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Avocet cruises

Various dates between 3 September 2013 and 2 March 2014

  • Staff on hand to help
  • Refreshments available
  • Parking
  • Toilets
'Sea Dream II', one of the two boats used for RSPB Avocet Cruise

Image: Andy Hay

With expert commentary on each cruise, you'll learn something new and exciting about the Exe Estuary and its residents

A few years ago, you would have been lucky to spot us avocets anywhere, but today we're a conservation success story.

With our black-and-white plumage, and our slender, curved bills, you can't miss us on the Exe Estuary this winter, especially as we often get together in flocks of up to 500, sweeping the mud in search of tasty morsels.

However, we're not the only ones here. Every winter, over 40,000 birds, including hundreds of black-tailed godwits, Brent geese and red-breasted mergansers flock to the Exe Estuary from as far afield as Siberia and Greenland. Also keep an eye out for the grey seals!

Join friendly guides on an Avocet cruise and experience one of nature's most beautiful spectacles on one of the world's greatest wetlands.

When can you see us?

There are a number of cruises throughout September to March. Take a look below for the dates and times, then simply click on the link for the cruise you're interested in for more information.

Full cruises depart from Starcross and last for approximately 3-4 hours. The mini cruises depart from Topsham and last approximately 1.5 hours. Our popular dawn cruise is back too. Advance booking is essential for all cruises.

All cruises are dependent on reasonable weather conditions. For the latest weather forecast, please check the Met Office website. All cruises are also tide-dependent.

What's at the site?

Access for disabled people
Our boat owners advise us that they welcome passengers with restricted mobility, but gaining access to the boats from departure points can be difficult. As the safety of all our passengers is of paramount importance, we are advised that a small degree of mobility (assisted if necessary) is required to negotiate the boarding of the boats. Wheelchair users must be accompanied by someone who can assist them in the event of an emergency.

Hot and cold drinks and a limited range of snacks are available on the full cruises from Starcross. Limited hot drinks are available on the mini cruises from Topsham.

Expert commentary is provided on all the cruises. The boats are partially covered and have a toilet.

How to find us

Starcross departures
By bus and rail: there are frequent bus and rail services between Exeter St David's and Starcross station.

By car: from M5 J30 southbound or A38 northbound (Wobbly Wheel junction), follow signs for A379 Dawlish. My Queen departs from the pier behind Starcross railway station, accessed by the footbridge over the railway. There is one car park nearby.

Topsham departures
By rail and bus: there are frequent bus and rail services between Exeter St David's and Exmouth stations.

By car: leave the M5 at J30 and follow the A376 to Topsham. As parking is limited, please arrive in plenty of time.

What should I bring?

Although you can buy food and drink on the full cruise, you are advised to bring your own lunch should you want something more substantial. As the Exe can be a very cold place in winter, please bring extra warm clothing and waterproofs. Telescopes can be used, but only on monopods - no tripods are allowed, for safety reasons.

Still got some questions?

Telephone: RSPB South West Regional Office on 01392 432691


Join us on one of the many events planned - we hope to see you there!


Sunday 9 November

Saturday 22 November


Sunday 7 December


Friday 16 January

Saturday 17 January

Sunday 18 January

Monday 19 January

Friday 30 January

Saturday 31 January


Sunday 1 February

Monday 2 February

Friday 6 February

Sunday 8 February


Sunday 1 March

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