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Location Australia, South Australia
Central coordinates 139o 8.02' East  26o 47.06' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i
Area 268,419 ha
Altitude 15 - 25m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA supports populations of the near threatened Letter-winged Kite, the restricted-range Grey Grasswren and Eyrean Grasswren, and seven species which are restricted to the arid biome. The IBA also periodically supports large numbers of waterbirds when inundated, including more than 1% of the global populations of the congregatory Freckled Duck and Gull-billed Tern and breeding Royal Spoonbill.

Site description This IBA consists of Goyder Lagoon, which is part of the Diamantina floodplain, and it is situated beside the Birdsville Track in South Australia, close to the border with Queensland. Goyder Lagoon is a large ephemeral swamp or intermittent internal delta on the Diamantina River system; especially large floods in the Georgina-Mulligan River system (such as occurred in 2001) may contribute water to the north-western side of Goyder Lagoon via Eyre Creek. The topography is flat, except for some deeply incised and often disconnected anastomosing channel reaches, which feature high banks and levees (sometimes associated with south-east to north-east trending dunes); most of the lagoon proper is dominated by shallow braided micro-channels. The median annual rainfall is 100-150 mm and average summer maximum temperatures are 36-39 Celsius. The IBA includes the floodplain south to the Warbuton Crossing to capture most of the South Australian population of Grey Grasswren. In times of major flood there are waterbirds over the entire wetland system; the largest aggregations are found near the southern side of the lagoon. There are important colonial waterbird breeding sites known from around Goyder Lagoon waterhole and west of Koonchera waterhole. The IBA could be extended to include adjacent sand-dunes which run into the floodplain and support Eyrean Grasswrens. The floodplain receives some water in most years from the Diamantina River, which is less affected by water retention in upstream lakes and swamps than the other Channel Country river systems. The entire IBA is located within the huge Clifton Hills cattle grazing property. A total of 170,000 waterbirds was estimated from aerial surveys in 2002.

Key Biodiversity Goyder Lagoon is the only site in South Australia at which Yellow Chat are known to occur. High counts of waterbirds include an estimated 7714 Little Black Cormorant in 1999 (Kingsford et al. 2000) and 5480 Gull-billed Tern in 1991 (second-highest count 1310 in 1997; Kingsford & Porter 2006). Australian Painted Snipe was seen in 1981 and 2001 near Koonchera waterhole (J. Reid in litt. 2008; A. Black in litt. 2009) and thought to have bred near Koonchera Waterhole in 2002 (Costelloe et al. 2004). In 2000/01, the southern part of the lagoon supported two mixed species breeding colony of waterbirds, the largest such colonies in the South Australian Channel Country, and a smaller colony of Straw-necked Ibis. Estimated numbers of nests/pairs at the Koonchera colony in 2000/01 included 4000 Straw-necked Ibis, 3000 Little Black Cormorant, 1000 Nankeen Night-Heron, 800 Glossy Ibis and smaller numbers of Little Pied, Pied and Great Cormorants, Great and Intermediate Egrets, Australian White Ibis, Australasian Darter, Australian Pelican and White-necked Heron (J. Reid in litt. 2008). The western part of the lagoon tends to be barer and in 2001 during a major flood (i.e. water flowing in from Eyre Creek) this area held hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of migratory shorebirds, primarily smaller species such as sandpipers, but also including Little Curlew. There is a small population of Yellow Chat near Koonchera Waterhole (Black et al. 1983).

