A Lunchtime Stroll
A day of heavy showers, so I had to pick my time for a lunchtime stroll from work on the side of the Exe estuary. I dashed out straight after a heavy shower and found myself down at Exton station in next to no time! I was indulging in 'dude birding' as it was binoculars only as I was without my 'scope. Hence I saw nothing very exciting, but there were plenty of birds on the estuary, though about eighty per cent of them were a long way out. There were lots of Bar-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Grey Plover and Dunlin fairly close in, but the Avocets were just 'white blobs with dark bits' over towards Exminster Marshes. A few Black-tailed Godwits were present too. A Buzzard was soaring in the cold wind over the other side of the estuary, whilst a Little Egret flew in and landed on 'my' side of the Exe. It immediately hunched up and pointed its bill into the wind! Not too many wildfowl were present though. A few Red-breasted Mergansers were in the channel, and a small clump of Mallard had batoned down the hatches in the wind. A couple of Brent Geese flew up the other side of the river. All of a sudden there was another sharp heavy shower. I dived into the shelter on the station platform, whilst the wind and rain whistled around me. Strange thing though today was the total lack of trains - perhaps they were out on strike or something. The nature of the single track line means that trains go south to Exmouth, then 'reverse' back up to Topsham, where the next train waits on the double track. This normally means there is a train thundering by every few minutes, but not today!
So it was a fairly quiet shelter on the platform today. Once the shower had passed, I had one more good scan over the estuary, then set out back to work. However, this was not before I had spotted a party of six Knot feeding with the Bar-tailed Godwit flock - small, dumpy, hunched up, neckless, chunky, call them what you will, they are always a pleasure to see! A Grey Heron was stood out on the tideline, also hunched up against the weather. A Kestrel was hovering alongside the railway track as I left the estuary-side. I luckily got back to work before the next shower came up.