Notoriously skulking, this species is most easily seen from Slapton Bridge at dawn

Notoriously skulking, this species is most easily seen from Slapton Bridge at dawn

This lagoon is one of the largest bodies of freshwater mediante southwest England and the reparto has long been verso popular destination for naturalists.

The Ley itself is split into two, the Higher Ley above the bridge is now almost entirely a reedbed with encroaching willow scrub while the Lower Ley is open vaso fringed by reeds.

The leys are separated from the sea of Via Bay by verso narrow shingle ridge along which runs the A379 and the landward side of this has dense bramble and blackthorn scrub.

Notable Species

The leys have important populations of breeding birds including Cetti’s Warbler and this is one of the national strongholds of this species. The sezione Visita il sito web holds a few breeding Cirl Bunting, also possible from Slapton Bridge but also verso little way inland.

Durante addenda, the settore attracts verso wide range of passage birds and wintering waterfowl sopra some numbers. More than 230 species have been recorded.

As well as Cetti’s Warbler the reedbeds have good populations of Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler, and Grasshopper Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff and other warblers breed in the surrounding scrub and woodland.

Great Crested Grebe nests on the Lower Ley and Gadwall, Grey Heron and Water Rail can be seen all year.

Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl and Barn Owl are resident sopra the Slapton dipartimento and can be seen around the Ley.

The cliffs nearby have breeding Northern Fulmar, Shag, Great Cormorant and Great Black-backed Gull and these species can often be seen sopra Start Bay, sometimes on the Ley itself.

Passage periods bring per wide variety of visitors preciso the sezione. Gulls, including Kittiwake, gather sopra large numbers and there are usually small numbers of Little Gull and Mediterranean Gull puro be found. Sandwich Tern and other terns pass through the settore and Black Tern is regular in autumn. Northern Gannet, skuas and shearwaters including Sooty Shearwater can be seen offshore and strong winds may be result per a Sabine’s Gull or one or two phalaropes being pushed close esatto shore.

Marsh Harrier, Osprey and Northern Diletto are regular passage visitors. Garganey appears durante spring and occasional pairs have stayed sicuro breed. The Ley also attracts large numbers of passerine migrants and especially hirundines which gather con huge flocks prior preciso migration.

Winter sees the arrival of ducks, particularly Tufted Duck and Common Pochard but also Common Goldeneye, one or two Long-tailed Duck often visit the lake and various seaducks appear offshore. Ruddy Duck has begun to appear more often sopra winter and small numbers of dabbling duck occur.

Grebes occur on passage and con winter and can include Slavonian Grebe and Black-necked Grebe and divers of all three species are regular offshore, sometimes occurring on the lake after storms. One or two Bittern turn up most winters and extended spring stays con recent years have led preciso hopes of breeding.

Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff are regular wintering birds mediante this distretto and small numbers of Common Firecrest are usually present. On the lake Common Kingfisher and Bearded Tit can be seen per the winter.

Other Wildlife

Durante recent years Otter Lutra lutra has become more frequently recorded at Slapton and watching from the bridge early con the morning provides the best chance of seeing one. Bear con mind though, that the introduced American Mink Neovison vison is well-established mediante the sezione.

The insects of Slapton Ley have been well-studied and dragonflies and damselflies are particularly well-represented. Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta and Hairy Dragonfly Brachytryon pratense can be found as well as Downy Emerald Cordulia aenea and Southern Damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale. Jersey Tiger Moth is another local speciality.

Botanists can find much of interest on the shingle ridge between the sea and the freshwater with species such as Sea Radish Raphanus raphanistrum maritimus, Ray’s Knotgrass Polygonum oxyspermum, Yellow Horned Poppy Glaucium flavum, Shore Dock Rumex rupestris and Viper’s Bugloss Echium vulgare.

The lake and its margins have White Water Lily Nymphaea inizio, Spiked Scodella Milfoil Myriophyllum spicatum, Shoreweed Littorella uniflora, Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus and Slapton’s most famous plant, Strapwort Corrigiola litoralis, which is found nowhere else per Britain.

Areas of Interest

There is a smaller Ley onesto the south at Beesands, reached by minor roads via Stokenham, which is often worth viewing but more importantly, the small valley here may still hold Cirl Bunting, now one of Britain’s most threatened breeding birds.

Access and Facilities

There are several excellent spots con this area but one of the best ways to explore the ley is preciso park durante the beach car park and walk sicuro the bridge between the two leys. Just past the bridge is verso footpath puro the left which passes a small hut where per logbook of recent sightings is kept. Keep following the path along the shore at the northern end of the lake and then across farmland sicuro join the road close sicuro the Field Centre. From here follow the road down puro the bridge and back onesto the beach.

With a permit from the Field Centre it is possible preciso explore the sezione more fully, notably along the back of both the Higher and Lower Leys and adjoining woodlands. There are hides at the southern end of the Lower Ley, one at Torcross and another on the opposite bank reached from the A379.

Slapton village has verso campsite and there is verso carrozzone site at Beesands just south of Torcross at the southern end of the Lower Ley. Alternatively, most of the towns and villages con this picturesque area offer guest house, albergo or Bed and Colazione accommodation.

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