I arrived at the hide at 10:30 to find it absolutely packed out (it was Sunday and I couldn't have caught an any earlier train than I did) but after round 10 minutes people started to leave for the nearby viewing platform and I managed to get a seat. The Marsh had a large roosting flock of waders at the back, all waiting for the tide to recede, and amongst the many redshank, dunlin, black tailed godwit and curlew I managed to find a spotted redshank, 3 little stint, a few whimbrel, a juvenile ruff, a few curlew sandpiper, a knot, greenshanks and 5 lapwing. The views were brief and obscured as the birds jostled around in a large group, with the smaller birds easily lost from sight amongst the legs and bodies of the larger birds.
All the birds on the Marsh took to the air at one point and all eyes looked upwards for a potential avian predator and eventually the cause of the panic was found, a nice osprey, which had flown in to roost on the top of the small crane on the River Clyst. It settled down as did all the waders and remained there for a quite some time.
I headed off to the viewing platform when small groups of waders started to leave the Marsh, flying off towards the River Clyst and Exe. The platform was packed out too but I managed to get a spot and had some great views of the waders as they fed on the exposed mud, initially quite close to the platform before they moved further away as the tide went out. It was good fun picking out curlew sandpipers from the feeding dunlins and I had some great views of what is one of my favourite birds. It was difficult to get a count of curlew sandpipers as they were very mobile amongst the wader flock but others on the platform estimated around 13+ birds present. 2 little stints were also picked out amongst the feeding dunlins along with a few knot.
Viewing Platform Menu!
Greenshank with coloured leg rings
The osprey was still sat on the top of the crane while a second bird was watched soaring over the river near Powderham being mobbed by 2 carrion crows. Later the same bird or possibly another bird was distantly seen soaring over Dawlish Warren where it was putting up all the roosting birds.
After meeting David and having some lunch in Topsham I headed back to the viewing platform, seeing a Sandwich tern roosting on a buoy in the river channel and a feeding whimbrel along the way. The viewing platform was birdless except for the osprey still present on the crane top. Dave from Daves Diary fame was there and he put me on to a nice male redstart which was feeding along a nearby hedgerow, giving brief views only as it flitted down to the ground before flying back in to cover.
Back in the hide the osprey was still on show before flying off, only to return around 20 minutes later. A green sandpiper was feeding out in the open right in front of the hide with some teal and a pair of shoveler, the male in eclipse plumage. A little stint was feeding along the waters edge and gradually came right in front of the hide, giving excellent views and not much bigger than a pied wagtail feeding nearby. At the back of the Marsh a water rail appeared for brief periods from amongst the reeds and a fox sunning itself and migrant hawkers flying around finished off a great day out as we headed off home in the new car (very posh!).
With the sightings of osprey and little stint my year list now stands at 196, the most I have ever reached before, and 4 away from my target of 200.