With the weather at the start of our Birding Cruises a bit soggy it was great to have the sun shining today and staying dry for the whole cruise showing the birds at their beautiful best.
With neap tides we entered the mouth of the River Exe straight off and the DB Brent Geese were the first to be seen at Shelley beach area and in good numbers throughout the estuary moving to different areas and feeding on the Eel Grass and aquatic weed on both sides of the lower and Mid Estuary. Again Shag and Cormorant were plentiful as we headed towards Starcross the size shape and diving technique were witnessed by our visitors.
Large flock of Widgeon a few Curlew and Little Egret with a distant Spoonbill were seen within the Wildlife Refuge area on the Shutterton basin. Roughly 10 Great Crested Grebe a couple Little Egrets Oystercatchers 2 Greenshank a couple of Grey Herons were seen upstream of Starcross and with great excitement a Kingfisher was spotted fishing from one of the wrecks in this same area. Looking towards Lympstone good numbers of Shelduck along with dunlin in flight and DB Brent Geese were feeding on the Eel Grass. Redshank were seen as we headed towards Starcross Yacht club a mixed flock of Gulls were bathing in the River Kenn mainly Black Headed, and Herring with a couple of Greater Black Backed Gulls showing well here to.
A nice flock of Mallard were seen at the Yacht Club slipway. Great aerial displays were witness by our visitors of mainly Dunlin towards Exton. As we turn for the straight towards Turf several Curlew Common Cormorants were close to the boat on the other side was the Clyst confluence where a few Black Tailed Godwits were seen lingering. Also along this stretch the first Grey Plover, Curlew and a nice group of Dunlin with Ringed Plover with them on the mudbank above the Clyst confluence.
As we turned Turf corner Curlew were in good numbers here with Dunlin in flight. A Red Breasted Merganser was spotted in close proximity to the boat and 5 more were seen on the return journey. A small group of Avocets were towards the bend near Goat Walk Topsham and another couple of groups were seen along the stretch to Topsham Quay. With the sun now shining it really showed off the beauty of the gorgeous birds on the left side of the boat several then took flight and flew past us to pitch in further down stream showing how graceful they are. Dunlin and Redshank were numerous and flighty to the Quay.
A Marsh Harrier was spotted towards Exminster Marsh and disturbed a flock of Lapwing and Canada Geese at a distance. On our return back to Exmouth birds were gathering on the Sandbanks and Dawlish Warren nature reserve with good numbers of Oystercatchers, Shelduck, DB Brent Geese, Dunlin in their respected groups. A visitor spotted an Arctic Tern near Starcross lost from view then picked up again near Cockwood always at a distance and viewed by a few.
As we approached Bull Hill Sandbar hoping for a Sanderling a Kite surfer was spotted walking across the Sandbar towards the main Channel waving his arm at us…. It became apparent he was stuck on the Bar with his Kite in a tangle, Captain Jake reversed The Pride of Exmouth beached the vessel on the Sandbar and rescued him…. As this was happening a Grey Seal emerged from the water pulled itself out of the water onto the sand and watched this drama unfold, you never know what you might see on our Winter Birding Cruises…A Great Cruise was had by all.
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