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Location Australia, South Australia,Victoria
Central coordinates 141o 13.29' East  38o 10.74' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 10,121 ha
Altitude 0 - 15m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA provides non-breeding habitat for the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, breeding habitat for the endangered Australasian Bittern, and supports populations of the near threatened Hooded Plover, the restricted-range Rufous Bristlebird and the biome-restricted Striated Fieldwren.

Site description The IBA extends along the coast from Green Point in South Australia to eastern Bridgewater Bay in Victoria. It includes the wetland along the drain to Green Point, Pick Swamp, Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, a small parcel of private land to the north of Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park, and Discovery Bay Coastal Park east to the end of Discovery Bay (the remaining sections along Bridgewater Bay and Nelson Bay only support Rufous Bristlebirds amongst the key bird species). The most prominent ecological community in the IBA is coastal scrub, which is dominated in most places by emergent Moonah, and is otherwise comprised of medium-sized shrubs (e.g. Coast Wattle, Coast Beard-heath, Seaberry Saltbush and Coast Daisy-bush) above a ground cover of grasses, herbs and sedges. The IBA includes a long stretch of exposed sandy beaches and sand dunes. The IBA also includes the Glenelg River estuary, Long Swamp and other freshwater swamps, some small permanent freshwater lakes and pools, and some small patches of herb-rich eucalypt woodland. Piccaninnie Ponds contain clear water upwelling from limestone aquifers.

Key Biodiversity Discovery Bay supports regionally important numbers of Sanderling with a count of 2000 in 2006 (Christie 2006). Small numbers of Little Terns nest at the mouth of the Glenelg River (Christie 2006). The Bush Stone-curlew is rare to uncommon in the IBA (Emison et al. 1987). The vulnerable Fairy Tern and near threatened Flame Robin are occasionally recorded in the IBA but no counts are available for either species (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: Discovery Bay Coastal Park supports 66 species (23 species of flora and 43 species of fauna) which are considered to be threatened in Victoria, including nine species that are nationally threatened and 14 species that are listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. One species, the Coast Gum, is restricted in Victoria to Discovery Bay Coastal Park. Discovery Bay Conservation Park is considered to be of high conservation value to 15 species, including seven that are listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Parks Victoria 2000).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus resident  2007-2008  2-3 breeding pairs  A1  Endangered 
Hooded Plover Thinornis cucullatus resident  2000-2006  15-51 individuals  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster non-breeding  1979-2007  17 individuals  A1, A3  Critically Endangered 
Rufous Bristlebird Dasyornis broadbenti resident  1998-2008  frequent  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Striated Fieldwren Calamanthus fuliginosus resident  1998-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases 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)  
Discovery Bay Marine National Park 2,770 protected area overlaps with site 0  
Discovery Bay Coastal Park Other Park 10,460 protected area overlaps with site 9,170  
Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park 547 protected area contained by site 543  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Other shrublands  major
Coastline Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats  minor
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes & pools  minor

Land ownership South Australian and Victorian State governments (Parks Victoria, Department for Environment and Heritage) and private holdings.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
urban/industrial/transport minor

Protection status Several - see separate section.

Acknowledgements Bob Green, Glenn Ehmke and Grainne Maguire helped provide data and background information.

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

DEWHA (2008) A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. accessed June 2008

Emison, W. B., Beardsell, C. M., Norman, F. I., Loyn, R. H. and Bennett, S.C. (1987) Atlas of Victorian Birds. Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands and Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Melbourne.

Parks Victoria (2000) State of the Parks 2000. Volume 2 - Park Profiles. Parks Victoria Melbourne.

Parks Victoria (2006) Discovery Bay Parks (Mount Richmond National Park, Cape Nelson State Park and Discovery Bay Coastal Park) and Cape Nelson Lighthouse Reserve Management Plan. Parks Victoria Melbourne.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Discovery Bay to Piccaninnie Ponds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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