Trip reports

A morning walk at the Otter Estuary: river, marshes and sea.

Redshank perched on post
Redshank (RSPB images)

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Eighteen of us met up in the car park at Budleigh Salterton. I had a lovely drive in the sun to get there, but the weather had turned to rain and wind by the time we assembled. We set off eastwards along the beach, I lost my hat and the birds were wisely nowhere to be seen. The sea was reddish-brown from erosion of the cliffs because of the recent rain. By the time we reached the mouth of the Otter the rain stopped which was a relief to all. We saw two Oystercatchers on the seaweed, some crows and a selection of gulls. We came back on the lower path, looking in the salt flats. We managed some Wigeon, a few Redshanks and then a small bird flew in front of us and landed on the shingle. After much discussion it was decided that it was a Rock Pipit as it was dark, then we saw another Pipit at the edge of the mud, which was much paler and yellower, a Meadow Pipit. At the end of the path were some bushes with a lot of House Sparrows.

As we went up the path beside the river the sun came out and the bird started to sing. Spring was in the air, and I heard my first Chaffinch song of the year, which was great and gives us hope that this long grey winter is nearly over. Near the cricket pavilion was a skulking Wren which was quite visible, and a few singing Dunnocks. The fields were quite flooded, and there was a small selection of ducks, mostly Mallard, Teal, Wigeon and a few Shovelers. There were quite a few Snipe on the water margins, some easily seen. A Sparrowhawk was seen by some, not by me I may say, and I have not seen one this year (very frustrating) in the trees beyond the fields. We progressed up the path, passed a small flock of fossicking Long-tailed Tits to White Bridge. Then we went up the west side of the river. The river was fast running, muddy and full, so we saw nothing on it. Here the sky provided interest. There were Ravens overhead, and about three Buzzards. Then a different, smaller bird, which was very obliging and flew back towards us, and then in front of us, so we got good views and it was a Peregrine. It was lovely to see one flying like that. After that the rain returned and we retraced out steps to the car park. A surprisingly good list for a day when the weather was not at its best. The moral of the story is: do go out, even if the weather is uninviting, you never know what you may see!

Ann Crawford

45 bird species recorded: Brent Goose; Canada Goose; Mute Swan; Shoveler; Wigeon; Mallard; Teal; Pheasant; Little Grebe; Grey Heron; Little Egret; Sparrowhawk; Buzzard; Moorhen; Oystercatcher; Curlew; Snipe; Redshank; Black-headed Gull; Great Black-backed Gull; Herring Gull; Lesser Black-backed Gull; Wood Pigeon; Collared Dove; Peregrine; Magpie; Jackdaw; Rook; Carrion Crow; Raven; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Long-tailed Tit; Wren; Starling; Blackbird; Robin; House Sparrow; Dunnock; Pied Wagtail; Meadow Pipit; Rock Pipit; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch.