Reedbed Managemernt

Paul Swain undertaking reedbed managementThe River Otter Estuary along with the cliffs of Otterton Point is designated a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This key conservation site of 33 hectares is managed by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.  The primary reason for its SSSI designation is because the Otter estuary contains a wide range of saltmash and reedbeds which together support high numbers of breeding and overwintering bird species. Otterton Point is an important location for vertebrate palaeontology.

Reedbed is a very rare habitat nationally, and because of our hilly landscape, large areas are not common in Devon. The River Otter is an important site for birds and, although dwarfed by the Exe and the Axe, 125 species have been recorded on the site including a number of particular conservation interest including the whimbrel and black-tailed godwit. A juvenile Cetti’s warbler was ringed there early this year. Over the winter the reeds provide winter roosting for starlings, pied wagtails and long-tailed tits. .

Reed beds can benefit from being cut periodically to stop the build-up of dead organic matter at the base of the reeds which can lead to invasion by scrub. Ideally work needs to be done every 5-8 years depending on regrowth. You may have seen two sites, one below and one above White Bridge, which have been cleared of reeds and the material burned. We are very grateful to our volunteers including students from Bicton College who helped us with this important work.The work we have undertaken will encourage new growth and maintain the best habitat for birds such as reed and sedge warblers, reed buntings and water rail.


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