Stour and Orwell Estuaries SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

The Stour and Orwell estuaries straddle the eastern part of the Essex/Suffolk border in eastern England. The estuaries are made up of mud-flats, low cliffs and salt-marsh.  In summer, the site becomes home for lots of breeding avocets. In winter waterbirds flock to this area, especially geese, ducks and waders. The geese also feed, and waders roost, in surrounding areas of agricultural land outside the site.

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 July 1994

Surface Area

36.71 km2 (14.17 mi.2)

Perimeter

93.64 km (58.19 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

51° 58' 7" North, 1° 11' 13" East

  • 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.

  • Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

    A large, dark waterbird. Often seen standing with its wings spread out to dry. The UK provides internationally important wintering grounds for these birds.

  • Eurasian wigeon (Anas penelope)

    Sites in the UK are an important wintering ground for these small ducks.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata)

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

  • Great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)

    Hunted for its feathers this stunning waterbird was almost lost from the UK. They are well known for the elaborate courtship dance they do and for carrying their tiny young on their backs.

  • 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.

  • Northern pintail (Anas acuta)

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

  • 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.

  • Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

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

  • Gadwall (Anas strepera)

    A grey dabbling duck a little smaller than the familiar mallard.

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

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

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