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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   

IBA Monitoring

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

Agricultural expansion and intensification marine and freshwater aquaculture - industrial aquaculture happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant 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
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance war, civil unrest and military exercises happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - persecution/control likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Anas acuta Northern Pintail 255 867 individuals 100 favourable
Anser brachyrhynchus Pink-footed Goose 24913 31901 individuals 100 favourable
Branta bernicla Brent Goose 23028 20273 individuals 89 near favourable
Cygnus cygnus Whooper Swan 70 23 individuals 33 not assessed
Cygnus columbianus Tundra Swan 45 15 individuals 34 not assessed
Tadorna tadorna Common Shelduck 12792 8150 individuals 64 unfavourable
Circus pygargus Montagu's Harrier 2 2 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Circus aeruginosus Western Marsh-harrier 23 19 breeding pairs 83 near favourable
Haematopus ostralegus 20399 14781 individuals 73 near favourable
Haematopus ostralegus 15069 15514 individuals 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 370 473 individuals 100 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 168 155 individuals 93 favourable
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 45 78 breeding pairs 100 favourable
Pluvialis apricaria Eurasian Golden Plover 4869 16620 individuals 100 favourable
Pluvialis apricaria Eurasian Golden Plover 16670 21579 individuals 100 favourable
Pluvialis squatarola Grey Plover 9488 7189 individuals 76 near favourable
Pluvialis squatarola Grey Plover 4651 8741 individuals 100 favourable
Charadrius hiaticula Common Ringed Plover 1079 885 individuals 83 near favourable
Tringa totanus Common Redshank 6254 7043 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit 3374 7880 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit 13337 15603 individuals 100 favourable
Limosa lapponica Bar-tailed Godwit 10732 10770 individuals 100 favourable
Numenius arquata Eurasian Curlew 9017 9309 individuals 100 favourable
Numenius arquata Eurasian Curlew 3550 3603 individuals 100 favourable
Numenius arquata Eurasian Curlew 2912 3225 individuals 100 favourable
Arenaria interpres Ruddy Turnstone 797 1114 individuals 100 favourable
Arenaria interpres Ruddy Turnstone 678 438 individuals 65 unfavourable
Calidris canutus Red Knot 73803 84086 individuals 100 favourable
Calidris canutus Red Knot 55542 39714 individuals 72 near favourable
Calidris alba Sanderling 1310 3285 individuals 100 favourable
Calidris alpina Dunlin 29558 33260 individuals 100 favourable
Calidris alpina Dunlin 34994 31944 individuals 92 favourable
Sterna hirundo Common Tern 230 68 breeding pairs 30 very unfavourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 191535 199862 individuals 100 favourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 271811 312262 individuals 100 favourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 165007 83370 individuals 51 unfavourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

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 21/11/2014

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