Location Otter Estuary SY076828
Road Access Parking at Lime Kiln or limited parking by White Bridge – see notes
Habitat Estuary, salt marsh and reed beds
Size Hide only
Access General access
Site Manager Ray Hamilton
Tenure By agreement

Otter Estuary Scrape

Places to GoOtter Estuary

The Reserve is situated at the eastern end of the esplanade at Budleigh Salterton and comprises the River Otter and adjacent salt marsh areas from the estuary northwards to White Bridge, on the eastern end of the public footpath.  The Reserve also includes the reed beds on the western side of the footpath.  There are four display boards and a hide either side of the river together with two viewing platforms. 

The whole area is managed by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust on behalf of Clinton Devon Estate.  The Trust with the agreement of the tenant farmer have developed and are continuing to develop scrape areas which do not form part of the Reserve but these have added a tremendous diversity to the area. 

Access

There is a pay and display car park at Lime Kiln which as accessed by turning left from Coastguard Road.  Alternatively, there is limited parking at White Bridge which is accessed from the A3178 on entering Budleigh Salterton turning left onto South Farm Road, but this does become popular during holiday periods. 

Hide

The Devon Birds' Hide overlooks the River Otter estuary and saltmarsh at SY076828.

Circular Walk

Walking northwards from Lime Kiln Car park on the raised footpath until you reach White Bridge on South Farm Road, follow the footpath northwards until it curves left just before the aqueduct and heads southwards.   By following the footpath you eventually reach the Cricket Field at Budleigh after re-crossing South Farm Road to reach the car park.  The western side of the walk can be muddy in wet weather as it is also used to move the resident dairy herd.  With the number of drainage channels along the walk, there is during the summer months a variety of dragonflies. 

Resident Birds

There are a number of species resident throughout the year, although weather conditions will dictate the variety available.  The commoner farmland and hedgerow birds will be seen together with Water Rail, Reed Bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Shelduck and Cetti’s warbler which are more often heard than seen.  Dipper will often be encountered by following the footpath northwards to Otterton and beyond.  Common Buzzard often circle the Reserve and adjacent areas are a regular sight with the odd incoming raptor causing mayhem to the resident Gull flock. 

Spring/Summer

From mid-March Wheatears appear before moving swiftly northwards. Chiffchaff and Blackcap are the first to announce their arrival quickly followed by Willow Warbler and common Whitethroat.  Up to a dozen singing Reed Warblers have been recorded from the reed beds together with a smaller number of Sedge Warblers.  Shelduck breed on or near the Reserve with a maximum count in early Spring of 25 +, many of which disappear to breed elsewhere.  House Martins actively collect mud from the river and Swallows regularly nest under White Bridge seeming quite indifferent to the number of people in the area. 

Autumn/Winter

Widgeon and Teal numbers gradually build up during the Autumn with counts of up to 800 and 250 respectively.  Within the roosting Gull flock will often be recorded Mediterranean and Common Gull.  There has been an impressive sighting of rarer Gulls in the last few years with Bonaparte, Iceland, Glaucous, Capsian and American Herring Gull.

Goosander overwinter on the River, ranging from the estuary northwards.  Although it was not the case for 2011/12 there has in previous years been a substantial roost of Starlings whose murmuration over the reed beds attracted many admirers on late winter afternoons.