Exe Estuary SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

This site is on the English south coast, it extends 10 km south from Exeter to the open sea at Dawlish Warren. The mud- and sand-flats here support Eelgrass beds and mussel beds, which together provide rich feeding habitats for wintering waders and wildfowl.  The site supports internationally important numbers of wintering and passage waterbirds.

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 March 1992

Surface Area

23.68 km2 (9.14 mi.2)

Perimeter

43.11 km (26.79 mi.)

  • Waterfowl assemblage

    Important areas where a number of waterfowl species occur in significant numbers.

  • Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

    A familiar, stocky, black and white wading bird that mostly depends on mussels and cockles.

  • Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

    The commonest small wading bird found around UK shores with a distinctive black belly in the summer.

  • Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica)

    A large wading bird with a very distinctive long beak.

  • Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

    A widely distributed shorebird that prefers sandy and muddy estuaries.

  • Slavonian grebe (Podiceps auritus)

    Slavonian grebe is an migratory species seen in the seas around Scotland in the non-breeding season. A strong swimmer and diver that feeds mainly on fish and crustaceans.

  • Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)

    A small dark goose which occurs in good numbers at just a few sites in the UK. They are vegetarian and particularly partial to seagrass.

  • Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

    A distinctively-patterned black and white wading bird with a long up-curved beak. 

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

Did you know?…

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

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