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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 06:55 GMT
Birds flock to region for winter
Avocets
Another 500 avocets are expected in the estuary
One of the South West's most beautiful migrant birds has started returning to the region for the winter.

About 100 avocets have landed on the Exe Estuary in east Devon with another 500 expected to follow.

The area is a popular nesting site for up to 40 different species of bird.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is holding a series of cruises to allow enthusiasts to see the birds.

Cormorants
Cormorants are commonly seen at the Exe

The avocets come to Devon to escape the chilly winters in their usual home areas such as Suffolk and Yorkshire.

Pete Gotham of the RSPB said: "They're incredibly graceful birds. They've got a long bill, like most waders, but it re-curves at the tip. They wander along sweeping this beak from side to side."

The Exe also has a strong migratory population of black-tailed godwits.

Up to 700 fly to the area from northern Europe in winter.

Winter migrants

Cormorants too are commonly seen, even though they are one of the rarer seabirds.

The estuary can be very good for birdwatchers. At low tide, the channel is relatively narrow, allowing people on boats to get close to the mud flats to see the birds.

More winter migrants will now arrive daily on the Exe. Their numbers usually peak in January.

As the weather improves, they will start to fly back north to return to their breeding grounds.

The RSPB's birdwatching cruises will run from November until March.


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See also:

11 Oct 02 | England
23 Jul 02 | UK
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