Sunday 8th November 2015 – our first cruise of the season

It was good to be back for the first bird watching cruise of the winter. Although breezy with drizzle at first, it proved to be a good one. In the estuary mouth, just off the seaward side of Dawlish Warren, was a female or immature Long-tailed Duck – let’s hope it stays for the winter! Perhaps the ‘flock’ of kite surfers offshore moved it inshore.

Inside the estuary, off Exmouth, was a Great Northern Diver, which we later saw on the other side of the estuary. Near the Warren were two Great Crested Grebes and a Little Grebe. Shags were very evident up as far as Starcross, with probably more than 50 seen. Red-breasted Mergansers are still rather few in number, but lots of Brent Geese were in the lower part of the estuary, grazing algae on the mud; they appear to have had a bad breeding season, as very few young are present.

Towards Topsham there were about 250 Avocets, 200 Lapwings, 6 Golden and about 15 Grey Plover, and hundreds of Dunlins, Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits – at one point circling in panic when a Peregrine flew though! A few Bar-tailed Godwits, Greenshanks and Turnstones added to the variety. Amongst the gulls were a few Lesser Black-backed and rather more Common Gulls, while dozens of Great Black-backed sat asleep on Bull Hill sandbank.


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