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Location United Kingdom, South East
Central coordinates 0o 50.57' East  51o 21.64' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3, C2, C3, C4, C6
Area 6,486 ha
Altitude 0 - 27m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds



Site description Mudflats and saltmarshes bordering the Swale, which separates the Isle of Sheppey from the Kent mainland, in addition to extensive brackish and freshwater grazing-marshes on both sides of the channel. The IBA is important for wintering and passage wildfowl and waders, and breeding wildfowl, gulls and other reedbed/wetland species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  2001-2006  831 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope winter  2001-2006  17,877 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Teal Anas crecca winter  2001-2006  4,709 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta passage  2001-2006  377 individuals  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  2001-2006  582 individuals  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  2002  254 breeding pairs  good  B3, C6  Least Concern 
Eurasian Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria winter  2001-2006  10,032 individuals  good  B1i, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola passage  2001-2006  1,803 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula passage  2001-2006  665 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus passage  2001-2006  1,637 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa passage  2001-2006  1,705 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2001-2006  1,403 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica passage  2001-2006  335 individuals  good  C6  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  2001-2006  613 individuals  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata passage  2001-2006  1,456 individuals  good  B2  Near Threatened 
Red Knot Calidris canutus winter  2001-2006  3,010 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Dunlin Calidris alpina winter  2001-2006  9,617 individuals  good  B2  Least Concern 
Ruff Calidris pugnax winter  2001-2006  69 individuals  good  C6  Least Concern 
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus breeding  2000  13 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2001-2006  35,006 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2001-2006  83,177 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   

IBA Monitoring

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

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - small dams likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Anas acuta Northern Pintail 830 831 individuals 100 favourable
Mareca penelope Eurasian Wigeon 11600 17877 individuals 100 favourable
Spatula clypeata Northern Shoveler 460 370 individuals 81 near favourable
Anas crecca Common Teal 2960 4709 individuals 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 75 254 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 130 377 individuals 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 170 582 individuals 100 favourable
Pluvialis apricaria Eurasian Golden Plover 2640 10032 individuals 100 favourable
Pluvialis squatarola Grey Plover 1890 1803 individuals 96 favourable
Pluvialis squatarola Grey Plover 2020 1609 individuals 80 near favourable
Charadrius hiaticula Common Ringed Plover 605 665 individuals 100 favourable
Tringa totanus Common Redshank 1540 1471 individuals 96 favourable
Tringa totanus Common Redshank 1250 1637 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 760 1705 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 1520 1403 individuals 93 favourable
Limosa lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit 460 613 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit 410 335 individuals 82 near favourable
Numenius arquata Eurasian Curlew 1550 1079 individuals 70 near favourable
Numenius arquata Eurasian Curlew 1530 1456 individuals 96 favourable
Calidris canutus Red Knot 4760 3010 individuals 64 not assessed
Calidris alpina Dunlin 11150 9617 individuals 87 near favourable
Calidris pugnax Ruff 73 69 individuals 95 favourable
Larus melanocephalus Mediterranean Gull 5 13 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 67440 83177 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  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Elmley National Nature Reserve 1,212 protected area overlaps with site 830  
The Swale Birds Directive 6,515 is identical to site 6,486  
The Swale Site of Special Scientific Interest 6,509 is identical to site 6,486  
The Swale Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 6,515 is identical to site 6,486  

Habitats

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

Land use

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: The Swale. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/12/2014

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