|Location||Australia, Western Australia|
|Central coordinates||115o 23.94' East 20o 47.27' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3, A4i|
|Altitude||0 - 65m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2008|
Summary The 235 km² Barrow Island supports more than 1% of the global populations of Pied Oystercatcher, Grey-tailed Tattler, Red-necked Stint and Fairy Tern. It is also supports a significant and isolated population of the biome-restricted Spinifexbird, and is the only location for the vulnerable Barrow Island subspecies of White-winged Fairy-wren.
Ornithological information The Barrow Island subspecies of the White-winged Fairy-wren Malurus leucopterus edouardi is endemic, listed as vulnerable (Garnett and Crowley 2000), protected by the Federal EPBC Act, genetically distinct from the mainland Malurus leucopterus leuconotus (Driskell et al. 2002) and has a population of around 7500 birds (Bamford and Bamford 2005). 1708 Common Terns counted in November 2003 and 7300 Roseate Terns counted in September 2004 are more than the 1% of the biogeographic population but it is not known whether the island regularly supports these numbers. A count of 83 Sooty Oystercatcher represents 1.1% of the known population of the distinctive northern race (ophthalmicus) of the species. Counts of Sanderling, Greater Sand Plover and Lesser Sand Plover during the southward migration period (September to November) met the staging criterion (0.25% of a species’ biogeographic population) of the Ramsar Convention. Counts of 4000 Bridled Terns around Double Island in November 2003 may also be locally significant for this species (Bamford and Bamford 2005).
Site description The IBA consists of the whole 235 km² Barrow Island, as the whole island is listed as a Nature Reserve and threats from invasive species must be managed on a whole-island basis. Barrow is 60 km off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia. It is a limestone island with a hot, arid climate and a mean rainfall of about 320 mm pa. Most of the island is low and gently undulating, but on the west coast there are gullies, cliffs and sandy beaches. Hummock grassland dominates the landscape and provides habitat for Spinifexbirds and White-winged Fairy-wrens. Although shorebirds are concentrated in the south-east and south of Barrow Island, significant numbers are present around the entire island except for the 'Upper West' section (Bamford and Bamford 2005).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris||non-breeding||2003-2004||112-362 individuals||good||A4i||Least Concern|
|Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes||non-breeding||2003-2004||429-2,634 individuals||good||A4i||Least Concern|
|Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis||non-breeding||2003-2004||822-7,611 individuals||good||A4i||Least Concern|
|Fairy Tern Sterna nereis||non-breeding||2003-2004||41-1,060 individuals||good||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Spinifexbird Eremiornis carteri||resident||1978-2004||17,800-24,600 individuals||good||A3||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Barrow Island||Nature Reserve||23,483||is identical to site||23,483|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Coastline||Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets||5%|
Land ownership Barrow Island Nature Reserve is Class A Reserve 11648 for "Conservation of Flora and Fauna" vested in the Conservation Commission of Western Australia and managed by the Department of Environment and Conservation. A petroleum lease, owned by Chevron Australia, covers the whole island.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||95%|
Other biodiversity Barrow Island has several mammal taxa listed as threatened and numerous endemic subterranean animals (troglobites and stygobites), some of which are listed as threatened. One endemic troglobitic snake species (the only troglobitic snake in the world) and one endemic skink subpecies also occur on the island. The beaches are regionally-significant rookeries for green turtles (west coast) and flatback turtles (east coast).
Management considerations Disturbance to the shorebirds from people and infrastructure development needs to be minimised. To conserve the terrestrial species, the quarantine management system needs improving, including intensive biological monitoring to detect introduced species before they become widespread.
Protection status Barrow Island Nature Reserve.
Conservation response Mammal monitoring takes place as a joint project between DEC and Chevron Australia. Extensive biological data published as part of the Gorgon project EIS documentation. Chevron maintains an oilfield quarantine system and proposes to improve it if construction of a LNG plant occurs.
Access/Land-Owner requests Access is limited because of Petroleum Production Lease.
Acknowledgements Thanks to Andrew Burbidge as compiler of the nomination and for comments received from Mike Bamford and Cheryl Gole.
References Bamford, M.J. and Bamford, A.R. (2005) Technical Report: Avifauna. Technical Appendix C3 in the draft EIS/ERMP for the proposed Gorgon development. http://www.gorgon.com.au/ 03-man_environment/EIS/Technical Appendix C3.
Driskell, A.C., Pruett-Jones, S., Tarvin, K.A. and Hagevik, S. (2002) Evolutionary relationships among blue-and black-plumaged popuklations of the white-winged fairy-wrens (Malurus leucopterus). Australian Journal of Zoology 50(6): 581-595.
Garnett, S.T. and Crowley, G. M. (2000) The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. Canberra: Environment Australia.
Sedgewick, E.H. (1978) A population study of the Barrow Island avifauna. Western Australian Naturalist 14: 85-108.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Barrow Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2013
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