Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A trip to the Exe

After Saturday's Somerset delights, it was a mid-morning Sunday start to the Exe Estuary to give the bird commentary on the RSPB's avocet cruise. I went with a birding friend Dave and popped in to Dawlish Warren first to try and track down a surf scoter from North America - this type of duck is rare in the UK. As we scanned out to sea there were lots of common scoters and after 15 minutes or so Dave found the surf scoter - it has a steep Roman-nosed beak and a tail that sticks out of the water! Dave also managed to seek out a red-throated diver and two black-throated divers!

The cruise went well (photos to follow!) and we had some warm, very pleasant winter sunshine. It was so relaxing - I got very sleepy mid-way through (fortunately not when I was doing the commentary!!). The birds showed well including four great northern divers (just metres away from the boat with one only a foot or two away), two slavonian grebes, brent geese, shags and lots of avocets, godwits and other wading birds. There was a kingfsher in Starcross and turnstones busily turning the seaweed - it looked alive from a distance!!

To finish off the day we popped back to Dawlish catching up with the scoters on a now calm sea and spotted a gannet on the horizon. Eight black-necked grebes were on the sea further down the coast while herring gulls chilled out nearby, hoping for someone's hot donut or other scrap!

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