SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Exe Estuary

image: SPA location map 


The Exe Estuary is located in Devon on the English south coast. The site extends 10 km south from Exeter to the open sea at Dawlish Warren. It comprises the waters, foreshore, low-lying land, three saltmarshes and an unusual double spit across the mouth of the estuary, and the sand dunes of Dawlish Warren. The mud- and sand-flats support Eelgrass Zostera spp. and Enteromorpha beds, and contain an abundance of invertebrates including extensive Mussel Mytilus edulis beds, which together provide rich feeding habitats for wintering waders and wildfowl. This complex of coastal habitats supports internationally important numbers of wintering and passage waterbirds. 


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section


This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
Over winter;
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, 359 individuals representing at least 28.3% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus, 20 individuals representing at least 5.0% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1984/85-1988/9)
Assemblage qualification: A wetland of international importance.
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 waterfowl
Over winter, the area regularly supports 23,513 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Wigeon Anas penelope, Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus.



Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.