Non-bird biodiversity: The nationally vulnerable Kowari occurs at Goyder Lagoon.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Freckled Duck Stictonetta naevosa unknown  1983-2005  3,200 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia breeding  2000-2001  1,350-2,400 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Letter-winged Kite Elanus scriptus resident  2008  uncommon  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Inland Dotterel Peltohyas australis resident  1974-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Sterna nilotica unknown  1983-2005  5,480 individuals  medium  A4i  Not Recognised 
Grey Grasswren Amytornis barbatus resident  1977-2008  frequent  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Eyrean Grasswren Amytornis goyderi resident  1977-2008  frequent  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Black Honeyeater Certhionyx niger resident  1974-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Pied Honeyeater Certhionyx variegatus resident  1974-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Gibberbird Ashbyia lovensis resident  1974-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Banded Whiteface Aphelocephala nigricincta resident  1974-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Chirruping Wedgebill Psophodes cristatus resident  1974-2008  uncommon  A3  Least Concern 
Cinnamon Quail-thrush Cinclosoma cinnamomeum resident  1974-2008  frequent  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - abstraction of surface water (unknown use) likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Desert Semi-desert (includes gibber plains)  minor
Forest Eucalypt woodlands  minor
Wetlands (inland) Ephemeral; Riverine floodplains  major

Land ownership Privately owned by Clifton Hills Pastoral Company.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
rangeland/pastureland 100%

Acknowledgements Lynn Pedler and Andrew Black wrote the nomination. Roger Jaensch provided comments.

References Black, A.B., Duggan, G., Pedler, J.A. and Pedler, L.P. (1983) The Yellow Chat Ephthianura crocea at Pandiburra Bore, north-eastern South Australia. South Australian Ornithologist 29: 42-45.

Costelloe, J.F., Hudson, P.J., Pritchard, J.C., Puckridge, J.T. and Reid, J.R.W. (2004) ARIDFLO Scientific Report: Environmental Flow Requirements of Arid Zone Rivers with Particular Reference to the Lake Eyre Drainage Basin. School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide. Final Report to South Australian Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation and Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service: Hurstville, New South Wales.

Cox, J.B. (1976) Grey Grasswrens and Grass Owls at Goyder's Lagoon, South Australia. South Australian Ornithologist 27: 96-99.

Cox, J.B. (1982) Ornithology of northeastern South Australia. In: Foale, M.R. (ed.) The far north east of South Australia: a biological survey conducted by the Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (Inc.) 2nd-30th August 1975. Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (Inc.): Adelaide.

Cox, J.B. and Pedler, L.P. (1977) Birds recorded during three visits to the far north-east of South Australia. South Australian Ornithologist 27: 231-250.

DEWHA (2008) A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. Diamantina River Wetland System - SA002. accessed August 2008.

Graetz, R.D., Tongway, D.J. and Pech, R.P. (1982) An ecological classification of the lands comprising the southern Simpson Desert and its margins. CSIRO Rangelands Research Centre (Deniliquin) Technical Memorandum 82/2.

Parker, S.A., Eckert, H.J., Ragless, G.B., Cox, J.B. and Reid, N.C.H. (1979) An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of South Australia. Part One: Emus to Spoonbills. South Australian Ornithological Association: Adelaide.

Puckridge, J.T., Reid, J.R.W., Sheldon, F. and Baker, S. (1999) Biological Survey of the Lower Diamantina Floodplain, November 1993. Final Report. A Joint Project of the Conservation Council of South Australia and the South Australian Department of Environment and Planning, funded by the Australian Heritage Commission, Adelaide.

Purdie, R. (1984) Land systems of the Simpson Desert region. Natural Resources Series No. 2. CSIRO: Canberra.

Kingsford, R. and Porter, J. (2006) Eastern Australian aerial survey database. Accessed 2006.

Kingsford, R.T., Porter, J.L., Ahern, A.D. and Davis, S.T. (2000) Aerial surveys of wetland birds in eastern Australia - October 1996-1999. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 31. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service: Hurstville, New South Wales.

Mollemans, F.H., Reid, J.R.W., Thompson, M.B., Alexander, L. and Pedler, L.P. (1984) Appendix S - Biological survey of the Cooper Creek Environmental Association (8.4.4) North Eastern South Australia. South Australian Department of Environment and Planning: Adelaide.

Reid, J. (1988) Birds. In: Reid, J. and Gillen, J. (eds) The Coongie Lakes study. South Australian Department of Environment and Planning: Adelaide.

Reid, J. (1993) Biological survey of Goyders Lagoon, Diamantina River SA, 11/93 - brief report. Unpublished report to Conservation Council of South Australia and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Goyder Lagoon. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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