Solent and Southampton Water SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is on the southern coast of England. The area extends from Hurst Spit to Hill Head along the south coast of Hampshire, and from Yarmouth to Whitecliff Bay along the north coast of the Isle of Wight.  This site is a series of estuaries and harbours with extensive mud-flats and saltmarshes, together with coastal habitats including salt water lagoons and shingle beaches.  In summer, the site is home to breeding seabirds, including gulls and four species of tern. In winter, the site holds  large numbers of waterbirds, including geese, ducks and waders. 

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 1998

Surface Area

54.05 km2 (20.87 mi.2)


434.11 km (269.74 mi.)

  • 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.

  • Common tern (Sterna hirundo)

    A silvery-grey and white bird sometimes called a ‘sea swallow’ because of it’s long tail.

  • Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

    One of Scotland’s four regularly breeding tern species.

  • Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa islandica)

    A large wading bird with a very distinctive long beak.

  • Roseate tern (Sterna dougallii)

    One of our rarest seabirds with long tail streamers and a pinkish tinge to its underparts in summer - which gives it its name.

  • Eurasian teal (Anas crecca)

    Little dabbling ducks - with a significant percentage of the wintering population in the UK.

  • 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.

  • Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus)

    A very rare UK bird until the 1950s, it is widespread in winter and there are now just over 600 breeding pairs. The Mediterranean gull is is slightly larger than a black-headed gull, with an all-black head in the breeding season.

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

Did you know?…

Over 500,000 records of undersea species and habitats have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers

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