Benfleet and Southend Marshes

Site overview: This site is on the north shore of the outer Thames Estuary in southern England. The site comprises a large area of saltmarshes, cockle shell banks, mud-flats and grassland. These areas provide an excellent feeding ground for a wide range of wintering wildfowl and waders. In fact, over winter, the area regularly supports over 34,000 individual waterfowl, including dunlins, ringed plovers, oystercatchers, knots, grey plovers and dark-bellied brent geese.

Designation Status
Last Updated
6 June 2017
MPA Type
Special Protection Area
MPA Purpose
areas of the most important habitat for rare (listed on Annex I to the Directive) and migratory birds within the European Union


51° 31' 37" North,
0° 41' 2" East

Surface Area

22.84 km2
(8.82 mi.2 )

Iconic features protected by this site


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


  • Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula) (Regularly occurring migratory species)


  • Waterfowl assemblage


  • Red knot (Calidris canutus) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla) (Regularly occurring migratory species)