Exe Estuary

The Exe starts on Exmoor in Somerset and runs in a southerly direction to form the divide between East and South Devon. The Exe Estuary provides outstanding birdwatching opportunities within a relatively small area. The main sites are mentioned below:

Bowling Green Marshes, Topsham. Hide at SX 971877 (Please park in a Topsham car park and walk). Really on the banks of the river Clyst, a small RSPB reserve with hide; a good high tide roosting area.

Exminster Marshes. Car parks at SX 954872 & SX 963873. The marshes and estuary are best viewed from the Exeter Ship Canel tow path. The meadows here include part of an RSPB reserve area and long term management is planned to attract more of the waders to roost on the fields at high tide.

Powderham. Small parking area at SX 973844. This central part of the estuary is a good area to see curlews, black-tailed godwits, grey and ringed plovers and dunlins. Mid-tide is the best time.

Dawlish Warren Local Nature Reserve. Hide at SX 987795 . A large sand spit with saltings and mud flats across the mouth of the Exe, the Warren is a nature reserve and an extensive holiday beach all in one. Increased wardening of the Warren reserve has led to an impressive rarity list which includes sightings of passerines like Red-eyed Vireo and common Rosefinch.

Just north of Exmouth lies one of the major feeding areas for the estuary's waders and wildfowl. In late autumn and winter, wildfowl arrive to graze on the extensive eelgrass beds, with thousands of brent geese and widgeon, plus sizeable groups of pintails and mute swans. Also present will be bar-tailed godwits, grey plovers, knots, avocets and a few little egrets. The main tidal channels are a good place to see red-breasted mergansers and shags. Large car park and toilets near bus and train station (SX998811).