Within the 600 acres (or 250 hectares) of reserve lay salt marsh, grasslands and sand dunes. This mix of land and the fact that the vast majority of it is untouched, means that it acts as a haven for a variety of wildlife and birds.
Northam Burrows Visitors Centre
The park is open all the year around, and for anyone visiting for the first time, a trip to the Burrows Visitor centre which is open between May and September would be an informative first stop. It provides invaluable information on the background history and layout of the reserve, as well as listing which birds and animals have been spotted in the area recently. The opening times for the Burrows Centre are from 11.a.m to 5.p.m. The toilets are available from 9.30 a.m. to 5.p.m from Easter to the end of September. More information on the Northam Burrows Visitor Centre
Northam Burrows Country Park has several different terrain types, and one of these is the Dunes section. Dunes are formed by wind blowing sand to the top of a beach, where it accumulates over time. It is easily recognisable by the tufts of grass that grow sporadically out from it, and it almost acts as a transition between the beach and the grassy interior. On closer inspection, far more grows in this section than just grass, though, and ground nesting birds such as skylarks make their home here. Another animal that makes its home amongst the dunes is the rabbit, and their burrows can be easily found. Yes, this is where the ‘Burrows’ in Northam Burrows comes from!
The Grassland area makes up just over half of the Park’s area, and it is not unusual to see horses and sheep grazing here. The fact that it has never been suitable for agricultural use has meant that many wild species of flower and plant have been preserved here, and this in turn has attracted a variety of different bird species. Anyone interested in ornithology will be able to spot Pied Wagtail’s, Linnets and Stonechats, amongst others.
The final terrain type is defined as a salt marsh. Most notable for its water pools and gulleys, mudflats and green algae, it is rich in wildlife but not a place to walk! Looking through a pair of binoculars from the side of the road is the best way to see the many sorts of wading birds which inhabit the area.
Northam Burrows is an important ecological area in not only North Devon, but England as a whole, and no holiday in Westward Ho! or Appledore would be complete without spending some time there.