Sunday 27 January – Exe Estuary Leader: Alastair Fraser

35 intrepid birders boarded the coach for our annual trip to the Exe estuary. The weather forecast was unfavourable with promises of high wind and rain. Alastair suggested that if anyone wanted to abandon the trip on account of the weather forecast they were welcome to do so. There were no takers, so off we set. Our first port of call was to be Dawlish Warren. Journeying along the motorway Alastair spotted five Buzzards. Another member saw a group of over twenty Red-legged Partridge and a group of Lapwings on the wetlands.
On arrival at Dawlish Warren it was dry, but with very strong blustery winds. That however, didn’t stop us from walking along the seafront. Some members spotted a Red-throated Diver and a Black-throated Diver, and everyone was able to have close views of groups of Great Crested Grebes. The strong winds and high tide meant there were fewer waders than would have been expected. However, there were the usual Cormorants, Shags and gulls flying around. Some members saw a Grey Seal. Some of us walked out to the hides and were rewarded with close-up views of Knot, Dunlin, Curlew, and Oystercatcher which were sheltering near the hide due to the high tides. Others wandered along the marshes looking for the smaller birds amongst the trees and shrubs, but there were only a few Great and Blue Tits. We could hear some twittering of Goldfinches but could not spot them. The smaller birds were wisely staying out of the strong winds.
After lunch, we headed back to Exminster and walked along the road alongside the RSPB wetlands, and on to the towpath beside the canal and river, to rejoin the coach at Powderham. There were the usual large group of Canada Geese, Brent Geese, Greylag Geese and a lone Egyptian Goose. Also, Redshanks, Common Gulls, a group of Black-headed Gulls, one already with its black head, a large number of Black-tailed Godwits and at least one Bar-tailed. Thanks to Gareth for pointing out the difference. We counted an amazing 74 species. I believe a great time was had by all. I am sure the other members of the group would want to join me in saying a big thank you to Judy for coordinating the trip and to Alastair for leading us on the day. Joyce Donkor