The Dee Estuary is one of Europe's most important estuarine sites, bursting with birdlife which feed on the rich and fertile mud surrounding the river.
Last updated: 15 March 2011
The Dee Estuary, winding towards Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea, sprawls and lolls its way between north Wales to the west and the Wirral to the east.
It covers more than 30,000 acres and has extensive areas of mud flats, sand flats and salt marsh which attract a great variety of birds, particularly migratory birds.
By the time it nears open water, it has become one of Europe's most important estuarine sites, bursting with birdlife which feeds on the teeming multitude of invertebrate life in the fertile mud surrounding the river.
This particular estuary has been a nature reserve for centuries and during the winter, more than 100,000 waders and 20,000 water fowl make it their home.
Species can range from mundane gulls through little egrets, avocets, whitethroats, black tailed godwit, Cetti's warblers, grasshopper warblers, lesser redpolls and common sandpipers.
Over the last 10 years, there have been some even rarer specimens: white-tailed eagle, red-breasted flycatcher, sub alpine warbler, white-winged black tern, great white egret, blue-winged teal, white-rumped sandpiper, long-billed dowitcher, marsh sandpiper, laughing gull, Bonaparte's gull, Richard's pipit, and Blyth's reed warbler.
At Gronant, near the mouth of the estuary, you'll find little terns nesting at Wales' only breeding colony of these dainty little seabirds which then winter off the West African coast.
The estuary is also home to over 500 Grey seals which haul up on West Hoyle Bank near Hilbre Island at low tide.
These do not breed here, in autumn they return to their breeding rookeries around Pembrokeshire and the Hebridean Islands of Scotland.
On the fields around the estuary, species such as short eared owls can also be seen.
This is a large area with many vantage points from which to view the wildlife.
Tick off what you've spotted with our handy wildlife spotter guides.
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