Best Exeter Wildlife, E. Quayside to the Exe Estuary, Exeter

Best Exeter Wildlife, E. Quayside to the Exe Estuary, Exeter

The River Exe rises on the high moors of Exmoor National Park north west of Simonsbath and arcs south east towards the Dulverton area on the fringe of the Park before flowing south through Tiverton to Exeter. From there, the river runs into the Exe Estuary and the English Channel at Exmouth. The wetland system of the Exe Estuary is an exceptionally important wildlife site.

'The estuary is particularly important for birds in winter, when the mild climate and suitable feeding areas attract tens of thousands of wetland birds - some of them from the UK but many travelling from northern and eastern Europe. Up to 20,000 wading birds and ducks, geese and swans can be present mid-winter, making the area important on an international scale. The estuary also provides a vital feeding and resting area for many thousands of birds migrating to and from their northern breeding territories.' (RSPB Exe Estuary Nature Reserves leaflet)


RSPB Nature Reserves

Bowling Green Marsh RSPB Nature Reserve

Bowling Green Marsh is located on the east side of the Exe Estuary by Topsham.

'Bowling Green Marsh is the main high tide roost for the north of the [Exe Estuary] and one of the premier birdwatching sites in south-west England.' (RSPB Exe Estuary Nature Reserves leaflet)

Exminster Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve

Exminster Marshes is located on the west side of Exe Estuary between Exminster and The Turf and Turf Locks.

'The wetland bird spectacle is at its best in winter, when hundreds of ducks and flocks of lapwings, curlews and black-tailed godwits can be seen on the marshes. In spring, the marshes are particularly important for regionally scarce nesting lapwings and redshanks.' (Information board at Exminster Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve)

Powderham Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve

Powederham Marshes sits below Exminster Marshes.

Matford Marsh RSPB Nature Reserve

Matford Marsh is located by Exeter Canal on the edge of Exeter.


The Old Sludge Beds Nature Reserve

Situated between Exeter Canal and the River Exe below the M5 spanning the wetland.

'The Old Sludge Beds are an important wetland nature reserve. There should be lots to see and hear whatever time of year you visit.' Highlights include warbler, Pipistrelle bats, peacock butterfly, grass snakes and slow worms. (Information board on site)


Exmouth Local Nature Reserve

Exmouth sits on the mouth of the Exe Estuary. Exmouth Local Nature Reserve covers the estuary by the town.

'Designated due to the highly productive mudflats and eelgrass beds, which provide a rich food source for birds.' (Information board at Exmouth)


The Maer Local Nature Reserve

Located in Exmouth behind Exmouth Beach.


Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve

A sand spit pushes out into the mouth of the Exe Estuary from the popular holiday destination Dawlish Warren.

Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve 'is one of the most important wildlife sites in Europe'. 'Up to 23,000 wildfowl and wading birds travel to the estuary from the far north to escape the cold each winter. They start arriving in August and stay to late March. Some travel from as far away as Siberia! The mudflats and sand spit at Dawlish Warren are vital to the survival of these birds.' Highlights include dunlin, turnstone, grey plover, ringed plover and oystercatcher. (Information board at Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve) 


Cricklepit Mill Nature Reserve

Situated by Exeter Quayside.


Exeter Valley Parks

Follow Exeter Canal or the River Exe from Exeter Quayside and you come to Exeter Valley Parks.


Stuart Line Cruises

Stuart Line Cruises run a number of trips in the Exe Estuary and along the coastline. A great way to see the local wildlife.


RSPB Avocet Cruises

Learn about the wildlife on the Exe Estuary with RSPB guides on an Avocet Cruise.