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Location United Kingdom, South West
Central coordinates 3o 26.58' West  50o 38.68' North
IBA criteria A4iii, B1i, B2, C3, C4, C6
Area 2,586 ha
Altitude 0 - 2m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Site description A complex of habitats, extending over 10 km south from Exeter to the open sea at Dawlish Warren. Broad intertidal flats and grazing-marshes are the dominant habitats. Extensive mussel, eel-grass Zostera and algal beds and a sand-spit further increase the habitat diversity. The site is important for wintering and passage wildfowl and waders, and for breeding Cettia cetti.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus winter  2001-2006  6 individuals  good  C6  Vulnerable 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  2001-2006  360-423 individuals  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2000-2006  970 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  2001-2006  370 individuals  good  C6  Near Threatened 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2001-2006  20,341 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   

IBA Monitoring

2007 medium very unfavourable medium
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - unspecified species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of ground water (agricultural use) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Podiceps auritus Horned Grebe 20 6 individuals 30 very unfavourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 360 423 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 585 970 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit 430 370 individuals 87 near favourable
Calidris alpina Dunlin 6150 4548 individuals 74 near favourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 23216 20341 individuals 88 near favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve 154 protected area contained by site 162  
Dawlish Warren Site of Special Scientific Interest 182 protected area contained by site 239  
Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site 2,550 protected area is adjacent to site 0  
Exe Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest 2,190 protected area contains site 2,136  
Exe Estuary Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 2,346 protected area contained by site 2,346  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Humid grasslands  7%
Wetlands (inland) Mud flats and sand flats; Rivers and streams; Salt marshes; Sand dunes and beaches; Tidal rivers and enclosed tidal waters; Water fringe vegetation  93%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
tourism/recreation -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Exe Estuary. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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