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Nature Reserve

Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

This is a 150 acre nature reserve on the edge of the Severn Estuary between Portishead and Royal Portbury Dock.  It was in 2008 that Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve was first conceived to offset the impact of building 2500 new houses in Portishead.


Who owns the reserve?

The nature reserve is owned by Persimmon Homes and managed by  North Somerset Council. However the Council plans to take ownership of the reserve in the long term.


Why is it so important?

Nestled between housing on one side and industry on the other it is a crucial green buffer. It gives people access to green spaces and provides a vital haven for wildlife.

It is also a safe route for wildlife moving between the Severn Estuary and the important reserves of the Gordano Valley.

Some of the species here are of great conservation concern as nationally numbers are falling. So it is important to safeguard and encourage these species.  We can help through careful land management but also by allowing wildlife to feed and rest undisturbed.

Aerial view of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve
Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve is to the left and centre next to the housing. Royal Portbury Dock is on the right.


Why is the reserve so attractive to wildlife?

It is the ponds and wet ditches that make this reserve so varied. They attract wildfowl and are home to water voles, great crested newts, dragonflies and more.  The rough pastures are perfect hunting grounds for owls and birds of prey.  The hedgerows and scrubby woodland provide food and nesting sites for birds and mammals. The wildflower meadow is a haven for butterflies and other insects.

A salt marsh lies next to the nature reserve. Although not part of the nature reserve, it is a place where birds and mammals feed and rest. So it is very important both for the wildlife and for the success of the reserve. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). You can read more about it on our Portbury Wharf Salt Marsh page.

These varied habitats makes this a species rich area. Spoonbills, bitterns and other rarities have even been recorded here from time to time.

To see more about the wildlife go Wildlife.


Why is the reserve so attractive to people?

If you are a wildlife lover, the answer is obvious. You can watch wildlife from the relative comfort of the 3 wooden hides overlook the larger ponds. One of these, the Tower Hide also has terrific views across the Severn Estuary to the Welsh hills.

As the paths are flat and easy to walk, jog or cycle along, it is enormously popular and family-friendly. It is free and open to people 24/7. Green areas like this are beneficial in many ways, not least to our health and well being. So it is a great amenity,  especially for those lucky enough to live on its doorstep.

To see a map and visitor stuff go Visitor Info.