Behaviour of birds on and around the River Exe Estuary is being monitored

Information gathered will lead to a better understanding of migratory bird behaviour on the Exe mudflats

The behaviour of birds on and around the River Exe Estuary is now being monitored for the next three years. This will help to understand the effects of people and their activities on important wildlife that live there.

Monitoring of birds will help measure the effect of new wildlife refuges at Exmouth and Dawlish Warren.

These voluntary wildlife refuges were agreed by the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee (SEDHREC) in October 2017, following a nine month public consultation. SEHDREC is a partnership of the three councils around the Exe Estuary, namely East Devon District Council, Teignbridge District Council and Exeter City Council.

Neil Harris, who is Delivery Manager for the partnership, said:

The Wildlife Refuges represent a huge win for our local environment and the internationally important species they support. They are the result of the passion and dedication of a range of people working with the partnership over a sustained period to achieve positive outcomes for people and wildlife.

The monitoring will help us to understand if the refuges are providing undisturbed feeding and resting opportunities for species which are on the very margins of survival. The Exe plays host to some fantastic, long-range migrants who travel thousands of miles to reach us. We are aiming to make sure that our hosting is as gracious as possible.

Sama Euridge, Habitat Mitigation Officer for the project, said:

The Exe Estuary is a major refuge for wintering waders and wildfowl. Recognised internationally for its conservation significance, this Site of Special Scientific Interest is also a Ramsar site - a global designation putting it in the same league as the Okavango Delta and Florida Everglades.

The mild climate and the vast feeding potential of the Exe mudflats, attracts tens of thousands of wetland birds, many from Northern and Eastern Europe. Winter visitors can include Avocet, Curlew, Godwit, Dunlin and Brent Geese. Look out for them as they arrive in September.

Amelia Davies, Habitat Mitigation Officer, said:

The monitoring will count the species of birds and their numbers as well as any human activity in the area over a short period of time throughout the next three years. The monitoring will be held at different locations around the estuary covering a range of conditions such as weather and a variety of tidal states, this will show the effects that each have on our bird populations on the Exe. The results will illustrate the impacts any activities are having on the wildlife at the time of monitoring including recreation, trains, planes, contractor works and birds of prey.

Reports of the monitoring results will be published as part of SEDHREC agendas in summer 2019, 2020 and 2021. Over time, comparisons can be made with the previous monitoring report, the Exe Disturbance Study December 2011 to determine the effectiveness of the Wildlife Refuges.

You can follow the progress of the Wildlife Refuges on Twitter @SEDevonWildlife and Facebook