SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Poole Harbour

image: SPA location map 

 

Poole Harbour is a bar-built estuary of nearly 4,000 ha located on the coast of Dorset in southern England. The Harbour occupies a shallow depression towards the south-western extremity of the Hampshire Basin which has flooded over the last 5,000 years as a result of rising sea levels. The unusual micro-tidal regime means that a significant body of water is retained throughout the tidal cycle. The Harbour therefore exhibits many of the characteristics of a lagoon. There are extensive intertidal mud-flats and, away from the north shore that has become urbanised through the growth of the town of Poole, there are fringes of saltmarsh and reedbed. As a whole, the Harbour supports important numbers of waterbirds in winter and is also an important breeding site for terns and gulls, whilst significant numbers of Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola occur on passage. Several river valleys converge on the Harbour, notably the Frome and the Piddle, and these support grazing marsh that contribute to the importance of the SPA for wintering waterbirds. Parts of the Harbour, especially along the western and southern shores, adjoin the Dorset Heathlands SPA. Where the two areas meet, there are unusual transitions from saltmarsh and reedbed to valley mire and heath habitats. The Harbour is separated from Poole Bay by the Studland Dunes (part of the Dorset Heaths [Purbeck and Wareham] and Studland Dunes SAC) and the SPA includes Littlesea, a large oligotrophic dune-slack lake of importance for wintering wildfowl. 

 


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;
 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo, 155 pairs representing at least 1.3% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1993-1997)
 
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus, 5 pairs representing at least 50.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1993-1997)
 
On passage;
 
Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, 11 individuals representing at least 16.4% of the population in Great Britain (Count as at 1997)
 
Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 107 individuals representing at least 13.4% of the population in Great Britain (Count as at 1998)
 
Over winter;
 
Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, 459 individuals representing at least 36.1% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1992/3-1996/7)
 
Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 83 individuals representing at least 16.6% of the wintering population in Great Britain (Count as at 1998)
 
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:
 
Over winter;
 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, 1,576 individuals representing at least 2.3% of the wintering Iceland - breeding population (5 year peak mean 1992/3-1996/7)
 
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, 3,569 individuals representing at least 1.2% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (4 year peak mean 1993/4-1996/7)
 
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 28,426 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Redshank Tringa totanus, Curlew Numenius arquata, Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Pochard Aythya ferina, Shoveler Anas clypeata, Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta, Little Egret Egretta garzetta

 


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.