The Dee Estuary

The River Dee flows into the estuary and out to sea into Liverpool Bay.

The estuary contains large areas of sand and salt marsh. It is very important for wildlife, especially wading birds and wildfowl - it is one of the top ten estuaries in Europe for birds, and the most important wetland site in Wales. Much of it is a protected nature reserve, and many birdwatchers visit the area.

Aerial photographs of the Dee Estuary
by Brendon Cox
Click HERE for more aerial photographs of the Dee Estuary

Map of the estuary

Salt Marsh
The Dee estuary has large areas of salt marsh, especially on the English side.
A salt marsh is an area of flat land alongside the sea which fills with salty seawater during high tides, then drains again during low tides. It has many snaking channels, called tidal creeks, and is an important habitat for many plant and animal species.
Aerial photograph of salt marsh at Parkgate Close up: salt marsh at Connah's Quay

Salt marsh at  Neston, showing many tidal creeks
Click the picture to the right
to learn more about the salt marsh habitat
(and to control the animation)
Wildlife on the estuary
The Dee Estuary is a protected area because of the wildlife found there, especially birds. Many of these birds only spend part of the year on the estuary - they migrate there from colder parts of the world during the winter months.
The estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area and part of the RSPB's Dee Estuary Nature Reserve.

Up to 100,000 wading birds from the Arctic spend the winter months on the estuary. They have migrated up to 5000 miles from their breeding grounds to find a warmer climate and food such as lugworms and shellfish.

Click the picture on the right
to watch a beautiful film
Sebastian Narbutas about the
Dee estuary and its birdlife
A flock of Little Terns Oystercatchers on the beach

The Great Knot: the most numerous bird on the estuary

A Curlew: its long beak lets it find food deep in the mud

Seals on a sandbank at the mouth of the estuary

Birdwatching on the estuary
Click the picture below to play a video
RSPB Bird Hide at Point of Ayr
Click the picture below
to see photos of birds on the Dee estuary.

to find out which birds
 are most commonly seen
on the estuary.

The Welsh shore (west) The English shore (east)

The Welsh side of the estuary, to the west, is more industrial, because the deep water channel for ships is on that side of the estuary. There are factories, docks and a steel works. 

The English side, to the east, is more rural. It has small towns such as Parkgate and Neston which once had harbours, before the estuary silted up and saltmarsh developed. This stopped the ships reaching them.
View towards the Welsh shore

View of the English shore (Thurstaston)

Welsh shore: Mostyn docks
Click for More ports and harbours on the Welsh side

English shore: Parkgate

Heritage Image Register
Lightbox Photography
National Oceanography Centre

Pilotage notes on the Dee Estuary