Birdwatching Trip Report – 19th February 2023
The first Birdwatching Tram of 2023 coincided with a beautifully still, sunny and mild morning, making for a thoroughly enjoyable two hours watching the wildlife in the Lower Axe Valley.
A Great White Egret, at times showing next to a Grey Heron and Little Egret, was the rarity highlight of the morning. Although increasing in the UK, and now breeding in some numbers on the Somerset Levels, these large egrets are still sporadic in their appearances on the Axe.
A Coot, which may seem like a species you would expect to see on wetlands, was also something of a rarity. With a lack of fresh, still and deep water in the Axe Valley, the habitat is not quite right for Coot, unlike ditch-loving Moorhens which are plentiful. One Coot however has spent the winter on Seaton Marshes, and despite its best efforts at trying to remain hidden from the tram, it was (just about!) showing on the large lagoon of water near Seaton Marshes hide.
Although the mild weather and amount of bird song made the trip feel very spring-like, many of the winter visitors that can be found in the valley were still present in good numbers, including Wigeon, Teal, Lapwing (400+), Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits. A handful of Snipe showed briefly in flight near Black Hole Marsh and a small flock of Shoveler looked settled on Seaton Marshes. A couple of Mediterranean Gulls were nice to see on the Estuary amongst the large numbers of Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls.
During the final leg of the return journey back to Seaton Station, a Black Redstart sat up briefly on a nearby house roof. Although this species winters in Seaton in very small numbers, they are not often seen from the tram line.
A total of 58 bird species were recorded during the two hours, see below for the full trip list.
In addition to the birds, a resting Fox and three Roe Deer added even more excitement to a fantastic morning out.
Species list - 19/02/2023
Great White Egret
Water Rail (heard only)
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon
Cetti's Warbler (heard only)
Wren (heard only) Starling