Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve
The Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve was created to conserve wildlife and provide flood management when a new business park and road were built.
It is home to a wide variety of birds, insects, plants and amphibians including the internationally protected Great Crested Newt.
What you will find
Most of the reserve is grazed by cattle from April to October with some fields rested each year to encourage wildlife. Other areas are used to store floodwater and landscaped mounds are planted with native trees, shrubs and wildflowers to attract wildlife.
In spring and summer the air is alive with the song of skylarks. More than a hundred types of bird have been recorded. The flood storage areas are only intended to fill up during heavy rain but recently have been very dry during the summer. In winter, they are a good place to watch seabirds.
A bird watching screen overlooks a permanently wet area and provides good views of wildfowl such as teal, moorhen, shelduck and mallard. Please take care to avoid disturbing the birds by keeping quiet near the screen.
You can also see wooden sculptures by Steve Geliot, installed as part of Public Art in the South East.
The Ouse estuary was formed thousands of years ago by the meandering of the River Ouse between the chalk downs near Newhaven and Seaford.
The land is shingle and mud and was drained for farming in medieval times. However, the land remained wet and, despite being intensively farmed, supported a rich variety of wildlife. The site was designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance in 1993.
Access to the Nature Reserve
There are two public footpaths crossing the reserve and a new cycle track which goes all the way to Seaford. The cycle track is part of National Cycle Route 2.
Routes are level and suitable for both adults and children. The cycle track and the footpath to the bird watching screen are surfaced and are suitable for electric buggies and wheelchairs.
The other footpath is not surfaced and is not a dedicated cycle track, but you may cycle along it (within the reserve) in dry weather. Please do not cycle along it when the ground is soft as your tyres may damage the surface.
How to get here
The Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve is located between Newhaven and Seaford, near the A259.
The site can be easily accessed on foot or bike from Newhaven or Seaford. Both towns are served by regular train and bus services. You can also catch a bus to Denton Corner – numbers 12, 13, 145. For links to timetables, see our pages on public transport.
There is a car park 400 metres south of the reserve on the A259. This car park is also convenient for the Tide Mills ruins and the beach.
Management of the Nature Reserve
Part of the site was reserved for business use but because of the wildlife value, environmental protection was required before it was developed. The result was the Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve, managed by the County Council but funded by the developers and national and European grants. The land is now owned by the County Council and managed as a nature reserve by our Rights of Way & Countryside team.
For problems with livestock please contact the grazier, Paul Collinson,
- Telephone: 0779 860 7907
- Email: Countryside Maintenance Team
- Map: Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve
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