The Dee Estuary/Aber Afon Dyfrdwy is of special interest for its total populations of internationally important wintering waterfowl; its populations of individual waterfowl and tern species whose numbers reach national and in some cases, internationally important levels; its intertidal mud and sandflats, saltmarsh and transitional habitats; the hard rocky sandstone cliffs of Hilbre Island and Middle Eye with their cliff vegetation and maritime heathland and grassland; its assemblage of nationally scarce plants; and its populations of sandhill rustic moth Luperina nickerlii gueneei, Red Data Book species.
The Dee is a large funnel shaped estuary which lies between the Wirral Peninsula, England and Flintshire, North East Wales. It was formerly much more extensive but large scale reclamation of intertidal land has occurred, principally at the head of the estuary. This followed the canalisation of the River Dee in the eighteenth century when an attempt was made to secure the continuation of Chester as a port. The estuary contains extensive areas of intertidal sand and mudflats, which support a variable but characteristic benthic fauna depending on the nature of the substrate. Large areas of saltmarsh also occur at its head and along part of its north-eastern shore. The estuary continues to accrete and further saltmarshes are developing, particularly on the English shoreline. Locally, on the Welsh shoreline, saltmarsh continues to erode, particularly between Greenfield and Flint. Within the estuary, the three small sandstone islands of Hilbre, Middle and Little Eye provide the only hard natural rock coast habitat along this section of coastline. A largely unvegetated shingle ridge occurs at the Point of Ayr. Although yellow embryo dunes occur at its western end, these are susceptible to erosion from wave action.
The Dee Estuary is one of the most important estuaries in Britain and amongst the most important in Europe for its populations of waders and wildfowl. The estuary is particularly important for its wintering bird populations and both waders and- wildfowl achieve numbers of international importance. The estuary supports internationally important populations of a number of wader species, namely, oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, knot Calidris canutus, curlew Numenius arquata, redshank Tringa totanus, bar-tailed godwit Limosa lapponica black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa, grey plover Pluvialis squatarola and dunlin Calidris alpina. The waders utilise the abundant invertebrate populations principally on the extensive intertidal flats, particularly the mudflats. Several wading bird species also make extensive use of the coastal grazing marshes and fields adjoining the estuary for feeding and roosting. Around the estuary are a number of high tide roost sites; principal sites include the Hilbre islands, the foreshore at West Kirby, the shingle spit at Point of Ayr and the saltmarshes at Oakenholt. Wildfowl present in internationally important numbers include pintail Anas acuta, for which the Dee and Mersey have been . the principal British wintering estuaries for many years, teal Anas crecca and shelduck Tadorna tadorna, whilst wigeon Anas penelope occur in nationally important numbers.
This site is currently under consideration for inclusion in the new UK MPA network. Having marine components does not automatically qualify a site to be part of the new MPA network. As such, the marine components of this site, as well as the management efforts, are being evaluated. Check out our MPApedia page on the UK for more information!
For general information on Dee Estuary/Aber Afon Dyfrdwy Site of Special Scientific Interest (regardless of MPA status), click here.
Contacts & Resources
Original data record from World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) via ProtectedPlanet.net [view record on site].