Guided Bird Watching – Sunday 5th March 2023

Today was the penultimate cruise for this season and did not disappoint It was yet another dry one with very little sunshine and a very cold light wind but perfect for a birding cruise on the estuary. DB Brent Geese were on view near Pole Sands near Dawlish Warren. 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.

A large male Grey Seal was resting on a small boat not seen or used before and two Grey Seals were on Can Doo resting on the back of the vessel to the joy many on board. 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.

Common Gulls were seen further up the estuary in view of the boat, again 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. Great views of Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank were seen here and at least 15 Red Breasted Mergansers in mid channel with the males again showing courtship behaviour to the females.

At least 1000 DB Brent Geese were near Turf Lock Bend and the Barnacle Goose was amongst them. Whilst trying to explain where they could be seen two Common Cranes flew upstream over Topsham which was a rare sight indeed and were the bonus birds of the day.

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 Turf Lock. Black Tail and a few Bar-Tail Godwits were abundant along both banks to Topsham.

Golden Plover

Fantastic views of the Spotted Redshank in front of the flats on the waters edge very close to the boat which was a real treat for the many visitors on board. On our return journey Avocets and black-tailed Godwits were plentiful with views of a new Herons nest discovered in an Ash tree on the Canal bank where there were three Grey Herons pitched up around the nest. 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 yet another very special day on the Exe Estuary.

Derek Carter

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Stuart Line Cruises


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