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Wildlife in Bude Marshes

This page provides information about the habitats in Bude Marshes and our wildlife surveying.

Important Habitats and Species

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Reed Beds

The main habitat feature of the reserve is the reed bed , reed marsh is a particularly restricted habitat in Cornwall and Bude Marshes is the fourth largest area of reed in the county. This important area of reed provides valuable habitat for wintering migrant and breeding birds. 

Migrant birds have included bittern, glossy ibis, Baillons crake, night heron, and gargany duck, as well as the more regular sandpipers, warblers, etc. The area is also important in summer when there are breeding sedge and reed warbler, moorhen, willow warbler, reed bunting and mallard.

Neutral Grassland

There is a large area of neutral grassland with a damper area near the pond dipping platform. This area has developed on waste ground and is moderately herb rich with two species of orchid, which are monitored annually.  The grassland is cut in September to allow wildflower seed to drop, and to ensure the orchids have had a chance to seed. This area is particularly good for invertebrates and is often used for children's bug hunts.


Six Cornwall Scarce species have been recorded within the Bude Marshes Local Nature Reserve . (A Cornwall Scarce species is a species found in four to ten sites in Cornwall )These are-   

  • Trifid Bur-marigold - Bidens tripartita
  • Grass Vetchling - Lathyrus nissolia
  • Bee Orchid - Ophrys apifera
  • Beaked Tasselweed - Ruppia maritima
  • Pink Water-speedwell - Veronica catenata
  • Horned Pondweed - Zannichellia palustris
  • Plant Surveys
  • Bee orchid counts

Each year a group of volunteers at Bude Marshes monitor the orchids found on the dry grassland behind the tourist information centre. The orchids were first recorded in 2002 but there has only been periodic records of numbers .

Year Total Number of Bee orchid flower spikes Number of Marsh Orchids
2002 12 Not Counted
2007 70 Not Counted
2008 103 Not Counted
2009 58 Not Counted
2010 30 137
2011 30-35 Not Counted


Fish Surveys

At the request of Cornwall Council, the Environment Agency surveyed the fish populations of three lakes in the Bude Marshes. Information gathered will help the Council manage pond habitats and fish populations to maximise the wildlife value of the ponds


Pond 1. Tourist Information Pond (NGR SS 2081305981)

Method: Timed electric fishing survey by boat

Species caughtNumber caughtLength range (mm)
Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) 3 62, 64, 136
Roach (Rutilus rutilus) 1 118
European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) 10 140mm to 310mm
Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius) 11 57mm to 220mm

Pond 2. Bird Hide Pond (NGR SS 2081505743)

Method: Timed electric fishing survey by boat.

Species caughtNumber caughtLength range (mm)
Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus) 16 22 mm to 119mm
Roach (Rutilus rutilus) 45 59mm to 163mm
European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) 2 269 and 270mm
Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius) 35 58mm to 186mm,
Three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) 3 37, 49, 52
Tench (Tinca tinca) 9 54mm to 176mm