Students from Cornwall College Newquay have given top billing to a bird watching field trip on the Exe Estuary.
Spring is the perfect time for twitchers and for the group of students studying a range of Zoology, Marine and Conservation courses, their birdwatching cruise was a perfect opportunity to indulge their passion for the wide range of birdlife that occupy the marshes on the banks of the Exe.
“The annual birdwatching trip is always one of the highlights of the year for me,” said Lawrence Moores, Curriculum Lead for Zoology & Conservation at Cornwall College Newquay.
“We like to give our students the chance to visit the River Exe as it really is one of the best places to see estuarine birds in the south west of England. This trip was an opportunity to spot a wide range of species in large numbers. We saw some beautiful flocks of the rare avocet and the students all really enjoyed the experience.”
With expert guidance from a local ornithologist, the students were given a detailed insight into the species, habitat and behaviours of the thousands of birds that populate the area.
The group were lucky enough to spot over 20 different species of birds, including the black-tailed godwit, curlew, greenshank, oystercatcher, cormorant, little egret, red-breasted merganser, pintail, golden plover, turnstone, Slavonian grebe, great crested grebe, Shel duck, dunlin, sanderling, common gull, black-headed gull, shag, great black-backed gull and redshank.
One of the highlights of the trip was getting to see groups of avocet; a species that is not common in Britain and it is afforded special protection. The avocet has a distinctive and graceful appearance, black and white in colour with lead-blue legs and a long and slender up-curved bill.
“Even though the weather was against us, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip,” said FdSc Conservation & Ecology student Cerin Poland.
“I always find it fascinating to observe wildlife in its natural habitat, it is a totally different experience to looking at pictures or watching it on TV,” Cerin continued.
“I saw several species I had not seen before and got to learn about their behaviour and in which habitat you would find them. My personal favourites were the avocets and eiders, both very pretty birds.
“The trip has given me extra knowledge and experience which will be useful for my course work and exam in the Bird Survey Techniques module. It is also really helpful to see these habitats in the flesh, giving me a better understanding of why they are important and need to be protected.”
For more information on the range of Wildlife Education, Animal Behaviour & Management and Zoological, Marine & Ecological Conservation courses available at Cornwall College Newquay visit www.cornwall.ac.uk or call 0330 123 2523.