The Dee Estuary SPA

Status: Designated

Description

Site overview

The Dee Estuary is on the boundary between England and Wales on the north-west coast of Britain. It is a large, funnel-shaped, sheltered estuary that is made up of sand-flats, mud-flats and saltmarsh.  The site is of major importance for waterbirds. During the winter, the flats and saltmarshes provide feeding and roosting sites for ducks and waders. In summer, the site supports breeding populations of two species of terns at levels of European importance. The site is also important during migration periods, particularly for wader populations moving along the west coast of Britain.

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 July 1985

Surface Area

143.04 km2 (55.23 mi.2)

Perimeter

124.39 km (77.29 mi.)

  • 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.

  • Bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica)

    A long-billed, long-legged wading bird that visits the UK in the winter.

  • 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.

  • Sandwich tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

    One of Scotland’s four regularly breeding tern species.

  • 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.

  • Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata)

    This widely distributed wading bird with its distinctive long, curved bill is threatened by habitat loss.

  • Northern pintail (Anas acuta)

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

  • Eurasian teal (Anas crecca)

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

  • Marine areas, Sea inlets
  • 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’

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘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

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