email a friend
printable version
Location Australia, Northern Territory
Central coordinates 135o 20.35' East  14o 48.78' South
IBA criteria A2, A4i
Area 223,378 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia



Summary The intertidal mudflats of Limmen Bight support more than 1% of the world's Grey-tailed Tattler and Great Knot. The coastal saline flats support more than 1% of the world's Black-winged Stilt.

Site description The IBA comprises the coastline from the Roper River to the Limmen Bight (for the shorebirds on intertidal flats) and the inland swamps south of the Roper River (which have large numbers of Black-winged Stilts) to the National Park boundary. The wetlands north of the Roper River are also important for birds but do not qualify for IBA status on current data. The main habitats are wide intertidal mudflats, scattered low samphire shrubland on otherwise bare coastal flats, and small areas (fringing channels) of low closed mangroves.

Key Biodiversity The IBA has supported up to 3038 near threatened Black-tailed Godwit (DEWHA 2008). A waterbird nesting colony near the mouth of the Roper River had about 2500 waterbirds including egrets, Pied Heron and cormorants (Chatto 2000 ref W055). At least ten other waterbird/seabird breeding rookeries also exist within the site, including the largest Pied Cormorant rookery (more than 2000 adults) and largest Little Tern (up to 100 nests) breeding colony in the Northern Territory. Other breeding colonies support large numbers of birds, including 10,000 Crested Tern and 5000 Roseate Tern. The highest number of shorebirds recorded over the site was 29,106 in April 1990; 24,938 were on mudflats north of Spillen Creek (i.e. mainly near Port Roper), the remainder were south of Spillen Creek. A total of 27,742 shorebirds for most of the site was recorded in February 1983; other counts have been below 5000 (DEWHA 2008; Chatto 2000; Chatto 2003; Chatto 2006). Sightings recorded in the Atlas of Australian Birds for 1998 to 2008 suggest the IBA supports small populations of the near threatened Australian Bustard and four tropical savanna biome-restricted species.

Non-bird biodiversity: High densities (> 5/km2) of dugong occur offshore between Limmen Bight River and Rosie Creek (seagrass beds), both in the Wet and the Dry. Medium densities of Saltwater Crocodile Crocodylus porosus occur in the Roper River estuary. Marine turtles (mix of species not yet described) use nest sites on offshore islands associated with the site (DEWHA 2008).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Chestnut Rail Eulabeornis castaneoventris resident  frequent  A2  Least Concern 
Himantopus leucocephalus resident  1990-2006  14,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Not Recognised 
Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes non-breeding  1990-2002  500 individuals  poor  A4i  Near Threatened 
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris non-breeding  1983  21,400 individuals  poor  A4i  Vulnerable 

IBA Monitoring

2008 medium not assessed not assessed
unset
Poor - based on little, or potentially unreliable/unrepresentative, data

Agricultural expansion and intensification marine and freshwater aquaculture - industrial aquaculture likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Limmen National Park 1,239,041 protected area overlaps with site 28,900  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Chenopod shrubs, samphire shrubs and forblands  minor
Coastline Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Mangrove wetlands  major

Land ownership Arnhemland and Marra ALT; may also include some of Saint Vidgeon, Nathan River and Lorella pastoral leases.

Land use

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

Protection status THe IBA overlaps the Limmen National Park.

Access/Land-Owner requests This IBA is on Traditionally Owned land and private grazing properties.

References Chatto, R. (2000) 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. (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 (Tidal Wetlands System - NT007). http://www.environment.gov.au/water/publications/environmental/wetlands/database/ accessed 2008.

Garnett, S. (1983) Report on the fifth aerial survey of migratory wading birds between Weipa and Millingimbi. The Stilt 4: 15-17.

Garnett, S. (1987) Aerial surveys of waders (Aves: Charadriiformes) along the coast of north-eastern Australia. Australian Wildlife Research 14: 521-528.

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.

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.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Limmen Bight. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/12/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife