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Isley Marsh
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Isley Marsh is made up of saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats on the southern edge of the Taw Torridge estuary and lies largely within the estuary SSSI. As it is mostly underwater at high tide, no management is carried out and no birds breed. However, it is an important haven in the busy estuary for undisturbed feeding and resting birds, especially the wintering flocks of ducks such as teal and waders including significant numbers of curlew, greenshank and dunlin. In recent years, numbers of little egret have increased and, in winter, it is often possible to see spoonbills. An active group of local volunteer wardens monitor the birds and try to keep disturbance to a minimum. Visitor access is restricted to public footpaths, largely outside the reserve itself, but allowing expansive views across the estuary and the surrounding farmland. There is no public parking within two miles, although the Tarka Trail runs along the south side of the reserve, allowing easy foot and cycle access along this former railway track.
Chapel Wood is a typical north Devon broadleaved woodland, sited on a steep hillside, crowned by an Iron-Age hill fort, with a stream running down either side. Management consists largely of the gradual removal on non-native species planted during the last century and their replacement with native trees. The wood takes its name from the remains of Spreacombe Chapel and well, a scheduled Ancient monument dating from 1270. The site was donated to the RSPB in 1951 and was the first reserve owned in south-west England. There are an impressive variety of birds, with occasional nesting pied flycatchers and ravens in recent years. Other regular nesting species include tawny owls, nuthatches, and great spotted and green woodpeckers. In winter, large flocks of thrushes use the surrounding fields and shelter in the wood. Spring brings a beautiful display of primroses and snowdrops on the margins of the rides, followed by a sea of bluebells on the higher areas. Red deer, badgers and brown hares are frequent visitors and dormice are resident.
Exe - The Exe Estuary nature reserve is two areas of coastal grazing marsh that are on opposite sides of the river, not far from the historic city of Exeter. One side of the estuary is Exminster Marshes and the other side is Bowling Green Marsh. In spring, you can see lapwings and redshanks and listen for rare Cetti's warblers. In winter, during floods or around high tide, there are thousands of waterbirds including black-tailed godwits and wigeons.
Aylesbeare - You can enjoy a walk along firm paths over quiet heathland here and have a chance of seeing Dartford warblers and stonechats in summer. The woodland fringes, streams and ponds abound with butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Stay late on a summer evening to see nightjars at dusk.

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Photos in this slide show have been taken by Pat Adams with contributions from Brett Adams (©Copyright 2021 all rights reserved)

Birdwatching. Life on the Torridge Estuary
A murmuration but they are not Starlings but Golden Plover swirling over the Northam Burrows Country Park

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