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Location United Kingdom, East Anglia,East Midlands
Central coordinates 0o 17.40' East  52o 56.20' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3, C2, C3, C4, C6
Area 69,908 ha
Altitude 0 - 6m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds



Site description The IBA comprises one of the most important areas of estuarine mudflats, sandbanks and saltmarsh in the UK. Included at the eastern end of the site are the low chalk cliffs at Hunstanton. Dune and saltmarsh communities show a typical flora and fauna, although much of the upper saltmarsh zone has been reclaimed. The Wash supports an important shellfishery. This extensive site is an important breeding area for several species of wildfowl, gulls and terns, and supports large concentrations of passage and wintering waders and wildfowl.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Northern Pintail Anas acuta winter  2001-2006  867 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus passage  2001-2006  2,895 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus winter  2001-2006  31,901 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Brent Goose Branta bernicla passage  2001-2006  4,669 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Brent Goose Branta bernicla winter  2001-2006  20,273 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna passage  2001-2006  3,923 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna winter  2001-2006  8,150 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus breeding  2004  19 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus breeding  2004  2 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Haematopus ostralegus passage  2001-2006  15,514 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Not Recognised 
Haematopus ostralegus winter  2001-2006  14,781 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Not Recognised 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta passage  2001-2006  473 individuals  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta winter  2001-2006  155 individuals  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  2006  78 breeding pairs  good  B3, C6  Least Concern 
Eurasian Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria passage  2001-2006  16,620 individuals  good  B1i, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Eurasian Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria winter  2001-2006  21,579 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola passage  2001-2006  8,741 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola winter  2001-2006  7,189 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula passage  2001-2006  885 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus passage  2001-2006  7,043 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus winter  2001-2006  3,225 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Redshank Tringa totanus breeding  1994  580 breeding pairs  good  B1i, B2, C3  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa winter  2001-2006  4,798 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa passage  2001-2006  7,880 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica passage  2001-2006  10,770 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica winter  2001-2006  15,603 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata passage  2001-2006  9,309 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Near Threatened 
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata winter  2001-2006  3,603 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C3  Near Threatened 
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres passage  2001-2006  1,114 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Red Knot Calidris canutus passage  2001-2006  39,714 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Red Knot Calidris canutus winter  2001-2006  84,086 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C3  Least Concern 
Sanderling Calidris alba passage  2001-2006  3,285 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Dunlin Calidris alpina passage  2001-2006  33,260 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Dunlin Calidris alpina winter  2001-2006  31,944 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, B2, C3  Least Concern 
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus breeding  1999  1 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  2001  68 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2001-2006  199,862 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  2001-2006  312,262 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds passage  2001-2006  83,376 individuals  good  A4iii, C4   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 45,100 protected area overlaps with site 5,726  
The Wash Birds Directive 62,212 protected area contained by site 62,212  
The Wash National Nature Reserve 306 protected area contained by site 8,582  
The Wash Site of Special Scientific Interest 62,046 protected area contained by site 62,212  
The Wash Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 62,212 protected area contained by site 62,212  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Mud flats and sand flats; Salt marshes; Sand dunes and beaches; Standing brackish and salt water; Tidal rivers and enclosed tidal waters; Water fringe vegetation  -
Coastline Sea cliffs and rocky shores  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
military -
nature conservation and research -
urban/industrial/transport -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: The Wash. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/07/2014

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