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Location United Kingdom, South East
Central coordinates 0o 39.86' East  51o 23.98' North
IBA criteria A4iii, B1i, B2, C2, C3, C4, C6
Area 4,668 ha
Altitude 0 - 15m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds



Site description The Medway estuary 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 grazing-marsh. The mudflats support extensive beds of algae and eel-grass Zostera. The IBA is important for wintering and passage wildfowl. Terns and gulls breed on saltmarsh islands, and wildfowl breed on the grazing-marshes.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  2001-2006  1,118 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta passage  2001-2006  576 individuals  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  2001-2006  860 individuals  good  B1i, B2, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  2002  138 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  2001-2006  1,537 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata winter  2001-2006  1,298 individuals  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Dunlin Calidris alpina winter  2001-2006  7,024 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis breeding  2006  504 breeding pairs  good  B1i, B2  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2001-2006  25,547 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   

IBA Monitoring

2007 high very unfavourable low
Population
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors shipping lanes likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Anas acuta Northern Pintail 695 1118 individuals 100 favourable
Branta bernicla Brent Goose 4420 1488 individuals 34 very unfavourable
Tadorna tadorna Common Shelduck 5900 2056 individuals 35 very unfavourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 34 138 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 310 576 individuals 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 170 860 individuals 100 favourable
Pluvialis squatarola Grey Plover 3430 749 individuals 22 very unfavourable
Pluvialis squatarola Grey Plover 3690 1272 individuals 35 very unfavourable
Charadrius hiaticula Common Ringed Plover 1160 122 individuals 11 very unfavourable
Charadrius hiaticula Common Ringed Plover 730 136 individuals 19 very unfavourable
Tringa totanus Common Redshank 5800 1221 individuals 22 very unfavourable
Tringa totanus Common Redshank 3630 1537 individuals 43 unfavourable
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 1310 398 individuals 31 very unfavourable
Numenius arquata Eurasian Curlew 1960 1298 individuals 67 unfavourable
Arenaria interpres Ruddy Turnstone 1140 298 individuals 27 very unfavourable
Calidris alpina Dunlin 27700 7024 individuals 26 very unfavourable
Calidris alpina Dunlin 16600 4698 individuals 29 very unfavourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Medway Estuary and Marshes Birds Directive 4,684 is identical to site 4,668  
Medway Estuary and Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest 4,749 is identical to site 4,668  
Medway Estuary and Marshes Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 4,697 is identical to site 4,668  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Humid grasslands  -
Wetlands (inland) Mud flats and sand flats; Rivers and streams; Salt marshes; Shingle or stony beaches; Tidal rivers and enclosed tidal waters; Water fringe vegetation  -
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Medway Estuary and Marshes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/11/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife