Guided Bird Watching – Sunday 26th November

We set off from Exmouth quay and cruised along the edge of Pole sands where we had good views of Curlew feeding with many Herring gulls, Oyster Catchers and Dark bellied Brent geese.  Behind Pole sands on the edge of Dawlish warren beach we could see large numbers of Dark bellied Brent geese feeding in the distance.

As we started sailing up the estuary Shags were seen diving around the boat and we had good views of a couple resting up on buoys. On the North shoreline of Dawlish warren and the edge of the Wildlife Refuge we had close views of a Grey Heron and as we sailed further along the edge of the refuge we saw large numbers of Dark bellied Brent geese with Wigeon feeding on the Eel grass area.  A few Shelduck were on the muds in the wildlife refuge whilst Oystercatchers were liberally scattered across the mudflats and sandbanks as we continued north towards Cockwood.  A few Little Egrets, a single Greenshank, Curlew and a few Black-tailed godwits were feeding along the shoreline. 4 Mute swans were swimming around Cockwood steps to Cockwood harbour and more were seen as we sailed up the estuary to Starcross. 2 young Great crested grebes were diving and appeared to be interacting with each other in the waters off Cockwood.

A Grey seal was hauled up on a raft in the middle of the channel and a further Grey seal was in the water approaching the raft.  

On the sandbanks in this area there were around 12 Great black backed gulls and a few Cormorants with Shags roosting, along with Herring gulls.

At the River Kenn outlet by Powderham castle estate, among the gulls we had a ‘pick and mix’ selection of waders with 1 of each Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew, Black tailed godwit and Oystercatcher which gave visitors a chance to compare the different species, especially the Greenshank and Redshank which stood side by side. As we sailed north a group of over 20 Mallard ducks were swimming close to Starcross Yacht Club, around 50 Black tailed godwits were feeding just to the north of the yacht club and a few Shelduck were on the muds.

3 Common seals were relaxing on the sandbank just off Starcross yacht club, an adult with 2 juveniles.

As we followed the channel towards Turf hotel around 20 Lapwing were roosting on the muds with a number of Dunlin scattered across the mudflats. A Grey plover was bathing on the edge of the water.  Avocets were numerous across the mudflats and along the shoreline either side of the boat as we continued towards the confluence of the river Clyst, as were Black-tailed godwits and Dunlin.  A few Bar-tailed godwits were feeding among the Black-tailed godwits and in the distance behind the Lapwing there was a compact flock of over 400 Golden plover roosting on the mudflats.

As we approached Topsham we had close views of the two resident ‘wild’ Black swans and a male Red breasted merganser was diving in front of the boat.  More Avocets, Black-tailed godwits and a few Teal were on the muds.  2 Snipe flew out of the reeds before quickly landing again further into the reeds, a Curlew was seen feeding in the cut reed area and a Marsh harrier was hunting over the reeds on the edge of the estuary. As we started our journey south back to Exmouth, a Kingfisher flew across the estuary in the distance behind the boat.

On the return trip we saw over 100 Pintail with a large number of Dark bellied Brent geese in the distance as we looked towards Lympstone. A few visitors on the boat saw some Pintail in flight. 4 more Red-breasted mergansers were flying south from Lympstone area and 6 Great crested grebes were seen swimming just off Lympstone.

As we continued sailing back towards Exmouth with the tide rising, Oystercatchers were gathering to roost both on Cockle sands and 4 Sanderling could be seen in the distance running along the shoreline of the sandbank.  Looking towards Cockwood we could see 3 more Grey plover feeding on a narrow sandbank and around 70 Oystercatchers were gathering to roost on Dawlish warren finger point.

Jo King

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Stuart Line Cruises


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