SPA description
(information as published 2001)

North Norfolk Coast

image: SPA location map 

 

The North Norfolk Coast SPA encompasses much of the northern coastline of Norfolk in eastern England. It is a low-lying barrier coast that extends for 40 km from Holme to Weybourne and includes a great variety of coastal habitats. The main habitats – found along the whole coastline – include extensive intertidal sand- and mud-flats, saltmarshes, shingle and sand dunes, together with areas of freshwater grazing marsh and reedbed, which has developed in front of rising land. The site contains some of the best examples of saltmarsh in Europe. There are extensive deposits of shingle at Blakeney Point, and major sand dunes at Scolt Head. Extensive reedbeds are found at Brancaster, Cley and Titchwell. Maritime pasture is present at Cley and extensive areas of grazing marsh are present all along the coast. The grazing marsh at Holkham has a network of clear water dykes holding a rich diversity of aquatic plant species. The great diversity of high-quality freshwater, intertidal and marine habitats results in very large numbers of waterbirds occurring throughout the year. In summer, the site holds large breeding populations of waders, four species of terns, Bittern Botaurus stellaris and wetland raptors such as Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus. In winter, the coast is used by very large numbers of geese, sea-ducks, other ducks and waders. The coast is also of major importance for staging waterbirds in the spring and autumn migration periods. Breeding terns, particularly Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis, and wintering sea-ducks regularly feed outside the SPA in adjacent coastal waters.

 

To the west, the coastal habitats of North Norfolk Coast SPA are continuous with The Wash SPA, with which area the ecology of this site is intimately linked.
 

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, 177 pairs representing at least 30.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1998)
 
Bittern Botaurus stellaris, 3 individuals representing at least 15.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1998)
 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo, 460 pairs representing at least 3.7% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count, as at 1996)
 
Little Tern Sterna albifrons, 377 pairs representing at least 15.7% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1994-1998)
 
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, 14 pairs representing at least 8.8% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1995)
 
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus, 2 pairs representing at least 20.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1996)
 
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii, 2 pairs representing at least 3.3% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1994-1998)
 
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis, 3,457 pairs representing at least 24.7% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1994-1998)
 
Over winter;
 
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, 153 individuals representing at least 12.0% of the wintering population in Great Britain (Count as at 1997/8)
 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, 1,236 individuals representing at least 2.3% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Bittern Botaurus stellaris, 5 individuals representing at least 5.0% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1993/4 - 1998/9)
 
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 2,667 individuals representing at least 1.1% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, 16 individuals representing at least 2.1% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1993/4-1997/8)
 
Ruff Philomachus pugnax, 54 individuals representing at least 7.7% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1993/4 - 1998/9)
 
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:
 
During the breeding season;
 
Redshank Tringa totanus, 700 pairs representing at least 1.2% of the breeding Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (Count as at 1998)
 
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 220 pairs representing at least 1.4% of the breeding Europe/Northern Africa - wintering population (Count as at 1998)
 
On passage;
 
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 1,256 individuals representing at least 2.5% of the Europe/Northern Africa - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1994/5 - 1998/9)
 
Over winter;
 
Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, 11,512 individuals representing at least 3.8% of the wintering Western Siberia/Western Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Knot Calidris canutus, 10,801 individuals representing at least 3.1% of the wintering Northeastern Canada/Greenland/Iceland/Northwestern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus, 23,802 individuals representing at least 10.6% of the wintering Eastern Greenland/Iceland/UK population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Pintail Anas acuta, 1,139 individuals representing at least 1.9% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Redshank Tringa totanus, 2,998 individuals representing at least 2.0% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1993/4 - 1997/8)
 
Wigeon Anas penelope, 14,039 individuals representing at least 1.1% of the wintering Western Siberia/Northwestern/Northeastern 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 91,249 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Ruff Philomachus pugnax, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus, Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, Wigeon Anas penelope, Pintail Anas acuta, Knot Calidris canutus, Redshank Tringa totanus, Bittern Botaurus stellaris, White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons albifrons, Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, Gadwall Anas strepera, Teal Anas crecca, Shoveler Anas clypeata, Common Scoter Melanitta nigra, Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Sanderling Calidris alba, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo.

 


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.