River Otter Estuary Nature Reserve

With over 120 species of bird recorded on the site, the River Otter Estuary Nature Reserve is the perfect place for bird watching. The estuary covers around 33 hectares and is a designated site of Special Scientific Interest. The site sits next to the town of Budleigh Salterton and is home to one of the most popular walking routes in the region.

The wildlife

The Otter Estuary has an intertidal habitat of mudflats and saltmarshes, making it an ideal home for a number of fish, birds and other marine life. If you have a keen eye, you can often spot things such as mud shrimps and a host of wading birds like the Ringed Plover, Curlew, Black tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Brent Goose. Occasionally, you’ll find rarer birds including avocet and glossy ibis. Whatever time of year you visit, you’ll spot something new depending on the birds migratory habits, so every trip is a unique experience.

As well as birds, the estuary is a great place for spotting otters and is home to England’s first population of native wild beavers.

Budleigh’s beavers

The River Otter is home to one of the most exciting conservation initiatives in England – the reintroduction of native beavers. Beavers were initially hunted to extinction in England, partly because of the meat and fur industry but also because they provided a valued scent to perfumers. Around ten years ago, beavers reappeared on the River Otter and now there is a happy and healthy colony of beavers living at the estuary.

Follow the beaver trail here.

Otters of the River Otter

The river clearly has an apt name as it is one of the many waterways through Devon that otters call home. The River Otter goes through Budleigh Salterton and forms part of the Estuary nature reserve. Devon has always been known as being a real haven for otters, so if you’re quiet, you might spot a couple while exploring!

Enjoy the Estuary responsibly

The River Otter Estuary is looked after by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust and it is important that we look after it so that we can continue to enjoy it.

While visiting, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Be considerate of other users, make way when paths are narrow and be quiet and respectful when exploring
  • Take all your litter with you
  • Do not approach any wildlife
  • Keep dogs under control, especially around other people and wildlife
  • Always bag and bin dog waste
  • Cycling is not permitted
  • Watersports are only for the beach, not the estuary to protect wildlife, so please launch any boards or paddles from the beach.
  • Only use the designated areas for BBQs and picnics

The River Otter Estuary falls within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and links up with the South West Coast Path and there are a variety of circular walks around the lower end of the estuary. You can find car parking available at Lime Kiln car park.

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