of wet habitats
The Exe Estuary is one of England's smaller estuaries, but it supports a wealth
This is a traditional stopping point for migratory birds,
including Avocets, Curlews, Lapwings, and Brent Geese.
The Exe Estuary's mud is rich in bird food such
as Lugworms, which the waders dig down deep to find.
In winter, during
floods and at high tide, bird watchers can see thousands of ducks, geese and wading
birds roosting and feeding.
Hundreds of Avocets can also be seen
on the estuary in winter. These once rare birds are now increasing in numbers.
distinctive bird is characterised by long, spindly legs and its upwardly curved,
The Curlew is another distinctive visitor, distinguished by
its downturned beak which it uses to probe deep into the mud for food.
In the mid winter there's 25,000 birds in the Exe estuary. Thousands
come down from northern Europe to join resident species and feed on the rich marine
Brent Geese winter here after flying all the way from Siberia to feed
on the grassy fields alongside the estuary.
After they've fed on a specific
patch of grass, they return exactly four days later to the same spot, allowing
the grass to regenerate and produce the nutrients that the birds need.
the great expanse of mud in the estuary looks bleak, it's a birds' paradise, full
of cockles, lugworms and other food.
Bowling Green Marsh
of the best places to watch the birds is at Bowling Green Marsh outside Topsham,
five miles from Exeter.
The marsh is located in a narrow part of the estuary
Bowling Green Marsh boats a great selection of birds including
Waders, Wigeon, Shovelers, Pintails, and Teal.
Lapwings are easily spotted
by their black and white colouring, distinctive headcrest, and twitching leg designed
to disturb invertebrates in the soil.
man's influence on the environment has put some of these breeding grounds under
Now the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is sculpting
the landscape in a different way, in an attempt to preserve the fragile ecosystem.
The RSPB is aiming to return Goosemoor, six hectares of pasture land at the
head of the Exe Estuary, to its original state as an intertidal habitat.
The site is right next door to the existing wildlife reserve at Bowling Green
One of the birds the RSPB is hoping will make a home there is
They already spend the winter on the Exe, but the RSPB wants
them to stay and breed along with other waders like Redshank.
do get the Avocets to move in, the estuary would become the most westerly habitat
in the UK that the birds visit.
Photographs courtesy of RSPB.