Wikipedia The estuary is a Special Protection Area and SSSI. It is also a Ramsar site.
The Exe Estuary is a site of international importance for wading birds, which feed on the estuary mudflats at low tide, and roost at high tide at the adjacent Dawlish Warren SSSI and Bowling Green Marsh. The RSPB has two nature reserves adjoining the estuary, at Bowling Green Marsh and Exminster Marshes.
Over 10,000 wildfowl and 20,000 waders winter on the estuary. These include dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla), Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope), ringed plover (Charadius hiaticula), black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), and pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta).
The Exminster Marshes, a series of fields drained by dykes and ditches, carry several plants rare in Devon including parsley, water dropwort (Oenanthe lachenalii), flowering rush Butomus umbellatus and frogbit Hydrocharis morsus-ranae. Dragonflies are also supported, such as the ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) and hairy dragonfly (Brachytron pratense).
The marshes are bounded by the Exeter Canal. Both are fringed by beds of common reed Phragmites australis, providing important habitat for Old World warblers.
Burrowing invertebrates are found in the sandbanks and mudflats. These include lugworm (Arenicola marina), peppery furrow shell (Scrobicularia plana), tellins Macoma spp., common cockle (Cerastoderma edule), pod razor (Ensis siliqua), sea potato (Echinocardium cordatum), and masked crab (Corystes cassivelaunus). Beds of blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) are food for Eurasian oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus). The estuary is the only British location for the polychaete worm Ophelia bicornia.
Exe Estuary. 11/03/92; England; 2,346 ha; 50°39'N 003°27'W. Special Protection Area EC Directive; SSSI, Local Nature Reserve. The estuary includes shallow offshore waters, extensive mud and sand flats, saltmarsh, a complex of marshes and damp pasture, and an extensive dune system. The area is important for internationally important numbers of several species of wintering and passage waterbirds and functions as a refuge during severe weather. Ramsar site no. 542. Most recent RIS information: 1999.
The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
The convention entered into force in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 5 May 1976.
The United Kingdom currently has 175 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1,283,040 hectares.