The River Otter is a great place for observing wildlife with a fantastic network of paths giving great access to its lower reaches.
The Otter Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) with its intertidal habitat of mudflats and saltmarsh acting as an important nursery ground for many species of fish including goby, grey mullet and bass.
The mud-rich environment is home to an abundance of marine invertebrates including ragworm, furrow shells and mud shrimps. These in turn attract wading birds who come to feast at these rich inter-tidal feeding grounds. Waders that can often be seen include Ringed Plover, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Brent Goose. Rarer species include white-fronted geese, glossy ibis and avocet. The Lower Otter Restoration Project will significantly increase the size of the current inter-tidal area and in the coming years it is expected that the lower Otter valley will become one of the best sites in the south west to view wading birds, particular during the winter months.
The River Otter is highly dynamic watercourse and constantly changing its form. After heavy rainfall the agricultural floodplain is frequently inundated with flood water making sections of the riverside footpath temporary impassable in places, till the water recedes.
The river has a healthy population of otters and is also the home to England’s first population of native wild-living beavers. Bullhead and eels reside in the waters where the river gravels (redds) providing good spawning ground for trout. The sides of the river are often fringed with willow and alder. Around the low-lying fields grow blackthorn hedgerows with trees, bramble and scrub. The field edges and grazing marsh support bats, harvest mice, dormice and array of birds. Cetti’s warbler is a well-known occupant of the lower valley. whilst dippers and kingfishers are both common bird sightings. One dragonfly species that is often seen associated with the river is the beautiful demoiselle.