Humber Estuary SPA
This site is located on the east coast of England. In the inner estuary there are large areas of reedbed and saltmarshes. Parts of the estuary are owned and managed by conservation organisations. This is also part of the Humber Estuary European Marine Site (EMS). The estuary supports important numbers of waterbirds (especially geese, ducks and waders) during the migration periods and in winter. In summer, it is home to populations of bitterns, marsh harriers, avocets and little terns.
MPA TypeSpecial 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 date1 August 2007
Surface Area376.44 km2 (145.34 mi.2)
Perimeter284.62 km (176.85 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.
Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
A small, dumpy, short-legged wading bird that breed on beaches around the coast.
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
A a small, plump, energetic wading bird.
Little tern (Sterna albifrons)
This bird is one of the smallest of its species. Breeding colonies are located on beaches nearby shallow, sheltered waters which offer good foraging for small fish and invertebrates.
Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope)
Sites in the UK are an important wintering ground for these small ducks.
Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)
A long-billed, long-legged wading bird that visits the UK in the winter.
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.
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
A large wading bird that only breeds in north Scotland. The The Shetland and Orkney breeding population has been slowly increasing.
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.
Eurasian marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
A bird of prey - the largest of the harriers - is inching back in the UK and is now more secure than at any time in the last century. It is however still carefully protected.
Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica)
A large wading bird with a very distinctive long beak.
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.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Widely distributed and familiar duck. The males have a green head and yellow bill while the females are brown.
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 lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
This familiar farmland bird has suffered significant declines. It is also known as a ‘peewit’ after it’s call and get’s the name lapwing from its wavering flight.
Eurasian teal (Anas crecca)
Little dabbling ducks - with a significant percentage of the wintering population in the UK.
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
A medium sized wading bird that breeds in a very few lowland sites in eastern England where its numbers appear to be dropping. Males develop a very impressive ruff in the summer.
Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)
A small dark goose which occurs in good numbers at just a few sites in the UK. They are vegetarian and particularly partial to seagrass.
Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus)
The UK’s most intensively persecuted bird of prey. While they spend the summer on heaths and moors they head out to some coastal marhes in winter.
Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
A distinctively-patterned black and white wading bird with a long up-curved beak.
Common greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
A slim, medium-sized wading bird with green legs - hence the name.
Did you know?…
An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed
Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’
To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’