Guided Bird Watching – Friday 20th January 2023

Passengers 20.01.23

Visitors on today’s cruise were treated to exceptionally calm sunny and clear conditions with mirror-like waters particularly in the upper part of the estuary giving us stunning reflections of the numerous birds and the surrounding landscape.

As the boat left Exmouth dock we had ‘silhouette’ views looking into the low winter sun of 3 Eider ducks just off the tip of Dawlish Warren so Jake took the boat closer so that we could get better views of the 2 immature birds with an adult.

A few Shags were resting on buoys and sun bathing along with Cormorants on Bull hill sandbank at the Southern end of the estuary giving visitors the chance to appreciate the differences between these two similar birds. Some of the Cormorants took flight displaying white patches around their hips, a sign of breeding plumage. 

As we sailed North through the tranquil waters, the birds looked as relaxed as we were in such perfect conditions. We had views of Great Crested Grebes in the middle of the channel and a Little Grebe was just North of Cockwood harbour entrance.  A few Bar-tailed godwits were feeding with Black-tailed godwits just off Cockwood.

Greenshank, Redshank, Shelduck and various gulls were feeding around the outlet of the River Kenn, as were a few Mallards.  Seven Red-breasted Mergansers were seen on the estuary and a group of 4 males were displaying to a single female who got tired of their attentions and took off with the males all in pursuit.  A Great Northern Diver was feeding on crabs in the middle of the estuary between Lympstone and Exton.

Visitors enjoyed many Avocets, Dunlin, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits throughout the trip from the River Kenn outlet up to Topsham, where we also saw a single Spotted Redshank feeding on the muds in front of Topsham museum. A Common Seal was basking on the muds near Powderham Corner and some visitors had views of a flyby Kingfisher from the Powderham sea wall.

As we approached Turf we saw around 200 Dark-bellied Brent Geese with large numbers of Canada Geese and the lone long staying Snow goose.  There were numerous mixed waders including Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and good numbers of Curlew on the mudbanks around Turf and to the Clyst confluence and the Curlew gave us a demonstration of their charismatic and enchanting call. 

Two young Spoonbills were seen near the entrance to the River Clyst and one gave us excellent views as it was preening itself and looking stunning in the afternoon winter sunshine. A few Knot and Dunlin flew past the boat as we turned to head back down the estuary.


On the return trip we had more views of the Great Northern Diver and one of the visitors who brought a scope picked up a very distant Scaup towards Lympstone. A Grey seal was hauled up on a pontoon off Dawlish Warren and we had close views of several Sanderling feeding along the edge of the Dawlish warren estuary shoreline as the boat glided close by.

Jo King

Posted in

Stuart Line Cruises


Get To Know Us!

Sign up to our newsletter for monthly highlights, entertaining anecdotes and details of upcoming cruises and events!