Upper Solway Flats and Marshes SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

This site lies on the west coast on the border between England and Scotland. The flats and marshes of the Upper Solway form one of the largest continuous areas of intertidal habitat in Britain.  This is an important area for wintering wildfowl (ducks, geese and swans) and waders, and is a vital link in a chain of west coast UK estuaries used by migrating waterbirds. The site is home to virtually all of the Svalbard population of barnacle geese over the winter months. 

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 November 1992

Surface Area

437.10 km2 (168.77 mi.2)

Perimeter

187.97 km (116.80 mi.)

  • Ruddy turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

    A small shore bird whose name refers to its habit of creeping and fluttering over rocks, picking out food from under stones.

  • Sanderling (Calidris alba)

    A a small, plump, energetic wading bird.

  • Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

    A long-billed, long-legged wading bird that visits the UK in the winter.

  • Waterfowl assemblage

    Important areas where a number of waterfowl species occur in significant numbers.

  • Common redshank (Tringa totanus)

    As this bird’s name suggests, its’ most distinctive features are its’ bright orange-red legs.

  • Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)

    A medium-sized goose that winters in the UK. Numbers are increasing in England, probably because of better protection at winter roosts.

  • Red knot (Calidris canutus)

    A dumpy, short-legged, stocky wading bird that depends on the rich source of worms and shellfish in estuaries. Large numbers come to the UK in the winter.

  • Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

    A familiar, stocky, black and white wading bird that mostly depends on mussels and cockles.

  • Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

    A medium sized diving duck with a distinctive yellow eye.

  • Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

    The commonest small wading bird found around UK shores with a distinctive black belly in the summer.

  • Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

    A widely distributed shorebird that prefers sandy and muddy estuaries.

  • Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

    This is a big, colourful duck, bigger than a mallard but smaller than a goose.

  • Greater scaup (Aythya marila)

    The UK’s rarest breeding duck.

  • Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata)

    This widely distributed wading bird with its distinctive long, curved bill is threatened by habitat loss.

  • Northern pintail (Anas acuta)

    This duck is slightly bigger than a mallard and has a very distinctive long tail that tapers to a point.

  • Northern shoveler (Anas clypeata)

    Shovelers are very striking surface feeing ducks with huge spoon like bills. The UK is home to more than 20% of the NW European population of this species.

  • Eurasian teal (Anas crecca)

    Little dabbling ducks - with a significant percentage of the wintering population in the UK.

  • Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)

    A medium sized goose not seen in summer in the UK. Because it only appeared in winter, people in the Middle Ages believed the geese were developing underwater and hatched from barnacles - hence the name.

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

Did you know?…

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns