Devon-The Exe Estuary 11 January 2011

Red-breasted Goose among the Brents

Avocets roosting at the mouth of the Clyst

Devon- A day out around the Exe
11 January 2011

We set off on a rather blustery day at 0700, seeing a Little Egret on the way and stopping at Exeter Services, we made a quick search of a local industrial estate for Waxwings that had been reported earlier in the week. We did not find any so headed for RSPB Exminster Marshes. A search from the railway bridge revealed many common wetland and hedgerow passerines but the 8 European. White-fronted Geese were most notable as they are scarce in Devon. This ‘lost’ flock was associating with Canada Geese. We walked along the crop laden part of the reserve searching for Cirl Buntings but the wind was gusting and this forced the passerines, mostly Chaffinch and Linnet to move rapidly between deep cover and the crops.

We abandoned our search and headed for the estuary. Our first stop was to look over Shutterton Creek where 2-3 Slavonian Gebes were quickly located, one showed very close with a Little Grebe near the wreck and a distant Black-necked Grebe. A party of 7 Greater Scaup were also present, an adult male, a first winter male and five female/imms. Shags, Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Dark-bellied Brent, Oystercatcher and c20 Red-breasted Merganser were all showing nicely. A distant female Goldeneye was also noted.

Moving on toward Dawlish Warren we saw a Greenshank in the Cockwood harbour along with a Redshank. After a lunch stop at Dawlish Warren we did a sea-watch at the seawall which was productive, 3 Red-throated Diver, two on the water on flew west, a female Common Scoter flew in and joined an Eider. A further three Eider were near Warren Point and another single was offshore making five. A stunning male Common Scoter few by and landed on the sea. A close Slavonian Grebe was nice and we noted 9 Great Crested Grebe. A single Guillemot and 5 Razorbill were added as well as a Fulmar, Kittiwake and Gannets. All in all it was not bad for a windy day.

Back at Starcross we searched through the Brents and Ruth spotted the Red-breasted Goose. Curlew and Oystercatcher were also feeding on the turf.

Our last port of call was at Topsham for the tide. The viewing platform on the Clyst Estuary commanded views as the tide dropped and we watched a flock of Avocet and a couple of Black-tailed Godwit among the gulls. A Short-eared Owl was picked up flying over the estuary heading for Exminster but it was intercepted by the gulls and continued to circle high over the estuary. Moving to the Exe we watched huge numbers of Avocet and other waders. Back at the hide at Bowling Green Marsh RSPB we sifted through the Wigeon and Teal, a Pintail and Spotted Redshank were spotted. We spent awhile watching the common birds and finished with a Goldcrest as is got dark.

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