Alde-Ore Estuary SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is on the Suffolk coast in eastern England. It is made up of the estuarine complex of the rivers Alde, Butley and Ore, including Havergate Island and Orfordness.  Mud-flats, saltmarsh, saline lagoons and semi-intensified grazing marsh are all found here. A large bed of shingle, known as the Orfordness/Shingle Street landform is in this site, and it is unique within the UK.  During winter, birds such as wetland birds including seabirds, wildfowl and waders come here to feed and shelter. This area is especially important because several species of seabird, wader and raptor nest here.

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 October 1996

Surface Area

24.02 km2 (9.27 mi.2)


99.17 km (61.62 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

52° 6' 35" North, 1° 32' 38" East

  • 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.

  • Common redshank (Tringa totanus)

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

  • Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

    One of Scotland’s four regularly breeding tern species.

  • Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus)

    The UK is home to 40% of the world’s population of this medium sized gull and there are serious concerns about declines in parts of its range.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

    A distinctively-patterned black and white wading bird with a long up-curved beak. 

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

Did you know?…

Over 170 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum signed up to our Marine Charter calling for a network of ‘marine protected areas’ in UK Seas

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