Birdwatching around Budleigh Salterton


Heron pictured on the River Otter, near Budleigh SaltertonMost parts of rural Devon have good resident bird populations, this area of East Devon has the extra advantage of summer visitors , such as nightjars, wheatears and warblers, followed by over wintering flocks of waders, ducks and geese on the estuaries of the rivers Exe, Otter and Axe.

Peregrine falcon on cliffs at OtterheadThe distinctly different habitats of estuary, field, woodland and heathland offer the keen birdwatcher many opportunities to enjoy a visit to the area.

There is so much to see, but here is a ‘taster’ of what is on offer:-

– Peregrine falcons on the cliffs (left)
– Kittiwakes at Straight Point
– Herons and egrets on the estuary
– Dartford warblers on the heaths
– Buzzards everywhere
– Fieldfares and redwings in winter
– Nightjars
– Occasional visitors like Glossy Ibis on the estuary
– Hobbies taking dragonflies on the heaths.


KingfisherSome of the heath areas have significant populations of butterflies and dragonflies. With 38 recorded species of butterfly, Aylesbeare R.S.P.B. Reserve has more than any other reserve in the U.K. For more details of the reserve at Aylesbeare, click here.

The extensive areas of unique heathland are now protected from further exploitation, by the work of organisations such as the R.S.P.B., Clinton Devon Estates and the Heritage Lottery Fund. A very popular event each August is East Devon Heath Week, which is a comprehensive programme of talks, walks, displays and hands on events like willow weaving, clay modelling and sculpture using heathland materials.

Little egrets are sometimes found on the estuary south of Otterton, along with shelduck, which breed in small numbers.  The meadows adjoining the lower reaches of the River Otter provide nest sites for lapwings, while curlew and other wader  species breed on the wet heaths and moors of East Devon and the Blackdowns.

The Otter is especially important for kingfishers, with breeding being recorded along the whole length and Sand Martins which nest in the riverbanks.  Grey wagtails and dippers are also abundant.

Birds can be seen all year around.  These include Cormorants, Oystercatchers and terns to name a few.

In recent years Budleigh Salterton has seen quite  a few rare birds including Iceland, Glaucous and American herring gulls.

The staff of the Budleigh Salterton Tourist Information Centre are here to help you find out more – click here for details.