World Wetlands Day – James Chubb Q&A

In respect of World Wetlands Day on 2nd February 2019 we’ve spoken to James Chubb Countryside Team Leader at East Devon District Council about the fabulous Seaton Wetlands and all that it has to offer…

 What is your role on a day to day basis?

The role of Nature Reserve Manager alters massively from day to day; its my responsibility to ensure the site is safe and welcoming for human and animal visitors! Adjusting water levels to seasonally flood areas or dry them out, looking after livestock, and monitoring wild species are all part of the daily task list.

  1. What is Seaton Wetlands?

Seaton Wetlands is an area of saltmarsh and freshwater grazing marsh on the western bank of the Axe estuary near the town of Seaton.

  1. Why are the Wetlands important?

The wetlands are important breeding grounds for many rare animals, most notably birds, but mammals too. The mosaic of lagoons, ponds, reedbed grassland and traditionally-managed hedgerows are alive with biodiversity and bring wildlife and people together for the ultimate wild experience.

  1. What can you expect to see if you visit the Wetlands? What is the standout wildlife that you have seen there?

We’ve recently reintroduced water voles, so they  should be a prominent mammal to look out for in the summer months; otters are very active this winter so will possibly breed in the nature reserve this summer, the hedgerows are home to endangered dormice and harvest mice are found in the scruffy grass margins. Our rarest mammal is probably the grey long eared bat – only a handful of sites in the UK are known to have this amazing little animal! In bird terms the site is an important breeding area for shelduck, barn owls and kestrels breed in the valley and feed on the reserve and oystercatcher breed on the islands of Black Hole Marsh todal lagoon.

  1. Are there any guided walks and talks that take place? What do these involve?   

We have regular Meet the Birds mornings, where an experienced guide is in the hide to help visitors identify what they are looking at. We have a really busy events programme which runs throughout the year and includes canoe safaris and night time bat walks, all can be found at

  1. When is the best time of year to visit the Wetlands?

ANY TIME! There’s something to see in any month and each month is slightly different to the next!

  1. Do you encourage families with children to visit the Wetlands? Are there things for children to do/ learn?

Yes, the site is really popular with families as there are no vehicles and no dogs so it is really safe and secure. The cyclepath runs through the site and is a great place for little people to learn to ride bikes, its not all about the wildlife.

  1. How can people get involved to help protect and conserve the Wetlands?

We have a regular group of volunteers who grapple with practical tasks ever Tuesday, we’ve always keen to encourage more people to join in. Our Discovery Hut is open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday and is staffed by a loyal volunteer workforce. They extend a warm welcome to visitors, point out the daily interests, make refreshements and introduce people to our resident ‘pet’ harvest mice and estuary fish tank. Local companies donate staff time to help with conservation tasks too.

  1. How many Wetlands are in Devon?

Devon is rich in wetlands with all of the major river estuaries in the County having intertidal wetland features. However Seaton Wetlands is the largest purpose-built site for visitors and wildlife, and so I am honour bound to recommend people come here!

Seaton Wetlands has been nominated in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2019 in the ‘Best Nature Reserve’ category!

To vote for our fantastic nature reserve, click the following link:

The voting deadline is 17th February at 23:59pm.