Two wildlife refuges in the Exe Estuary help visitors to care for visiting wild birds

Summer begins to mellow, winds begin to change and that is the herald for the beginning of a spectacular time of year for wildlife on the internationally important Exe Estuary.

As breeding grounds in Siberia turn icy cold and food supplies there dwindle, this prompts an exhausting annual migration of thousands of water birds. The rich food resources found in the Exe provide a welcome home to these birds, many of which travel in family groups.

With these changes in mind, people are asked to avoid wildlife refuges on the Exe Estuary at Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve (all year round) and Exmouth Local Nature Reserve (15 September to 31 December) to protect wildlife for future generations. The wildlife refuges are marked with yellow buoys with “WR” in black letters printed on them.

The Imperial Recreation Ground slipway in Exmouth can still be used to access the foreshore during this time, although everyone is being asked to turn left at the end of the slipway, to avoid the refuge.

Both refuges continue to be monitored to understand the effects on wildlife, with the results of the second year due to be reported to the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee (SEDHREC) in November. A report which considers how well the refuges are working is due to be completed in Summer 2021.

Councillor Rachel Sutton, Exeter City Council’s Lead Councillor for Climate and Culture and Chair of SEDHREC, said:

The chance to see vast numbers of overwintering and migrating birds is one of the joys of visiting the Exe Estuary in the autumn. We hope that everyone will respect the Wildlife Refuges to avoid disturbing the birds at this important time.