Location South Huish Reserve SX678418
Road Access Via South Milton
Habitat Fresh water lake with surrounding margins
Size 6.8 ha
Access No access permitted within the Reserve
Site Manager Vic Tucker
Tenure National Trust, Devon Birds manage the area

Part of Reserve South Huish

Shoveler © Mark Darlaston

Places to GoSouth Huish

South Huish Reserve lies in a shallow valley cut off from the sea by the dunes behind South Milton Sands.  The Reserve together with the South Milton Ley Reserve in the adjacent valley and nearby coast are visited by up to 200 bird species in a typical year.

The National Trust took ownership of the Reserve in 2011.  Devon Birds has managed the Reserve since 1994 under an agreement with the previous owner.  The agreement is due to expire in 2015 and discussions are in progress with the National Trust on the future of this agreement.

When Devon Birds took over management of the Reserve shallow scrapes were formed, drains reshaped and enlarged to introduce an important new habitat, and sluices installed to control water levels.  The objective is to retain sufficient water in the scrapes to prevent them drying out over the summer.

No access is permitted within the Reserve.


The Reserve is located just inland of South Milton Sands and about 100m from Thurlestone Bay.  The Reserve can be reached either through the village of South Milton or through Galmpton.  The South Milton route is the most direct and leads to National Trust car parks on the dunes separating the Reserve from South Milton Sands.  The lower car park overlooks the Reserve and the smaller, upper car park Thurlestone Bay.   The car parks are very busy in summer and on sunny days can be full well before noon.

The Beachhouse café next to the upper car park is open most of the year and is very busy in school holidays.

Viewing the Birds

No access is permitted within the meadowlands.

The scrape nearest the sea can be viewed from the lower car park, although reeds do obscure some views.  The best location to view both scrapes and the whole of the Reserve is the bank adjacent to the café.  Thurlestone Bay can also be seen from the same place, providing the best of both worlds.

The ditches draining the upper part of the Reserve are best viewed from the lane running past the houses on the south side of the Reserve, a short walk from the lower car park.

The field immediately behind the café is always worth a scan as is the small copse on the opposite side of the lane from beachfront properties  at the South Milton Sands.


Good numbers of Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Shelduck and Gadwall are present depending on the time of year with occasional sightings of Tufted Duck, Pintail and Garganey.  Greylag and Brent geese can be found from time to time amongst the numerous Canada geese.  

Sedge and Reed Warblers are present as are Reed Buntings but as the best habitat is some distance from the viewing spots, these are more easily found at the nearby South Milton Ley Reserve.

A range of waders can be found though most are seen on the beach at South Milton Sands or adjacent reef at low tide for example Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling and Whimbrel.

During adverse weather, particularly with easterly winds, seawatching from the bank adjacent to the café has proved fruitful with sightings of Mediterranean Gulls, Kittiwake, Gannets, Terns (Sandwich and Common particularly), Arctic Skuas and Great Northern Divers for example.

Lapwing and Golden Plover are present in good numbers during cold spells, favouring the field behind the café.

The same field is also a good spot to find Wheatear, Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail during migration.


The reserve requires ongoing management to maintain the health of the meadows, keep the ditches and drains open and scrapes clear.

Current management objectives are described in detail in the South Huish Nature Reserve: A Compendium and Management Plan 2017–2021 document, together with a comprehensive history of the reserve and much more information.

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