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Location Australia, Northern Territory
Central coordinates 130o 24.90' East  12o 57.18' South
IBA criteria A4i
Area 78,868 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia



Summary The floodplain of the Finniss River supports more than 1% of the world's Magpie Geese and Pied Herons. The adjacent intertidal mud of Fog Bay support more than 1% of the world's Great Knot and Grey-tailed Tattler, amongst the maximum of 35,000 shorebirds recorded.

Site description This IBA includes the intertidal areas of Fog Bay, from Point Jenny to Stingray Head, and the whole floodplain system of the Finniss River. The Finniss River floodplain is mostly seasonally inundated paperbark and sedge swamps. The Wagait section has significant numbers of Magpie Geese (Parks & Wildlife 2007). Three waterbird colonies are listed in Chatto (2000a) as refs W019, 20, 22, 24. Fog Bay is dominated by sand/mudflats or reefs, a mangrove or grassy sand dune shoreline and, in places, open saline flats and samphire areas and mangrove-lined channels. Chatto (2000b) suggested that the area of significance for shorebirds extends north past Dundee Downs to a chain of islands (Dum in Mirrie, Beer Eetar and Grose) but the data are inadequate to support IBA nomination of this area.

Key Biodiversity The intertidal mudflats of Fog Bay have supported up to 1700 near threatened Black-tailed Godwit (Chatto 2000b, 2003). Maximum counts at colony W019 in paperbarks on the Finniss River floodplain near Hatter Hill included 1500 egrets, 1400 Little Pied Cormorants, 1400 Little Black Cormorants and 400 Royal Spoonbills in 1995. Maximum counts at colony W020 in paperbarks on the Finniss River floodplain north-east of Mt Johns included 5800 Little Black Cormorants, 2600 Little Pied Cormorants, 1600 Darters, 1200 Great Egrets and 700 Intermediate Egrets in 1999 and 1500 egrets, 1000 Pied Herons and 600 Australian White Ibis in 1995. Maximum counts at colony W022 in paperbarks on the Ord River channel of the Finniss River included 700 Royal Spoonbills in 1995. Maximum counts at colony W024 in mangroves just south of the Finniss River mouth included 1000 Great Egrets (1993), 900 Pied Herons (1999), 600 Intermediate Egrets (1999) and 600 Little Pied Cormorants (1993, 1999). The highest count of mixed waterbirds was 22,000 in July 1996. These wetlands also support 1000s of Magpie Goose, Plumed Whistling-Duck, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Pied Heron, egrets, Glossy Ibis, Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis and Brolga. Many of these species are likely to exceed the % thresholds, notably Straw-necked Ibis which occur in 'very large numbers' in the dry season and Pied Heron and Brolga. The Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia recorded at least five regular waterbird breeding rookeries involving more than 20,000 adult birds, and up to 12,000 whistling-ducks. The highest count of waterbirds for the whole Fog Bay and adjacent wetlands was >38,000 in October 1995 (Chatto 2003) including 35,000 shorebirds (Chatto 2000b). Although Chatto (2000b, 2003) does not detail many individual counts, these include an estimated 1800 Greater Sand Plovers in 1998, 905 Terek Sandpipers in 1992 and 615 Grey Plover, 390 Lesser Sand Plover plus 2000 sand plover species in 1998, and 269 Eastern Curlew in 1993.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata resident  1984-1991  394,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Pied Heron Egretta picata unknown  1990-2000  1,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes non-breeding  1990-2000  560 individuals  medium  A4i  Near Threatened 
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris non-breeding  1990-2000  14,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
unset
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Melaleuca forests & woodlands  major
Shrubland Chenopod shrubs, samphire shrubs and forblands  major
Coastline Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Mangrove wetlands  major
Wetlands (inland) Riverine floodplains  major

Land ownership Delissaville/Wagait/Larrakia ALT

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
other major
Notes: Traditional Use

Access/Land-Owner requests This IBA is on Traditionally Owned land.

References Chatto, R. (2000a) Waterbird breeding colonies in the Top End of the Northern Territory. Technical Report 69, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Palmerston.

Chatto, R. (2000b) A management strategy and protected areas system for coastal wildlife. (Documentation of selected sites in the Northern Territory of Australia which would qualify for nomination under the East Asian - Australasian Shorebird Site Network). Unpublished report, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Palmerston.

Chatto, R. (2003) The distribution and status of shorebirds around the coast and coastal wetlands of the Northern Territory. Technical Report 73, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Palmerston.

Chatto, R. (2006) The distribution and status of waterbirds around the coast and coastal wetlands of the Northern Territory. Technical Report 76, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Palmerston.

DEWHA (2008) Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia(NT025). http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/environmental/wetlands/database/ accessed 2008.

Harrison, L., McGuire, L., Ward, S. Fisher, A., Pavey, C., Fegan, M. and Lynch, B. (2009) An inventory of sites of international and national significance for biodiversity values in the Northern Territory. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts & Sport, Darwin, NT.

Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory (2007) Management program for the magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata) in the Northern Territory of Australia. Unpublished report: Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Palmerston.

Ward, S. and Harrison, L. (2009) Recognising sites of conservation significance for biodiversity values in the Northern Territory. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts & Sport, Darwin, NT.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Fog Bay and Finniss River Floodplains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/12/2014

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