Description and Reasons for Notification:
Braunton Swanpool is important for its reedbed and herb-rich marshy grasslands, habitats which are rare in North Devon.
The site lies near sea-level in a shallow basin of old river terrace drift. The water table is at or near the surface for much of the year, with a general movement of water from north to south.
A large part of the site consists of reedbed dominated by common reed Phragmites australis with associated plants including fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica, common marsh bedstraw Gallium palustre and bullrush Typha latifolia. There is an area of willow carr and scattered willows Salix spp. occur throughout. Some of the meadows support beds of sedges with great pond sedge Carex riparia being particularly abundant together with marsh cinquefoil Potentilla palustris, ragged robin Lychnis flos-cuculi, marsh pennywort Hydrocotyle vulgaris, wild angelica Angelica sylvestris, purple-loosestrife Lythrum salicaria and the local parsley water-dropwort Oenanthe lachenalii. Of special note is the presence of marsh arrowgrass Triglochin palustris, a rare plant in Devon.
Other meadow supports a rich flora where meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, marsh marigold Caltha palustris, yellow-rattle Rhinanthus minor, marsh ragwort Senecio aquaticus and yellow iris Iris pseudacorus are more frequent. Also found here are such plants as water mint Mentha aquatica, southern marsh orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa, meadow vetchling Lathyrus pratensis and greater bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus pedunculatus.
A characteristic bird community is present, with reed and sedge warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and A. schoenobaenus, grasshopper warbler Locustella naevia and reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus breeding here regularly.