Exe Estuary waterbird refuge zones deemed a success


A scheme set up five years ago to give wintering waterbirds protection along the Exe Estuary is proving to be a success, according to conservationists.

There are two refuge zones on the estuary – a seasonal area near Exmouth that operates between September and December, and another at Dawlish Warren that operates year-round. During these times, water users are asked to avoid entering the areas.

The Exe Estuary is internationally important for various waterbirds, including Eurasian Wigeon (Harriet Day).

"The two refuge areas at Exmouth and Dawlish Warren make a significant contribution to supporting this number of birds. The sand spits and beach areas at Dawlish Warren offer safe roosting sites at high tide for waders to rest on while their feeding areas are covered," said David Price, a volunteer with the BTO. "Protection for these two areas is therefore an important element of conserving a significant proportion of the Exe Estuary's birdlife."

The wildlife refuges have been operating since 2018 and are marked with yellow buoys. A survey in 2021 showed that they were having positive results.

The estuary in Devon is internationally important as a feeding and roosting habitat for wintering waterbirds, including large numbers of Brent Goose, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon and Common Goldeneye and a selection of wader species.