The area is good for birds of prey with peregrines and buzzards regularly seen and hen harriers and short-eared owls in winter. Otters are also known to frequent this area, but you will probably have to be happy with finding a sprainting (defecation) site. Of special interest on the mud flats in winter is the flock of hundreds of avocets. they remain out on the open estuary, floating in a group at high tide, and can be seen upstream of the Turf Hotel at the lower end of the ship canal. One of the best ways to view the waders and wildfowl of the estuary and to be sure of a sighting of avocets is to obtain a place on an RSPB "Avocet Cruise". These trips run at certain times between November and March, full details can be obtained from the RSPB South-West Regional Office (01392 833632). Topsham Birdwatching & Naturalist Society does run an occasional bird boat trip on the River Exe, starting and finishing at Topsham. Always check our programme for details and other interesting things.