Wildlife refuges on the Exe estuary are helping to minimise disturbance and attract birds, according to the results of a new survey.
Councillor Susie Bond, chairperson of the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Executive Committee, said: “I would like to say thank you very much to all the groups and users of the Exe estuary who have supported this initiative. Without their support, it’s unlikely that signs would be so positive. We hope they will continue to help people voluntarily avoid the wildlife refuges.
“A high number of birds, including protected species, have been recorded within the wildlife refuges which shows they are correctly located.
“A few incursions into the wildlife refuges were recorded and these did cause a high level of disturbance. However, it’s very early days and too early to draw solid conclusions about the success of the wildlife refuges.”
Footprint Ecology is contracted to carry out surveys over three years at various locations around the Exe estuary. Monitoring bird behaviour and disturbance, the surveys are designed to show the effects of people and their activities on this important wildlife habitat.
In September 2018, two new areas to protect wildlife were carefully selected and introduced at key locations on the Exe estuary. Known as wildlife refuges, the areas protect important bird feeding and resting areas on this vital, environmental conservation site.
The wildlife refuge areas were agreed by a partnership of the three councils.
At Exmouth Local Nature Reserve, the area is set aside for wildlife between September 15 and December 31.
Monitoring of the wildlife refuges will continue and will be reported annually.
Additional monitoring is taking place on East Devon’s Pebblebed Heaths to record path erosion and prioritise repairs, protecting important habitat.