Strzelecki Desert Lakes

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
The Strzelecki Desert Lakes IBA is comprised of a chain of lakes on lower Cooper Creek and Strzelecki Creek in north-east South Australia. The IBA is defined here as the maximum extent of the ephemerally flooded Cooper Creek floodplain from Lakes Hope (or Pando) and Appadare to Lakes Killalpaninna, Kooperamanna and Killamperpunna, and also Lake Gregory, Lake Blanche and Lake Callabonna. The creek systems flood irregularly but water persists in these lakes for several years (e.g. after a flood in 2000, Lake Hope remained wet until 2004). The lakes vary in their salinity. Cooper Creek is probably the longest and most important dryland river in Australia and one of the largest endorheic catchments in the world. Kingsford et al. (1999) estimated a total of 100,000 waterbirds in the Lower Cooper system in 1990-91 in addition to 50,000 unidentified small waders on Lake Blanche. The IBA partially overlaps with Strzelecki Regional Reserve.

Key biodiversity
There was an unverified report of three Night Parrots at Lake Walpayapeninna in 1986 (Badman 1989). The region supports small numbers of the near threatened Letter-winged Kite (rare to uncommon; Cox and Pedler 1977; Badman 1989), Grey Falcon (rare; Badman 1989; Barrett et al. 2003), Australian Bustard (generally uncommon; Badman 1989) and Bush Stone-curlew (rare to uncommon; Badman & May 1983; Badman 1989; Atlas of Australian Birds database). The Pied Cormorant is moderately common to common and was observed in flocks of 1000+ at Lake Hope, 500-600 at Lakes Kopperamanna and Killalpaninna and in smaller numbers at other lakes in 1978 (Badman 1989) and 2006, on the Lower Cooper in 1991 (Kingsford et al. 1999). The Black Swan is abundant when conditions are favourable, such as 3410 estimated at Lake Blanche in 1991 (Kingsford et al. 1999) and 1000 at Lake Kopperamanna in 1985 (Badman 1989) and 3774 on the Lower Cooper in 1990 (Kingsford et al. 1999). Counts of Australian Wood Duck include 2869 on the Lower Cooper and 2805 on Lake Blanche in 1991 (Kingsford et al. 1999), and 1489 at Lake Hope in 1990 (Badman 1989; Kingsford & Porter 1992). A count of 1840 Chestnut Teal at Lake Walpayapeninna in 1992 (Kingsford unpubl. data). The Black-tailed Native-hen is moderately common to abundant and occurs in large numbers after flooding, such as many thousands at Lake Killamperpunna in 1977 (Badman 1979) and 3635 on the Lower Cooper in 1990 (Kingsford et al. 1999). 45,728 Eurasian Coots were counted in 1990 (Kingsford et al. 1999). The Black-fronted Dotterel is common and widespread, with 100+ birds observed at the lower end of Cooper Creek in 1977 (Badman 1979, 1989; Badman and May 1983). The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper is moderately common when conditions are favourable and can occur in large numbers on lakes and floodwaters, such as 1000 at Lake Killamperpunna in 1977 (Badman 1979), 500 at Lake Appadare in 1979, hundreds at Lake Hope in 1980 (Badman and May 1983) and up to 500 at Lake Kopperamanna in 1985 (Badman 1989).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Cattle may erode banks around waterholes, but the impacts of grazing on arid-zone wetlands and their biodiversity have not been systematically investigated.

Protected areas
The IBA overlaps with the Strzelecki Regional Reserve.

Land ownership
Strzelecki Regional Reserve is managed by the Department for Environment and Heritage. The remaining land is under pastoral lease.

Richard Kingsford provided access to unpublished data.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Strzelecki Desert Lakes. Downloaded from on 04/12/2022.