The Swale

Site overview: This site is on the south side of the outer part of the Thames Estuary in south-eastern England. The Swale is an estuary that separates the Isle of Sheppey from the Kent mainland. Beds of algae and eelgrass grow here and are important food sources for waterbirds. There are also large Mussel beds here. This site is home to large numbers of waterbirds throughout the year. In summer, the site is home to the marsh harrier, breeding waders and Mediterranean gulls. It is also home to large numbers of geese, ducks and waders.

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° 21' 47" North,
0° 52' 28" East

Surface Area

65.08 km2
(25.13 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


  • Common redshank (Tringa totanus) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Eurasian teal (Anas crecca) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla) (Regularly occurring migratory species)
  • Gadwall (Anas strepera) (Regularly occurring migratory species)