Another beautiful sunny winters morning perfect for a birdwatching cruise on the Exe Estuary with great company. We left Exmouth Marina and cruised along the edge of Pole sands where we had really good views of Curlew, Oyster Catchers Herring gulls foraging and a few DB Brent Geese were also feeding on algae and seaweed in the pools. As we started sailing towards Shelley beach a Kingfisher was seen on the rocks on the left of the entrance to the Marina Captain Rich ensure all saw this beautiful bird which set the scene for a great day. We sailed on up the estuary where we had views of a few Shags and Cormorants giving visitors the chance to see the difference between these two similar birds.
Along the shoreline of the North side of Dawlish Warren we had views of a few Linnets and Rock Pipit feeding in the debris at the tideline, Turnstone wandering along the shoreline and a Sanderling was seen here to. In the Dawlish wildlife refuge we had views of Dark bellied Brent geese, Oystercatchers, Curlew, and Wigeon.
As we continued north past Cockwood we had good views of Greater black backed gulls on the sandbanks with many more Oystercatchers. Cormorants and Shags were roosting on the sandbanks, some drying their outstretched wings. A few Great Crested Grebes were diving near the shoreline from Cockwood to Starcross. A distant male Red Breasted Merganser was seen being the first of at least 9 seen throughout the trip. Up to 13 Turnstones were foraging on seaweed and a good number of Avocets were feeding along the shoreline north of Starcross and as we sailed North we continued to see Avocets scattered over the mudflats and along the shoreline of the channel up to Topsham. A single Greenshank and plenty of Gulls were bathing at the River Kenn outlet by Powderham estate then a shout went up a Spoonbill was spotted feeding in the shallows then took off upstream showing the black tips on the wings confirming it was a juvenile bird; Redshanks were also seen nearby. Around 20 Mallard ducks were seen around Starcross Yacht club. On the Lympstone side of the estuary Widgeon Pintail Mute Swans Dunlin good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits and Shelduck were seen feeding on the remains of the Eel Grass beds off Limestone village.
Again like yesterday hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits were feeding along the mudflats towards Turf locks and hotel and a large flock of DB Brent Geese lined the channel in this same area two Great Northern Divers were spotted at a distance. A few Grey Plover Dunlin and Curlew were seen along this stretch then the Spoonbill was feeding then rested showing great views to the folks on board.
As we sailed past Turf towards Topsham both mudflats had plenty of Avocets with groups feeding on the edge of the channel. Hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits and a few Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding along the edge of the channel and hundreds of DB Brent Geese lined the straight to Topsham Quay also at least 6 Red Breasted Mergansers were seen here to . A Seal was spotted along this stretch just downstream from the Goatwalk. Redshank and around 30 Teal ducks were at Topsham.
On our return someone spotted the Male Goldeneye in front of the boat where it took off and we all had an amazing close views of this beautiful duck as it flew passed heading back towards Topsham Quay. Canada Geese and a couple of Greylag Geese were also spotted in all this excitement.
On our way back plenty of Cormorants were viewed gathering on the sandbanks off Starcross with large flocks of roosting Oystercatchers and around the edge on the sandbanks several Sanderling were scurrying along the edge foraging for food in the wavelets. Some remarked they thought they saw a Peregrine or a bird of prey on the sandbar it was confirmed it was one of the two juvenile Peregrine Falcons frequenting this area over the last 4 months and has been seen on several cruises and off Mudbank in Exmouth a great spot by one of the visitors.
Off Cockle sands we enjoyed 4 Sanderling dashing along the shoreline like little clock-work toys dashing here and there; and we had more close views of a further 4 along the North shoreline of Dawlish Warren and again Oystercatchers were gathering in this area.
Another great day was had by all!
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