However when it's one of the best times of year for birdwatching and you're staying next to a nature reserve you can't help but ♥ birdwatching and become serious birdwatchers for a few days. You don't need to wear special clothes or have expensive telescopic equipment or to 'twitch'; birdwatching can be fun for everyone.
That was what we found last week when we visited our Devon relatives in Seaton. Seaton's not just about its shingle beach and sharply shelving seashore (try saying that after a few Devon ciders). Or its tramline running alongside the river. It's all about the Axe Estuary Wetlands at this time of year.
|View from the wetlands towards the coast|
Not far from the beach and easily visible from the tram, the Wetlands consists of three nature reserves managed by East Devon District Council on the lower river Axe. The three reserves almost link up by footpath to make one huge nature area, and that is the long term goal.
There is a lot to see and do there: saltmarsh, freshwater grazing marsh, ponds, a purpose-built Sand Marten habitat, birdhides, a classroom and information centre (currently with a live webcam streaming the latest news from a Kestrel and a Bluetits' nest - BBC Springwatch eat your heart out!). All this is accessible via a network of footpaths including some that are buggy, wheelchair and bicycle friendly. And it's all free.
We walked through the reserve a few times during our stay, but the highlight has to be the sunny evening we spent in one of the birdhides, anticipating the arrival of the local Barn Owl on its nightly hunting excursion. Whilst we were waiting, we enjoyed the antics of all sorts of water birds. At this time of year, many are sitting on nests (can you spot the Coot's nest in the photo above?) or looking after young. The goslings and ducklings were super cute.
|Canada Goose and young|
Just when we were about to give up hope of seeing the Barn Owl, it swooped over the shallow scrape in exactly the place we weren't looking for it (thank heavens for a knowledgeable, eagle-eyed local). Even with the Barn Owl, though, it would still have been a magical evening.
|Blurry barn owl shot|
Check out a proper birdwatching blog by an Axe Valley birder - click here
Axe Estuary Wetlands information - click here
Seaton Tramway - click here
Information about Seaton (the poor relation of Lyme Regis, Sidmouth, Beer and all those posher places - but we think Seaton's much more down-to-earth and well worth a visit) - click here
Our favourite binoculars (Daughter was given a pair by Granmy and Grandad and we all fight to use them). They're really lightweight and portable, and we'd say they're not just for children - click here
Watch Springwatch on TV, by all means, but don't forget to take advantage of the light evenings and get out there and do some real 'watching'!
Many thanks to Daughter for all the photography in this blog post, except for the Barn Owl photo which was taken by Son.