SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Ouse Washes

image: SPA location map 

 

The Ouse Washes are located in eastern England on one of the major tributary rivers of The Wash. It is an extensive area of seasonally flooding wet grassland ('washland') lying between the Old and New Bedford Rivers, and acts as a floodwater storage system during winter months. The cycle of winter storage of floodwaters from the river and traditional summer grazing by cattle, as well as hay production, have given rise to a mosaic of rough grassland and wet pasture, with a diverse and rich ditch fauna and flora. The washlands support both breeding and wintering waterbirds. In summer, there are important breeding numbers of several wader species, as well as Spotted Crake Porzana porzana. In winter, the site holds very large numbers of swans, ducks and waders. During severe winter weather elsewhere, the Ouse Washes can attract waterbirds from other areas due to its relatively mild climate (compared with continental Europe) and abundant food resources. In winter, some wildfowl, especially swans, feed on agricultural land surrounding the SPA. 

 


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section


This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
 
During the breeding season;
 
Ruff Philomachus pugnax, 1 individuals representing at least 9.1% of the breeding population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1983-1987)
 
Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, 3 individuals representing at least 6.0% of the breeding population in Great Britain (3-4 males = minimum)
 
Over winter;
 
Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii, 4,639 individuals representing at least 66.3% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, 12 individuals representing at least 1.6% of the wintering population in Great Britain (6 year mean, 1982-1987)
 
Ruff Philomachus pugnax, 137 individuals representing at least 19.6% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus, 963 individuals representing at least 17.5% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
 
During the breeding season;
 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa limosa, 26 pairs representing <0.1% of the breeding Western Europe/W Africa population (Count, as at late 1980s-early 1990s)
 
Gadwall Anas strepera, 111 pairs representing at least 1.1% of the breeding Northwestern Europe population
 
Shoveler Anas clypeata, 155 pairs representing at least 1.2% of the breeding Northwestern/Central Europe population (Count, as at late 1980s-early 1990s)
 
Over winter;
 
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, 1,198 individuals representing at least 1.7% of the wintering Iceland - breeding population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Gadwall Anas strepera, 342 individuals representing at least 1.1% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Pintail Anas acuta, 1,755 individuals representing at least 2.9% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Pochard Aythya ferina, 3,590 individuals representing at least 1.0% of the wintering Northwestern/Northeastern Europe population
 
Shoveler Anas clypeata, 681 individuals representing at least 1.7% of the wintering Northwestern/Central Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Wigeon Anas penelope, 29,713 individuals representing at least 2.4% of the wintering Western Siberia/Northwestern/Northeastern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Assemblage qualification: A wetland of international importance.
 
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 waterfowl
 
Over winter, the area regularly supports 64,392 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Coot Fulica atra, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Teal Anas crecca, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, Pochard Aythya ferina, Shoveler Anas clypeata, Pintail Anas acuta, Gadwall Anas strepera, Wigeon Anas penelope, Ruff Philomachus pugnax, Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus, Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii

 


Note:

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
 
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.