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Location Australia, South Australia
Central coordinates 139o 55.58' East  37o 16.57' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i
Area 37,420 ha
Altitude 0 - 25m
Year of IBA assessment 2008

BirdLife Australia



Summary Lake George regularly supports more than 1% of the world population of Red-necked Stint, and often Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Banded Stilt. Lakes Hawdon, Robe and Eliza sometimes support threshold numbers of these species, and of Double-banded Plover. The IBA provides habitat for the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, the endangered Australasian Bittern, the restricted-range Rufous Bristlebird and the biome-restricted Striated Fieldwren.

Site description This IBA consists of the larger south-east coastal lakes of South Australia, namely Lakes Hawdon, Robe, Eliza, St Clair and George. The IBA extends for 1 km inland of each lake as these fields and grasslands are sometimes used by Orange-bellied Parrots. These are the most important of a system of lakes in the inter-dunal corridors between current and historical sand dunes, from Paranki Lagoon close to the southern Coorong to Lake Bonney (SE), northwest of Port MacDonnell. Lake Hawdon is a shallow semi-permanent brackish lake divided by a road on a bank into northern and southern basins. At their maximum extents, the northern basin is 6 km by 6 km and the southern basin is 9 km by 4.5 km but the maximum water depth is usually 1 m and both are often dry. Lake Hawdon regularly supports threshold numbers of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Lake Robe is much smaller. Lake Eliza is a hypersaline coastal lake with a maximum depth of 1.4 m; it has local water inflows and loses water through evaporation. Lake Eliza regularly supports threshold numbers of Banded Stilt. Lake St Clair is similar to Eliza but even more saline. Lake George is about 13 km by 8 km, has a maximum depth of 3.5 m, and was naturally hypersaline but now functions as an estuary with water inflows, from Drain M and an outlet to the sea. Lake Hawdon South is unallotted crown land with a proposal to designate it as a Conservation Park and possibly a Ramsar site. Further surveys may indicate that Two Lakes and Lake Wooley, pristine wetlands close to Lake George, should also be included in the IBA, as might the sand dune system grasslands between the lakes and the sea, which have occasionally supported Orange-bellied Parrots, and adjacent beaches and small offshore islands from Baudin Rocks to Cowrtie Island, which irregularly support breeding Fairy Terns.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus unknown  1998-2008  uncommon  A1  Endangered 
Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus non-breeding  2000-2008  60,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Double-banded Plover Charadrius bicinctus non-breeding  2004-2005  600 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis non-breeding  2000-2008  3,645-9,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata non-breeding  1999-2008  6,440 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster non-breeding  1990-2007  6 individuals  medium  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Rufous Bristlebird Dasyornis broadbenti resident  1998-2008  uncommon  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Striated Fieldwren Calamanthus fuliginosus resident  1998-2008  frequent  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Beachport Conservation Park 875 protected area overlaps with site 641  
Lake Robe Game Reserve 406 protected area contained by site 404  
Lake St Clair Conservation Park 189 protected area contained by site 189  
Little Dip Conservation Park 2,150 protected area overlaps with site 496  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Improved grassland & pasture  minor
Grassland Hummock grasslands  minor
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes & pools  major

Land ownership Lakes are State or local government but surrounding land includes private land.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research minor
rangeland/pastureland major
Notes: Lake Hawdon is grazed when dry.

Protection status Several - see separate section for details. The IBA also contains the sites of Heritage Agreements # 453 and 751.

Access/Land-Owner requests Lake George has many access points but most of the other lakes require access across private land, and land-owner permission is needed to visit.

Acknowledgements Ken Gosbell wrote the nomination. Maureen Christie provided comments. AWSG, Maureen Christie, Ken Gosbell and DEH south-east have organised and undertaken the annual shorebird counts.

References Christie, M. (2006) Wader sites in the lower south east, South Australia. Stilt 50: 259-262.

Gosbell, K., Collins, P. and Christie, M. (2002) Wader surveys in the Coorong & S.E. Coastal Lakes. February 2002. Melbourne: Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report.

Gosbell, K., Collins, P. and Christie, M. (2003) Wader surveys in the Coorong & s.e. coastal lakes. February 2003. Melbourne: Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report.

Gosbell, K. and Christie, M. (2004) Wader surveys in the Coorong & s.e. coastal lakes. January-February 2004. Melbourne: Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report.

Gosbell, K. and Christie, M. (2005) Wader surveys in the Coorong & s.e. coastal lakes. February 2005. Melbourne: Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report.

Gosbell, K. and Christie, M. (2006) Wader surveys in the Coorong & s.e. coastal lakes. January-February 2006. Melbourne: Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report.

Gosbell, K. and Christie, M. (2007) Report on wader surveys in the Coorong & s.e. coastal lakes. February 2007. Melbourne: Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report.

Christie, M. (2006) Wader sites in the lower south east, South Australia. Stilt 50: 259-262.

Taylor, B (2006) Wetland inventory for the lower south east, South Australia. Mount Gambier, South Australia: Department for Environment and Heritage.

Wainwright, P. and Christie, M. (2008) Wader surveys at the Coorong and S.E. Coastal Lakes, South Australia. Stilt 54: 31-47.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Hawdon System. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/07/2014

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