Morcambe Bay

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Morcambe Bay Photographed by Pete Sandbach
Morecambe BayMorecambe Bay
Morecambe Bay is a bird habitat of International importance and also enjoys a deserved reputation for its beauty and panoramic views.The Bay is an area of 195 square miles with 120 square miles of sands exposed at extreme low tides. It is the largest continuous intertidal area in Britain.The rivers Crake,Keer,Leven,Lune and Wyre feed the bay making it the third most imprtant estuary in Europe in terms of birdlife supported. It's the UK's most important site for dunlin, oystercatcher, curlew and turnstone and has a dependant population of more than 200,000 wildfowl and wading birds.National and International designations protect the bay, all recognising and emphasising the Bay's importance.
The award winning Tern Project is a collection of unique artworks situated along the promenade area in Morecambe, Lancashire. Click here for further details.....
110,000 wintering waders

110,000 wintering waders

The estuary is the second most important in the UK after The Wash as a feeding and roosting ground for large concentrations of wintering wading birds. It regularly supports 110,000 wintering waders with 9 species occurring at nationally important levels (numbers exceeding1% of the British population). These are oystercatcher (41,000), dunlin (31,000), knot(14,000), curlew (8,000), redshank (5,000) Picture Ulf Gotthardsson, turnstone (1,200), bar-tailed godwit (3,200), greyplover (700) and ringed plover (310); the first 6 are recorded at levels of international significance (numbers exceeding 1% of the European population). Internationally important numbers of ringed plover (1,200) are recorded on passage in the spring, and nationally important numbers of dunlin (3,000) and redshank (5,600) in the autumn. Although no discrete populations of sanderling are identifiable during migration, passage counts indicate the international significance of Morecambe Bay for this species with a recent spring count of 8,500.The Bay also regularly supports 16,000 wintering wildfowl with internationally important numbers of shelduck (3,200) and pintail (2,500). A further 3 species reach nationally important levels namely eider (3,400), goldeneye (300) and red breasted merganser (130).Key areas for roosting and feeding wintering wildfowl and waders include Newbiggin,Priory Point,Chapel Island,Sandgate Marsh,East/West Plain Marsh,the River Kent Estuary and Silverdale,Carnforth,Hest Bank,Bolton-le-Sands Marshes (See below for maps).
The coastal marshes provide a nesting habitat for breeding oystercatcher, ringed plover,lapwing, dunlin, curlew, redshank, shelduck, snipe, black-headed gull, wheatear, reed bunting,common tern, sedge warbler and linnet.The most extensive areas of saltmarsh are to be found at Hest Bank, Carnforth, Silverdale and Meathop Marshes, the Keer and Kent estuaries, and three larger marshes at Flookburgh: EastPlain, West Plain and Sandgate. Seawatching at Jenny Brown's point (see free map) can be rewarding after south-westerly gales for seabirds, skuas, terns etc and also autumn wader passage.Migrant passerines have also been recorded which have included pallas's warbler.The saltmarsh vegetation reflects the age, substrate and management of the marshes and shows a well-represented sequence of plant communitiesmoving from the shore inland.The seaward edge of the marsh is typified by pioneer species notably common saltmarsh grass Puccinellia maritima and occasionally glasswort Salicornia europaea. Cordgrass Spartinaanglica has recently spread on to muddier substrates south of the River Keer and in the northaround Holme Island, Plumpton and Kents Bank. Above the pioneer zone low level saltingsdominated by common saltmarsh grass give way to saltings at a higher level dominated by redfescue Festuca rubra. Other species characteristic of this level include thrift Armeria maritimaand sea plantain Plantago maritima. Wet depressions in the upper marsh support communities with the uncommon saltmarsh flat-sedge Blysmus rufus or slender spike-rush Eleocharis uniglumis being locally dominant. In higher brackish areas the saltmarsh rush Juncus gerardi and sea rush Juncus maritimus can be found. At the landward edge of the marshes the proportion of salt-tolerant species decreases leaving a sward dominated by Agrostis spp,and fescue Festuca spp. grasses with species such as autumn hawkbitLeontodon autumnalis, sedges and rushes.

Sites of Special Scientific Intertest

Sites of Special Scientific Intertest

Almost all the saltmarshes are heavily grazed, mainly by sheep, a major factor in producing the characteristic low swards dominated by such species as common saltmarsh grass, red fescueand creeping bent Agrostis stolonifera. Where grazing is less intense and turf cutting is not practised a number of salt-tolerant plants such as common sea lavender Limonium vulgare, lax-flowered sea lavender Limonium humile and sea purslane Halimione portulacoides occur.Brackish water areas to the inland edge of the marshes and along rivers support communities dominated by common reed Phragmites australis, sea club rush Scirpus maritimus, reedmaceTypha latifolia, and glaucous bulrush Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani. Beaked tasselweed Ruppia maritima is also found.In other localities there are transitions to species-rich freshwater habitats with meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria and yellow iris Iris pseudacorus. The West Plainœ Canon Winder area includes transitions to shingle habitat, which is vegetated in some localities, as at Newbiggin where species such as Ray‘s knot grass Polygonum oxyspermum ssp. raii, sea rocket Cakilemaritima, seakale Crambe maritima, yellow horned poppy Glaucium flavum, sea holly Eryngium maritimum and sea sandwort Honkenya peploides are present.The shores of the Bay support a diverse terrestrial fauna. Associated with the saltmarsh arenationally scarce species of leaf beetle Phaedon concinnus, weevil Trichosirocalus dawasoni and moth Pediasia aridella, whilst the areas of bare sandy mud and accumulations of strandline material at the top of the shore are home to a number of species of beetle including the nationally scarce ground beetles Agonum nigrum and Bembidion bipunctatum and the rovebeetle Quedius pallipes. Other nationally scarce species include the water beetle typical ofbrackish pools Ochthebius marinus and the hoverfly Platycheirus immarginatus. A number of scarce butterflies are regularly recorded on the saltmarshes around Carnforth but these breed ona djacent calcareous grasslands in the Yealand/Silverdale area.A number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, complementary to the interest of the Bay, are included within the site described in ”A Nature Conservation Review‘. In particular the head of the Bay has a number of low Carboniferous Limestone cliffs and lowland calcareous grasslandas well as rich paramaritime flora which can be found at Barker Scar, Humphrey Head,Meathop Woods and Quarry and Far Arnside SSSIs. The first two listed and Skelwith Hill SSSI are also important for their geological features. Additional interest is provided by an exposure of Permian brockram of local geological importance at Rougholme Point and by asmall area of oak-birch woodland at Crag Wood. Limestone cliffs supporting the nationally scarce Maiden hair-fern Adiantum capillus œ veneris and the rare whitebeam Sorbus lancastriensis are also found within the site.

Click names for location maps.....

Chapel Island
Ings Point Silverdale *****
Hest Bank & Bolton-le-Sands Marshes
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