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Location Australia, Western Australia
Central coordinates 126o 27.45' East  17o 19.50' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 320,668 ha
Altitude 200 - 706m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary IBA supports significant populations of the threatened Red Goshawk and Gouldian Finch, five near threatened species, two more restricted-range species, 12 more tropical savanna biome-restricted species and two arid biome-restricted species.

Site description Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary IBA follows the boundaries of the station, now a Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Pentecost subregion of the Central Kimberley bioregion of north-west Australia. The IBA is identical to the property as it is managed for biodiversity conservation, specifically Gouldian Finches. The adjacent Marion Downs station has recently been acquired for conservation and may be added to the IBA if the new management enables it to support significant numbers of the key birds. The landscape is dominated by massive sandstone mesas and heavily folded sandstone ranges, but also includes low escarpments, volcanic plains, glacial rock pavements, and valleys with deep alluvia. The annual rainfall is about 700 mm per year. Several permanent waterways run through the property, most notably the major tributaries and the upper reaches of the Fitzroy River. The dominant vegetation types on Mornington are various types of tropical savanna - using the Beard classification system, the National Land and Water Resources Audit identified 12 different savanna-based Vegetation Associations on the property. Other ecosystems are embedded within the savanna, including fire-sensitive systems such as riparian systems and Livistona gullies, herb fields on sandstone pavements, Callitris intratropica communities, and sandy seepage areas at the base of sandstone ranges. All of these ecosystems are considered 'at risk' by the NLWR Audit. The bird fauna is a mix of semi-arid rangeland and tropical savanna species.

Key Biodiversity Thus bird diversity is high, with over 195 species recorded here to date. Mornington also has significant numbers of several bird species of conservation significance at state and/or federal level including Square-tailed Kite, Peregrine Falcon and Pictorella Mannikin. The riparian areas have high numbers of raptors, especially Barking Owl, Southern Boobook, Brown Falcon, Grey Goshawk, and Collared Sparrowhawk. Diurnal raptor diversity is high in general, with 20 species recorded out of the 24 listed for Australia. Because Mornington lies between the wetter areas of the north Kimberley, and the drier deserts to the south, some unusual species turn up in reasonable numbers seasonally, including Black Honeyeater, Shining Flycatcher, Hooded Robin and Yellow Chat. The sanctuary also supports small numbers of the near threatened Star Finch and Blue-billed Duck.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary contains 20 species of frog, 65 species of reptile, and at least 29 species of mammal (including 20 non-volant species). These totals grow as more fauna surveys are undertaken. Species of conservation significance include Crocodylus johnstoni (Specially Protected Fauna under WA legislation), Petropseudes dahli and Hydromys chrysogaster (both Priority Fauna under WA legislation), and Dasyurus hallucatus (Endangered under EPBC Act). The list of plant species is continually growing, but currently stands at over 600, including several listed as Priority Flora under WA State legislation, and one plant that is federally listed as vulnerable - Eucalyptus mooreana.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Grey Falcon Falco hypoleucos unknown  2004  2-6 individuals  medium  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Red Goshawk Erythrotriorchis radiatus resident  2004  10-20 individuals  medium  A1  Near Threatened 
Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis resident  2006  250-500 individuals  good  A1  Least Concern 
Chestnut-backed Buttonquail Turnix castanotus resident  2006  100-200 individuals  medium  A1, A2, A3  Least Concern 
Bush Thick-knee Burhinus grallarius resident  2006  250-500 individuals  medium  A1  Least Concern 
White-quilled Rock-pigeon Petrophassa albipennis resident  2006  800-1,200 individuals  medium  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Varied Lorikeet Psitteuteles versicolor non-breeding  2006  5,000-8,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Northern Rosella Platycercus venustus resident  2006  800-1,200 individuals  good  A3  Least Concern 
Purple-crowned Fairywren Malurus coronatus resident  2006  250-350 individuals  good  A3  Least Concern 
White-gaped Honeyeater Lichenostomus unicolor resident  2006  4,000-7,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater Lichenostomus flavescens resident  2006  8,000-12,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Silver-crowned Friarbird Philemon argenticeps resident  2006  4,000-6,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-breasted Honeyeater Ramsayornis fasciatus resident  2006  6,000-10,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Banded Honeyeater Certhionyx pectoralis resident  2006  8,000-12,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Sandstone Shrike-thrush Colluricincla woodwardi resident  2006  150-300 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Poecilodryas superciliosa resident  2006  22-40 individuals  good  A3  Not Recognised 
Spinifexbird Eremiornis carteri resident  2006  100-200 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Gouldian Finch Erythrura gouldiae resident  2006  800-1,200 individuals  good  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Painted Finch Emblema pictum resident  2006  5,000-10,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Masked Finch Poephila personata resident  2006  100-200 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 
Long-tailed Finch Poephila acuticauda resident  2006  10,000-15,000 individuals  medium  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - trend unknown/unrecorded happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Mornington Other Conservation Area 320,668 is identical to site 320,668  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Eucalypt low open forests; Eucalypt woodlands; Rainforest & vine thickets  65%
Grassland Hummock grasslands; Tussock grasslands  30%
Rocky areas Scree & boulders  5%

Land ownership Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary is privately owned and managed by Australian Wildlife Conservancy for conservation purposes.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%

Protection status The IBA is identical to Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary.

Access/Land-Owner requests A small visitor facility enables the public to visit the property, experience its wildlife and wilderness values, and be exposed (through an Interpretation Program) to the threats facing Australia's tropical savanna.

Acknowledgements Sarah Legge wrote the nomination and has helped advise on IBAs across the northern savanna.

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 (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mornington Sanctuary. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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