Trip report: River Exe Coach Trip (4th March 2012)

As I arrived to meet up with the club members on the coach at Exminster, the rain which had been heavy all morning in Devon stopped. As we made our way down the lane towards the river, wildfowl such as Teal, Shoveler, Pintail and Wigeon were busy feeding on the flooded pools and in amongst the Wigeon we were rewarded with good views of the American Wigeon that had been in the area all winter. Canada Geese were also feeding in the fields and five Barnacle Geese were with them; these birds, presumably of wild origin, had arrived a couple of days earlier. As we started to look at the waders in the flooded fields, such as Lapwing, Golden Plover and Blacktailed Godwit, all the birds lifted and a Peregrine passed through them and gave us all good views as it sat on the nearby electrical pylon. As we arrived at the canal we managed a glimpse of some Avocets on the river – this would be our only view of the day. Large numbers of Brent Geese flew over our heads into the fields but alas the Red-breasted Goose reported recently had presumably left. As we made our way towards the Turf Hotel Cetti’s 10 Warbler was heard in the nearby bushes. Reaching the hotel (open for Coffee in March, usually closed when we visit in January!), waders were feeding on the mud on the incoming tide – Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Knot, Grey Plover, Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, with a few Red-breasted Mergansers swimming in the tidal passages. Making our way down to meet up with the coach at Powderham we saw Little Egrets in the fields and more Brent Geese, with Buzzard and Sparrowhawk over the distant trees. On arrival at Dawlish Warren we made our way to the hide on the point for the wader roost. From the lifeguard station en route we managed to see Common Scoter, Slavonian Grebe, Eider Duck and Great Crested Grebe on the sea. As the tide was not that high the wader roost was not that numerous but we did see Knot, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Redshank, Greenshank, more godwits, and Oystercatchers. At the Visitor Centre on the walk back, some of us checked out the bird feeders and in amongst the Greenfinch and Chaffinches we were rewarded with good views of a pair of Brambling.

Gordon Youdale