Sunday, 4 March 2012


On Friday afternoon a Spoonbill turned up at Exminster Marsh. I debated shooting over there, but we'd promised Vera that we'd take her to The Maer, her favourite place. There's no way we could disappoint her, so I decided to go yesterday (Saturday) morning.

When I arrived the Barnacle Geese & American Wigeon were on Birdguides, but not the Spoonbill, so I checked out Powderham Marsh instead. It wasn't there either, just the usual including Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Heron, a couple of Little Egret & loads of Chafffinch & Linnet.

Powderham Marsh
A Chaffinch hedge
I then walked up Station Road to see if I could get a better view of the American Wigeon than I had in January on the estuary, but despite peering at lots of wigeon, I couldn't find it. I did however see the Water Pipit again.

Now & again since 20th February, a Spotted Redshank has been shown on Birdguides & Devon Bird News as being either on the estuary near to the mouth of the River Kenn, or on the Kenn itself. I thought I'd give it a try even though it was last posted on Birdguides on 29th Feb. I'd never been to that part of the estuary before, it doesn't look very promising with the railway running beside the estuary on one side of the road & the fenced in Powderham Estate on the other. The estate is the ancestral home of the Earl of Devon & has a castle built in 1391. One of the estate's claims to fame is that it had a female tortoise called Timothy that died in 2004 aged 165!

Powderham Castle & its Fallow Deer herd
I found the River Kenn, but couldn't actually see much of it through the fence of the estate. I walked a short way down a footpath that goes across the estate, but could see even less from there. There were 6 sleeping Greenshank on the bank, but that was about it.

A very limited view of the River Kenn
I went over the railway lines at the crossing for a quick look, although it was almost high tide. There was a little bit of bank visible, but not a lot & I couldn't see anything on it with the bins. I couldn't use the scope as a fisherman was hogging the top step.

I had lunch whilst waiting for the tide to go down a bit, & had a look at the 'Where to Watch Birds' guide. It mentioned that there are in fact 2 branches of the river Kenn, the Northern one widening into a shallow mere. Aha! Maybe I was looking in the wrong place! I walked along the road & found the second branch, but there were no birds there at all. There were however loads of herons & Little Egrets & a few other ducks on the ponds in the estate.

The Northern branch of the River Kenn
The fisherman was still hogging the railway steps, so I headed back for a walk along the sea wall from Powderham Church towards Turf Lock. There was a disappointing lack of birds both on the meadows behind the sea wall & on the estuary. The only birds of interest were 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese that swam along the edge of the water before flying off across the estuary. I stopped short of Turf Lock as the heavens opened.

Rainbow on the Exe

I was feeling a bit weary so drove back to the River Kenn. The tide had gone out far enough for the fisherman to have given up & gone, so I had the top step to myself. The tide hadn't gone out far  so there wasn't too much of the bank visible, but it was fairly active with a lot of Redshank, a few Greenshank & Turnstone. A few of the Redshank were quite close, but they were lining the bank intermittently all the way to the Yacht Club in the distance. Fingers crossed. I started with the closest ones & luckily there was a paler one with a longer bill & a nice white eye stripe! It was the Spotted Redshank! Phew!

The Spotted Redshank was on the rocks mid photo. Yacht Club in the distance.
I headed for home, well making a quick detour into Exminster to go Woodlark hunting. Still no luck, but I did find 2 Cirl Buntings, the first time I've found my own!

I then checked Birdguides to see that a Stone Curlew had turned up in Seaton! I thought about making a dash for it, but decided that there probably wasn't enough daylight left. Hoping that it would stay longer than the Spoonbill, I really did head home.

Year List on 138 plus 1 Sub-species

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