Winter Avocet flock, by Peter Alfrey

Tour Dates 1: Monday 11th – Thursday 14th January 2021 (Exmouth to Exmouth)
Tour Dates 2: Monday 18th – Thursday 21st January 2021 (Exmouth to Exmouth) 
Tour Price: £585pp
Deposit: £250 per person
Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: £50 – £100
Minimum Number: 5 people
Maximum Group Size: 6 people

Target Species
Birds: Common Scoter, Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Velvet Scoter, Black-necked Grebe, Great Northern, Black-throated and Red-throated Divers, Purple Sandpiper, Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Peregrine, Cirl Bunting plus any local rarities!

Tour Summary
Based in the beautiful seaside town of Budleigh Salterton this short winter birdwatching trip to Devon visits a diverse number of habitats. First we visit coastal farmland for Cirl Buntings, before taking an afternoon boat trip on the Exe Estuary where we will enjoy the spectacle of hundreds of Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Brent Geese and much more! A day around the Torbay area should produce a good selection of Divers and Grebes as well as Purple Sandpiper and the chance of a rarity. Finally, an afternoon on the Pebblebed Heaths should reveal Merlin, Dartford Warbler and maybe a Hen Harrier!

ACCOMMODATION: 3 nights in Budleigh Salterton, Devon
3 nights in a very comfortable guesthouse
Included Meals: Breakfast only

DAY 1: Arrival Exmouth and transfer to Budleigh Salterton
After a mid afternoon pick-up from Exmouth train station we will take the 15 minute drive east to the coastal town of Budleigh Salterton. Once settled into your comfortable bed and breakfast we will eat at one of the excellent local Pub restaurants. Overnight Budleigh Salterton

DAY 2: East Devon Farmland and Exe Estuary
This morning we will take a short drive to the nearby coast and an area of wildlife friendly managed farmland with a healthy population of Cirl Buntings. The birds are usually easy to find and a walk along the coast should produce good views of this very localised species where birds often visit a feeding station. If the sea is calm, we may find the odd Red-throated Diver just offshore along with Auks and Common Scoters.
We will then travel to the nearby coastal town of Exmouth at the mouth of the Exe estuary where we will board our boat ready for our birding cruise! The boat trip is perfectly timed for the rising high tide and should allow us some great views of the numerous waders and wildfowl that use this internationally important site. Our cruise will last around 3 hours as we travel north up the estuary and then return south. Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit will be the commonest waders present in their hundreds along with smaller numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Grey Plover and maybe Golden Plover too. The spectacle of hundreds of Dark-bellied Brent Geese will also be a key highlight alongside smaller numbers of ducks like the fabulous Pintail and noisy Wigeon. We should also have good views of Red-breasted Merganser and there is a good chance of finding Slavonian Grebe and less common ducks like Goldeneye. Photographic opportunities will be very good and it is certain to be a memorable afternoon’s birding. Overnight Budleigh Salterton

Male Cirl Bunting, Devon by Chris Townend

DAY 3: Torbay and East Devon Commons
After an early breakfast we will travel to Torbay near Paignton and a hotspot for winter birding. We will spend the whole morning checking the numerous coastal bays for seaducks, divers and grebes. Species we hope to find include Black-necked Grebe, Common Scoter and with luck, maybe a Velvet Scoter. The Torbay area is excellent for Divers with Great Northern Diver being the commonest species but good chances for both Black-throated and Red-throated Diver too. We will also visit Broadbands where there is a feeding station for Cirl Buntings that often allow close approach. The willow patches at Broadsands sometimes also host an over-wintering Siberian Chiffchaff, Firecrest or Yellow-browed Warbler. We will then visit the old fishing village of Brixham which can also be good for divers, particularly if the sea is rough, but we will be also be looking for Purple Sandpiper and the possibility of an Iceland or Glaucous Gull.
After lunch, we will return to East Devon and visit the Pebblebed Heaths in time for any roosting raptors. Merlin can usually be found here and sometimes Hen Harrier or Short-eared Owl. Dartford Warblers should be quite vocal before dusk and if we are really lucky, we might even find a Great Grey Shrike! Overnight Budleigh Salterton

Great Northern Diver by Chris Townend

DAY 4: Budleigh Salterton – Exmouth
After a leisurely brekfast at our accommodation, we will then take the journey to Exmouth train station where the tour will conclude.

Please note this is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted slightly dependent on arrival / departure times, weather conditions and the most recent information from our local guides

Leader: Chris Townend / Mike Langman
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, breakfasts only (starting with breakfast on day 2 until breakfast on day 4), 3 hour boat trip on the Exe Estuary, ground transport and services of leader.
Not included in cost: Travel to/from Exmouth, lunches and dinners, drinks and travel insurance.
Accommodation: Good quality local guesthouse.
Single Supplement: £100
Transport: People carrier / minibus throughout.
Difficulty: Easy
We will do most of our birding just a short distance from our vehicle with walks of up to 2Km per day. The visit to the East Devon Commons will be the longest walk with a round trip of 6Km on wide open tracks.
Climate: Be prepared for a typical unpredictable English winter!
Tour Start Point: Exmouth railway station, Devon.
Tour End Point: Exmouth railway station, Devon.

Budleigh Salterton, Devon by Chris Townend