Guided Bird Watching – Saturday 4th March 2023

Todays cruise was yet another dry one with very little sunshine and a cold light wind perfect for a birding cruise on the estuary.  DB Brent Geese were on view near the Marina and Bull Hill Sand Bar. Again today 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. On Can Doo an adult Grey Seal was resting on the back of the vessel to the joy many on board.  Wigeon, Oystercatcher and a few Curlew were seen in the bight at Dawlish Warren. Greater Black Back Herring Gulls were again plentiful, along with abundant numbers of Black Headed Gulls seen throughout the Estuary.

Adult Grey Seal

Common Gulls seemed scarce with no Lesser Black Back Gulls seen. Redshank were seen above Starcross in numbers. Black-tail Godwit were seen here with an odd Bar-tailed Godwit seen to. Little Egret were seen fishing in this area near the wrecks. Behind Starcross Yacht club several Grey Heron were seen on their nests.

Again 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. Pintail were seen around Exton some close enough to see very well. On the bend towards Turf 2 juvenile Common Seals were seen on the sand bar up close views of these delightful mammals were had by some until they decided to head for the water.

Great views of Dunlin, an odd Grey Plover, Curlew and Redshank were seen here and at least 12 Red Breasted Mergansers in mid channel with the males again 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 400+ 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. Two Greylag Geese were off the southern end of the Goat walk. Fantastic views of the Spotted Redshank on the opposite side from the Quay and a Greenshank flew in to join it which was a real treat for the visitors.

On our return journey Avocets and black-tailed Godwits were plentiful a few Canada Geese showed off the Goat walk. As we passed Turf Lock a large flock of DB Brent Geese possible 750+ took off from Powderham Marsh and headed straight for the “Pride of Exmouth” and landed beside the boat, this was an outstanding spectacle for all to see with several visitors feeling quite emotional of what they had witness.

Large Flock of DB Brent Geese

We had talked about checking within large flocks of birds for rarities and while editing the photos on my computer a lone Barnacle Goose was discover amongst the DB Brent Geese Flock which was a bonus bird of the day. On Bull Hill Sandbar at least  3 Sanderling were seen busy feeding along the waters edge. More views of the Grey Seal as we passed Can Doo on our way back from another special day on the Exe Estuary.

Barnacle Goose in the DB Brent Geese Flock

Derek Carter

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Stuart Line Cruises


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