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Location Australia, Victoria
Central coordinates 144o 26.68' East  38o 13.22' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 4,564 ha
Altitude
Year of IBA assessment 2008

BirdLife Australia



Summary The wetlands support significant numbers of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, the endangered Australasian Bittern and more than 1% of the world population of Chestnut Teal, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Banded Stilt.

Site description The Bellarine Wetlands IBA consists of a number of neighbouring wetland sites on the Bellarine Peninsula near Geelong in coastal Victoria. These are the Moolap salt fields, adjacent intertidal mudflats in Corio Bay and Point Henry, and the extensive wetlands of Reedy Lake, Hospital Swamp and Lake Connewarre. Reedy Lake is the largest freshwater swamp in central Victoria (at approximately 550 ha) and is contiguous with Hospital Swamp, Lake Connewarre, Salt Swamp (Big Marsh) and the Barwon River estuary. Nearby areas of regional significance for birds which don't make the IBA criteria include coastal beaches at Black Rocks (up to eight Hooded Plovers), the Breamlea estuary (a small separate population of shorebirds) and Belmont Common (up to 400 Latham's Snipe 1979-1982, then regularly over 100 until 1996, when 1000 estimated to use the site over the season, since when it has been too dry with max 88 in 2002 and 25 in 2005). Some birds move freely between these sites; other birds occur at just one site. Moolap is a commercial salt works and much of Point Henry is occupied by an aluminum smelter; the other wetlands are State Game Reserves. Reedy Lake is managed to maintain wetland health, with occasional drying out to kill off Eurasian Carp. Reedy is freshwater whereas Connewarre, Hospital Swamp and Moolap are salty. The Reedy Lake-Lake Connewarre system is within the Port Phillip Bay and Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar site.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Chestnut Teal Anas castanea non-breeding  1981-2007  1,200 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus resident  1981-2008  12 individuals  medium  A1  Endangered 
Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus non-breeding  1981-2007  5,000 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis non-breeding  1981-2007  2,205-12,310 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata non-breeding  1981-2007  541-5,591 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster non-breeding  1981-2007  12 individuals  good  A1  Critically Endangered 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lake Connewarre Natural Features Reserve - Wildlife Reserve (hunting) 3,707 protected area contained by site 3,707  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Salt marshes; Sand cays, islets & bars  minor
Wetlands (inland) Permanent herbaceous swamps & bogs; Saline lakes; Salt marshes  major

Land ownership Moolap Saltworks is a private, commercial salt production facility owned by Cheetham Salt Pty Ltd. The adjacent intertidal areas in Corio Bay are Crown Land. Lake Connewarre and Reedy Lake are State Game Reserves managed by Parks Victoria.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
Notes: Lake Connewarre, Reedy Lake and the land between Lake Connewarre and Salt Lake are Wildlife Reserves
hunting minor
Notes: Lake Connewarre and Reedy Lake are a State Game Reserve
rangeland/pastureland minor
Notes: Grazing abuts and overlaps with some wetlands on the lower Barwon River
urban/industrial/transport major
Notes: Moolap Saltworks

Other biodiversity Lake Connewarre contains the most extensive example of Wilsonia herblands and Distichlis grassland in the State of Victoria. Grey Glasswort and Tangled Lignum reach their southern limit within the Lake Connewarre Reseve and the White Mangrove (Avecinnia marina ssp.australasica) reaches its westernmost limit in Victoria in the Barwon River estuary.

Access/Land-Owner requests Moolap Saltworks is private land and access requires permission of the landowner, Cheetham Salt in Geelong. Much of Hospital Swamp is on private land and access requires permission of the landowner.

Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by Kevin Wood.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

References Australasian Wader Studies Group biannual shorebird counts (1981-2007).

Dedman, V., McCarthy, G., Pescott, T. and Hewish, M. (1998). The Birds of Belmont Common and Jerringot Wildlife Reserve. In the Geelong Bird Report 1997: 51-66.

Department of Sustainability and Environment (2003). Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) & Bellarine Peninsula Ramsar Site. Strategic Management Plan, Victoria.

Geelong Field Naturalists Club (1997-2007). Geelong Bird Reports 1996-2006.

Hewish, M., Pescott, T., Cameron, M., Mackenzie, R. and Russell, P. (1999) The Birds of Point Henry and Moolap saltworks. In the Geelong Bird Report 1998: 57-84.

Mackenzie, R. Pescott, T. and Hewish, M. (2006). The Birds of Reedy Lake, Geelong. In the Geelong Bird Report.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bellarine Wetlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/07/2014

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