Report 574
An assessment of the numbers and distributions of wintering red-throated diver, little gull and common scoter in the Greater Wash
(2015)
Lawson J., Kober, K., Win, I., Allcock, Z., Black, J., Reid, J.B., Way, L. & O’Brien, S.H.
This report presents population estimates for waterbirds in the Greater Wash area of search during the winter period October to March, inclusive, based on aerial survey data collected during the period 2002 to 2008. The numbers of these species are assessed against the population thresholds advised in the UK SPA selection guidelines. Musgrove et al (2013) was used for UK population estimates and biogeographic population estimates were from Wetlands International, WPE5 (2015). Where species populations meet these thresholds in the area of search important aggregations are identified with a view to delineation of a possible SPA boundary.
 

Introduction

 
In 1979, the European Commission adopted the European Council (EC) Directive on the conservation of wild birds, commonly known as the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC).  It requires Member States to classify the “most suitable territories” in number and size as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for species listed on Annex I of the Directive and regularly occurring migratory species.
 
The UK SPA selection guidelines for the identification of SPAs advise that sites should be identified in two stages (Stroud et al 2001). While Stage 1 identifies areas that are likely to qualify for SPA status, Stage 2 further considers these areas to select the most suitable areas in number and size for SPA classification.
 
In order to help identify inshore areas that might be suitable for SPA classification for waterbirds (mostly divers, grebes, and seaduck), 45 areas of search (AoS) were selected where potentially important numbers of these birds congregate outside the breeding season. The Greater Wash was one these areas of search as the existing literature indicated that large numbers of red-throated diver occurred there annually outside the breeding season.
 
Natural England (NE) advises the UK Government of the most suitable areas for classification as SPAs in UK territorial waters adjacent to England (within 12nm). The aim of this report is to provide NE with the evidence necessary to support its advice to the UK Government on the relative importance of the Greater Wash area in a UK context for inshore wintering waterbirds.
 
 
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ISSN 0963-8901
 
Please cite as: Lawson J., Kober, K., Win, I., Allcock, Z., Black, J., Reid, J.B., Way, L. & O’Brien, S.H., (2015), An assessment of the numbers and distributions of wintering red-throated diver, little gull and common scoter in the Greater Wash, JNCC Report 574, ISSN 0963-8901