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The Otter Estuary becomes a National Nature Reserve

  • by JW

The Lower Otter wetland joins the Pebblebed Heaths

The Lower Otter Restoration Project has been a fascinating project:

The Lower Otter Estuary is a very special place. It is home to local people and businesses. It provides habitat for a wide variety of breeding and wintering bird species, and it is enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors each year… The Lower Otter Restoration Project is working with local people and partner organisations to adapt and enhance the downstream part of the River Otter, its estuary, and its immediate surroundings for future generations in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

With a fabulous Otter Estuary Interactive Map available for a closer look – until you can get down to the site itself – as shown on the website of the Pebblebed Heaths National Nature Reserve

The news just in is that the two will be joined together.

This is from the Pebble Heaths’ latest newsletter:

Otter Estuary wetland joins Pebblebed Heaths to extend the National Nature Reserve!
February brings important news for this newest of wetlands. Look out for the notice from Natural England, who will announce that the Otter Estuary has been declared a National Nature Reserve (NNR), becoming an extension of the Pebblebed Heath NNR. The existing Pebblebed Heaths NNR was declared in 2020 and is managed on behalf of Clinton Devon Estates by their conservation charity the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust (PHCT) in partnership with the RSPB and Devon Wildlife Trust.  
National Nature Reserves are the crown jewels of England`s natural heritage. The ‘King’s Series of National Nature Reserves’, will see five major National Nature Reserves named every year for the next five years – 25 in total. The Otter Estuary is the latest in the ‘King’s Series’ celebrating the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and leaving a lasting public legacy for people and nature. The Pebblebed Heath Conservation Trust are excited and proud that the Otter Estuary has been awarded this honour now. It joins the most important sites nationally and we are trusted to manage these sites and uphold the national nature reserve vision to see England’s nature restored, enriched and reconnected to people. Likewise, World Wetland Day calls each of us to recognise the value of wetlands and to ensure that they are stewarded responsibly so their benefits are retained for today’s needs and those of the future. At the Otter Estuary Reserve this month, we’ll be celebrating both the NNR extension and mark World Wetland Day on site. We’ll launch a self-led trail, in time for half-term, but suitable for anyone who’d like to know the reserve better and understand the benefits wetlands deliver. If you are on site this month, let us know what you are enjoying and if the wetland support your wellbeing.

Tidal inundation allows transition to mudflat and saltmarsh The reintroduction of tidal flows is allowing the habitat to adjust and develop, with the machine cut channels through the low-lying fields transitioning to mudflat and saltmarsh. A range of visiting bird species are making use of the increased area to feed already. The appearance of each new species or familiar birds in larger numbers delights wildlife watchers and many visitors are making use of the routes through the reserve, including those who may have found access challenging before.

Join us to celebrate.
The 2021 designation of the Pebblebed Heath NNR took place during the pandemic restrictions and there was no public event. Therefore we want to take this opportunity to engage and involve the local community in this event to mark this latest announcement. Please drop-in to Lime Kiln car park on Friday 16 between 1130-1600 or either of the smaller pop-up events planned for the afternoons of Saturday 17/Sunday 18 between 1300-1600. Explore the Estuary…and win a prize! We’ve created a new activity for visitors just in time for half-term. Suitable for all ages, our fact finding quiz is available to download here, or pick up at one of our events next week. Give any completed answer sheet back to one of the PHCT team on site Fri/Sat/Sun (or alternatively to Budleigh Information Centre/East Budleigh Shop) by Monday 19 Feb for the chance to win a wetland themed prize! Download our Explore the Estuary Trail…

Ranger, Rick Lockwood  joined the PHCT last April and is responsible for the Otter Estuary reserve and oversees the site day-to-day, monitors birds and other wildlife and talking with visitors.
Rick’s has enjoyed a busy winter season leading guided walks and watching both the birds the inter-tidal habitats develop. Look out for him on-site over the coming months and read his monthly sighting summaries, which he shares on the Estuary noticeboards. W

The Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust manage the core area of the Pebblebed Heaths, plus Mutter’s Moor and the Otter Estuary for the landowner Clinton Devon Estates. Whatever your interest we have a number of ways of getting involved to enhance your enjoyment. We host events and provide volunteering opportunities for those who like to be hands-on or give something back practically. Our ‘Friends’ have always been a vital part of the Trust’s work, making valuable contributions and helping shape our future.