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Location United Kingdom, East Anglia
Central coordinates 0o 10.69' East  52o 27.52' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3, C2, C3, C4, C6
Area 2,490 ha
Altitude 1 - 2m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds



Site description The Ouse Washes lie between the Old and New Bedford Rivers and act as a flood-water storage system during the winter months, subjecting the unimproved neutral grassland to regular winter flooding. The flood meadow sward is characterized by many reed, grass and herb species. A diverse aquatic flora also exists at the site. The IBA is important for breeding ducks and wintering wildfowl.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  2003-2008  2,543 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus winter  2003-2008  4,104 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B3, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus winter  2003-2008  5,336 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Gadwall Mareca strepera winter  2003-2008  1,233 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Gadwall Mareca strepera breeding  2006  134 breeding pairs  good  B1i, B2, C3  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope winter  2003-2008  34,245 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata winter  2003-2008  1,429 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Teal Anas crecca winter  2003-2008  5,871 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2001-2006  3,123 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Ruff Calidris pugnax passage  2001-2006  176 individuals  good  C6  Least Concern 
Ruff Calidris pugnax winter  2001-2006  310 individuals  good  C6  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2003-2008  76,412 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   

IBA Monitoring

2007 high near favourable medium
Population
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - small dams happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - nutrient loads happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - sewage happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Transportation and service corridors utility & service lines likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Anas acuta Northern Pintail 1550 2543 individuals 100 favourable
Cygnus cygnus Whooper Swan 820 4104 individuals 100 favourable
Cygnus columbianus Tundra Swan 4690 5339 individuals 100 favourable
Mareca strepera Gadwall 155 134 breeding pairs 87 near favourable
Mareca strepera Gadwall 370 1233 individuals 100 favourable
Mareca penelope Eurasian Wigeon 28500 34245 individuals 100 favourable
Spatula clypeata Northern Shoveler 765 1429 individuals 100 favourable
Anas crecca Common Teal 3690 5871 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 505 18 individuals 4 not assessed
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 1540 3123 individuals 100 favourable
Calidris pugnax Ruff 135 176 individuals 100 favourable
Calidris pugnax Ruff 135 310 individuals 100 favourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 62914 76412 individuals 100 favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ouse Washes Birds Directive 2,447 protected area contained by site 2,447  
Ouse Washes RSPB Reserve 1,562 protected area contained by site 1,562  
Ouse Washes Site of Special Scientific Interest 2,514 protected area contained by site 2,469  
Ouse Washes Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 2,469 protected area contained by site 2,469  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   -
Wetlands (inland) Rivers and streams; Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
nature conservation and research -
water management -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ouse Washes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/12/2014

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