Medway Estuary and Marshes SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

The Medway Estuary feeds into and lies on the south side of the outer Thames Estuary in Kent, south-east England.  The site is home to a large number of waterbirds throughout the year. In summer, the estuary supports breeding waders and terns, whilst in winter it holds important numbers of geese, ducks, grebes and waders. The site is also of importance during spring and autumn migration periods, especially for 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 December 1993

Surface Area

46.86 km2 (18.09 mi.2)

Perimeter

214.20 km (133.10 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

51° 24' 31" North, 0° 39' 34" 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata)

    The smallest of Scotland’s diver species. Typically breeds on inland water bodies in open moorland or blanket bog landscapes. Feeds on a mix of freshwater and marine prey, mainly fish.

  • 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 tern (Sterna hirundo)

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

  • 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.

  • Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

    A familiar, stocky, black and white wading bird that mostly depends on mussels and cockles.

  • 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.

  • Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

    Widely distributed and familiar duck. The males have a green head and yellow bill while the females are brown.

  • 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 pintail (Anas acuta)

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

  • Northern shoveler (Anas clypeata)

    Shovelers are very striking surface feeing ducks with huge spoon like bills. The UK is home to more than 20% of the NW European population of this species.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

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

  • Common greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

    A slim, medium-sized wading bird with green legs - hence the name.

  • Merlin (Falco columbarius)

    The UK’s smallest bird of prey.

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

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