Slapton Ley in Devon is the largest natural lake in
south west Britain. It was formed over 3,000 years ago when this shingle ridge
or bar created a natural dam across a river estuary.
wildlife habitats at Slapton.|
Photo - Natural England/Peter Wakeley
This nationally important feature is gradually
being eaten away by the advancing sea.
In 1959 a field studies centre
was created at Slapton to monitor this unusual freshwater phenomenon.
a result it's believed more research has been carried out here than at any other
National Nature Reserve.
Mysterious water beast
National Nature Reserve at Slapton Ley is home to one of our most mysterious watery
beasts - the Eel.
During the autumn Eels start to migrate back to the sea
to breed so keep an eye out for them in the water and on land.
look very different looking eels depending on their age, even though they belong
to the same species.
Yellow Eels are residents who is not old enough to
breed yet, whilst silver Eels are more mature - they turn this colour when they
are ready to mate and then migrate back to their breeding grounds in the Sargasso
The Rivers Trust monitors the eel population, its numbers, and movements.
of the great things about Slapton is its circular nature trail walk.
out for Butcher's Broom, a peculiar plant which looks a little like holly, with
its spiky evergreen leaves and red berries.
In fact this is a member of
the Lily family and it's an indicator of ancient woodland, only found in the south
Its name is derived from the fact that butchers used to tie
together sprigs of its bristly branches and use it to sweep up their shops - like
As evening approaches Slapton Ley boasts a top wildlife experience
- a Starling roost.
The birds turn up in huge flocks and watching them swooping
around the early evening skies can be truly spectacular.
aren't something you might associate with freshwater areas but Slapton Ley provides
a great habitat for them.
Some of the Badger sets are located just yards
away from the reed beds.
Although it's quite unusual being so close to
the water, it is believed that the Badgers struggle to find their natural food
of worms during the long hot summers when the ground is hard.
to wander out into the wet reed bed and feast on a whole host of creepy crawlies
that survive in the moist reed beds.
Starling image copyright and courtesy
of RSPB Images and David Kjaer.
images courtesy of Natural England and Peter Wakeley.