SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Blackwater Estuary (Mid-Essex Coast Phase 4)

image: SPA location map 

 

The Blackwater Estuary is located on the coast of Essex in eastern England. It is the largest estuary in Essex and is one of the largest estuarine complexes in East Anglia. 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 surrounding terrestrial habitats,; the sea wall, ancient grazing marsh and its associated fleet and ditch systems, plus semi-improved grassland, are of high conservation interest. The diversity of estuarine habitats results in the sites being of importance for a wide range of overwintering waterbirds, including raptors, geese, ducks and waders. The site is also important in summer for breeding terns.
 
The Blackwater Estuary is an integral component of the phased Mid-Essex Coast SPA.
The site includes the subsumed SPA of Old Hall Marshes, which was subject to separate classification.
 
For more information see Phased, extended and subsumed SPAs
 

Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section


This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
 
During the breeding season;
 
Little Tern Sterna albifrons, 36 pairs representing at least 1.5% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1997)
 
Over winter;
 
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, 76 individuals representing at least 6.0% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 7,247 individuals representing at least 2.9% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, 4 individuals representing up to 0.5% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year mean, 1993/94-94/95, 1996/7-98/99)
 
Ruff Philomachus pugnax, 51 individuals representing up to 7.3% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
 
On passage;
 
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 955 individuals representing up to 1.9% of the Europe/Northern Africa - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Over winter;
 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, 1,280 individuals representing up to 1.8% of the wintering Iceland - breeding population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, 15,392 individuals representing up to 5.1% of the wintering Western Siberia/Western Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, 33,267 individuals representing up to 2.4% of the wintering Northern Siberia/Europe/Western Africa population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, 5,090 individuals representing up to 3.4% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Redshank Tringa totanus, 4,015 individuals representing up to 2.7% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 600 individuals representing up to 1.2% of the wintering Europe/Northern Africa - wintering population (WeBS/Peter Clement)
 
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, 4,594 individuals representing up to 1.5% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Assemblage qualification: A wetland of international importance.
 
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 waterfowl
 
Over winter, the area regularly supports 109,815 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Ruff Philomachus pugnax, Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Redshank Tringa totanus, Curlew Numenius arquata, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Wigeon Anas penelope, Teal Anas crecca, Pintail Anas acuta, Shoveler Anas clypeata, Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica.


Note:

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
 
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.