Monday 31 January 2011

River Exe Boat Trip 30th January

My annual boat trip on the River Exe from Exmouth to Topsham and back with Mavis and Mike on the Stuart Line Cruise Boat was a great way to end a great months birdwatching. The weather was perfect, clear sky and virtually no breeze but boy was it cold. A bacon buttie in the cafe by the docks set us up for the trip nicely.

A grey seal was seen poking its head out of the water just off Exmouth seafront as we picked up the tickets from the ticket office. A common seal was later seen from the boat hauled out on a sand bar, apparently it is a half blind female that has been around for a couple of years. Its eyes always look "cataracty" but seals eyes can have that funny look about them.

Bird wise it was an excellent trip, star birds being excellent views of 2 immature male and 4 female scaup, distant views of 1 slavonian grebe, excellent views of an immature male long tailed duck and excellent views of a redhead smew on the river at Topsham. All the usual waders and wildfowl were seen including 2 knot, avocets, black- and bar-tailed godwits, 1 female pintail, 3 coot, 1 great crested grebe, little grebe and brent geese.

Wigeon feeding in front of the hide at Bowling Green Marsh

After the cruise on the drive back to Plymouth we stopped off at Bowling Green Marsh to find it virtually frozen over. A small unfrozen patch held a male and female tufted duck amongst wigeon, gadwall, pochard, pintail, shoveler and teal. The bright light was perfect to admire the beauty of ducks plumage especially the male shovelers and pintail with the sound of the wigeon calling adding to the overall effect. 2 snipe were feeding along the waters edge. A fox was sunning itself along the hedgerow at the back of the marsh, making a brief unsuccessful foray after some nearby rabbits. An avocet flew in from the Clyst estuary,sleeping for around 5 minutes amongst the flock of ducks and waders surrounding the unfrozen water before flying back to the Clyst.
Mavis and Mike on the Clyst Estuary Viewing Platform

Avocet from the Viewing Platform
 A look from the viewing platform overlooking the Clyst estuary provided good views of more avocets, a grey plover and a greenshank amongst the usual godwits, redshanks, dunlin and curlews.The Goatwalk provided even closer views of avocets and black-tailed godwits and a grey wagtail. It was very warm standing in the sun out of the breeze, I could feel the sun burning my face.

An excellent day all round, good birds, good company, lovely weather and a great months birding! Total for the year now stands at 108.

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