 2023

Todays cruise was another dry one with a bit of sunshine but a cold light wind perfect for a birding cruise on the estuary. 3 Grey Seals were seen heading out and along the Sea front as we started our cruise, with DB Brent Geese on view near the Marina. Shag and Cormorant were near the Exe mouth with many seen resting, fishing, and drying off around the Cockwood and the Starcross area as we made our way upstream.

Wigeon and a few Curlew were seen in the  bight at Dawlish Warren. Greater Black Back Herring Gulls were plentiful to see with abundant numbers of Black Headed Gulls were seen throughout the Estuary. Common Gulls seemed scarce with no Lesser Black Back Gulls seen. Greenshank were seen above Starcross with Redshank in numbers. Black-tail Godwit were seen here with an odd Bar-tailed Godwit seen to. Little Egrets were seen fishing in this area. Behind Starcross Yacht club several Grey Heron were seen on their nests with a bird bringing back nesting material to the site.

Shelduck were abundant in the middle reaches of the Estuary along with Great Crested Grebe some in their summer plumage seen towards the Clyst Confluence. Good numbers of Pintail were seen around Exton some close enough to see very well. On the bend towards Turf 2 juvenile Common Seals were seen with fantastic close up views of these delightful mammals. Along the straight super numbers of DB Brent Geese up close with 100+ seen flying over Exminster Marshes and came and landed beside the boat. Great views of Dunlin, Grey Plover, Curlew Redshank and Golden Plover were seen here and at least 16 Red Breasted Mergansers in mid channel with the males showing courtship behaviour to the females.

Our first Avocets were seen along Turf Lock Straight with 200+ birds seen to Topsham. Another larger flock of 300+ Golden Plover were seen roosting on the mud flats opposite The Goat walk at Topsham. Black Tail and a few Bar-Tail Godwits were abundant along both banks to Topsham.


A glimpse of the Spotted Redshank near the white walkway stanchion but only a glimpse! On our return journey Lapwing were seen feeding along with Canada and DB Brent Geese on Powderham Marsh. On Bull Hill Sandbar 3 Sanderling were seen busy feeding along the waters edge as we cruised home from another special day on the Exe Estuary.

Derek Carter

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Stuart Line Cruises


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