(a) Arrive on the 3 Ilfracombe-Barnstaple bus. The bus stop is between the Banbury's Garden
Centre and the start of the dual-carriage way. (The Garden Centre has a nice cafe but it can be busy if you arrive at
lunchtime during tourist season, Bank Holiday weekend etc.) Access across this road has been improved recently and there is
also a nice cycle path down to the Tarka Trail. [Alternatively get of the bus at Chivenor and join the Tarka Trail there,
it's just across the road from the bus stop].
The area the estuary here is a nice mixture of mud and pebbles. The Taw estuary is mainly sandy, so this area attracts a bit
more diversity. Dabchick, Cormorant, Little Egret,
Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Shelduck,
Mallard, Wigeon, Red-breasted Merganser,
Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Dunlin, Little Stint,
Redshank, Greenshank, and Curlew can all be seen here.
(b) Sewage Works. Here, one afternoon in winter, I saw 7 Grey Herons,
16 Little Egrets, and a Spoonbill. Another day there was a
Ruddy Shelduck, with the usual Shelduck.
(c) This is another good spot. A small stream joins the estuary here. On the landward side of the embankment there
are a few small pools that shetler Teal. The estuary side is favoured by
Black-tailed Godwit in the winter.
(d) Pottington. The salt marsh here, like Penhill Marsh is another place where the
Little Egrets like to hide in the channels. In a hard winter Bewicks will join
Mute Swans grazing here.
(e) You occassional see some locally rare birds at the confluence of the Taw and Yeo. I've seen Dabchick, Gadwall,
Goosander, Bar-tailed Godwit, and Kingfisher here. It's also one of the better spots for
Black-tailed Godwit. If I have some spare time while I'm in Barnstaple, I try to get down here
for half an hour to see what's around.
(f) I find that's it's better to walk from Ashford to Barnstaple that the other way round. With the
3 Ilfracombe-Barnstaple service operating only every half hour, it's better to wait in Barnstaple
(where it's not too cold and there's a nice second-hand bookshop) than at Ashford bus stop (where it can get be windy and
you are never sure if the bus will be on time).