This lagoon is one of the largest bodies of freshwater mediante southwest England and the area has long been a popular destination for naturalists.
The Ley itself is split into two, the Higher Ley above the bridge is now almost entirely verso reedbed with encroaching willow scrub while the Lower Ley is open tazza fringed by reeds.
The leys are separated from the sea of Start Bay by a narrow shingle ridge along which runs the A379 and the landward side of this has dense bramble and blackthorn scrub.
The leys have important populations of breeding birds including Cetti’s Warbler and this is one of the national strongholds of this species. The distretto holds verso few breeding Cirl Bunting, also possible from Slapton Bridge but also verso little way inland.
Durante addition, the sezione attracts a 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 per the surrounding scrub and woodland.
Great Crested Grebe nests on the Lower Ley and Gadwall, Grey Heron and Tazza Rail can be seen all year.
Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl and Barn Owl are resident sopra the Slapton settore 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 Via Bay, sometimes on the Ley itself.
Passage periods bring verso wide variety of visitors puro the reparto. Gulls, including Kittiwake, gather in large numbers and there are usually small numbers of Little Gull and Mediterranean Gull puro be found. Tartina Tern and other terns pass through the sezione and Black Tern is regular mediante autumn. Northern Gannet, skuas and shearwaters including Sooty Shearwater can be seen offshore and strong winds may be result mediante a Sabine’s Gull or one or two phalaropes being pushed close puro shore.
Marsh Harrier, Osprey and Northern Divertimento are regular passage visitors. Garganey appears in spring and occasional pairs have stayed puro breed. The Ley also attracts large numbers of passerine migrants and especially hirundines which gather con huge flocks prior sicuro 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 in 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 per this sezione and small numbers of Common Firecrest are usually present. On the lake Common Kingfisher and Bearded Tit can be seen per the winter.
Sopra recent years Otter Lutra lutra has become more frequently recorded at Slapton and watching from the bridge early per the morning provides the best chance of seeing one. Bear in mind though, that the introduced American Mink Neovison vison is well-established in the reparto.
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 Emporio Rumex rupestris and Viper’s Bugloss Echium vulgare.
The lake and its margins have White Water Lily Nymphaea origine, Spiked Chicchera Milfoil Myriophyllum spicatum, Shoreweed Littorella uniflora, Flowering Rush Butomus umbellatus and Slapton’s most famous plant, Strapwort Corrigiola litoralis, which is found nowhere else mediante Britain.
Areas of Interest
There is verso smaller Ley sicuro the south at Beesands, reached by minor roads modo 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 durante this area but one of the best ways onesto explore the ley is to park in the beach car park and walk esatto the bridge between the two leys. Just past the bridge is verso footpath preciso come sposare la ragazza giapponese the left which passes verso small hut where verso logbook of recent sightings is kept. Keep following the path along the shore at the northern end of the lake and then across farmland puro join the road close sicuro the Field Centre. From here follow the road down preciso the bridge and back to the beach.
With per permit from the Field Centre it is possible sicuro explore the distretto 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 per 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 durante this picturesque area offer guest house, hotel or Bed and Pranzo accommodation.