SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Medway Estuary and Marshes

image: SPA location map 

 

The Medway Estuary feeds into and lies on the south side of the outer Thames Estuary in Kent, south-east England. It forms a single tidal system with the Swale and joins the Thames Estuary between the Isle of Grain and Sheerness. It has a complex arrangement of tidal channels, which drain around large islands of saltmarsh and peninsulas of grazing marsh. The mud-flats are rich in invertebrates and also support beds of Enteromorpha and some Eelgrass Zostera spp. Small shell beaches occur, particularly in the outer part of the estuary. Grazing marshes are present inside the sea walls around the estuary. The complex and diverse mixes of coastal habitats support important numbers 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. 

 


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;
 
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, 28 pairs representing at least 4.7% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean, 1988-1992)
 
Little Tern Sterna albifrons, 28 pairs representing at least 1.2% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean, 1991-1995)
 
Over winter;
 
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, 314 individuals representing at least 24.7% 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, 1,337 individuals representing at least 2.7% of the Europe/Northern Africa - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Over winter;
 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, 957 individuals representing at least 1.4% of the wintering Iceland - breeding population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, 3,205 individuals representing at least 1.1% of the wintering Western Siberia/Western Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, 25,936 individuals representing at least 1.9% of the wintering Northern Siberia/Europe/Western Africa population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, 3,406 individuals representing at least 2.3% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Pintail Anas acuta, 697 individuals representing at least 1.2% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Redshank Tringa totanus, 3,690 individuals representing at least 2.5% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 768 individuals representing at least 1.5% of the wintering Europe/Northern Africa - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, 4,465 individuals representing at least 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 65,274 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Pintail Anas acuta, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Redshank Tringa totanus, Curlew Numenius arquata, Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Wigeon Anas penelope, Teal Anas crecca, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus.

 


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.