Blackwater Estuary (Mid-Essex Coast Phase 4) SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

The Blackwater Estuary is located on the coast of Essex and is a Special Protection Area, which is a type of Marine Protected Area. Its mud-flats are fringed by saltmarsh on the upper shores, with shingle, shell banks and offshore islands a feature of the tidal flats.  The range of different habitats found here are important for a wide range waterbirds in winter, including raptors, geese, ducks and waders. The site is also important in summer for breeding terns.

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 May 1995

Surface Area

44.03 km2 (17.00 mi.2)

Perimeter

281.93 km (175.18 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

51° 44' 32" North, 0° 48' 55" East

  • Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

    A small, dumpy, short-legged wading bird that breed on beaches around the coast.

  • 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.

  • Waterfowl assemblage

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

Did you know?…

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

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

The future of fisheries is being decided

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