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Six reasons to take an RSPB Avocet Cruise on the River Exe

PUBLISHED: 11:19 03 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:45 04 October 2016

An Avocet pictured by Carol Lewis

An Avocet pictured by Carol Lewis


Winter is the perfect time to take your binoculars and board a boat trip up the Exe estuary, says RSPB volunteer Trevor Capell

Sea Dream II is one of two boats used for RSPB Avocet Cruises. Photo: Andy Hay/RSPBSea Dream II is one of two boats used for RSPB Avocet Cruises. Photo: Andy Hay/RSPB

The River Exe is one of Devon’s main rivers, rising on Exmoor and flowing south for more than 50 miles, until it reaches the sea at Exmouth.

During the autumn and winter season Devon’s Exe estuary comes to life and transforms into a winter wonderland for wading birds and waterfowl.

More than 20,000 birds alight on the estuary’s mudflats, to feast on the mud’s rich crop of plants and creepy crawlies.

There is no better way to experience it than from onboard one of the RSPB Avocet Cruises. Friendly RSPB guides onboard will help visitors discover the magic of this premier wetland and its winter wildlife.

Avocets in flight. Photo: Nick TomalinAvocets in flight. Photo: Nick Tomalin

Here are six reasons to get out on one of the cruises this winter:

1. Over 200 different bird species have been spotted on the Exe, including black-tailed godwits from Iceland and dark-bellied Brent geese from Siberia.

2. In the winter months over 700 avocets visit the Exe Estuary.

3. The estuary is recognised as an internationally important site because an estimated 40,000 waterbirds over-winter onsite.

Look out for grey seals. Photo: Nick TomalinLook out for grey seals. Photo: Nick Tomalin

4. In the spring, visitors can see lapwings and redshanks and sometimes the rare Cetti’s warblers.

5. Grey seals can often be seen on the estuary.

6. The estuary’s mud makes it a rich feeding ground for birds, supporting eelgrass, molluscs and other foods high in nutrients.

The RSPB’s Avocet cruises run from Sunday 13 November to Monday 27 February. Learn more at


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