Port McArthur Tidal Wetlands System

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
This IBA comprises the intertidal mudflats around Port McArthur along the Gulf of Carpentaria coast from Mule Creek (east of Bing Bong homestead) eastwards to an unnamed tidal creek about 30 km east of Pelican Spit. It includes the immediately coastal saline wetlands but not the extensive inland wetlands, which were "not observed to have large numbers of shorebirds" (Chatto 2003). The intertidal mudflats are up to 5 km wide (widest near river mouths) and connect across the South-West Island of the Sir Edward Pellew group.

Key biodiversity
The near threatened Great-billed Heron occurs in the greatest densities recorded in extensive coastal surveys in the Northern Territory. Small numbers of the near threatened Beach Stone-curlew occur. Little Tern breeds at a small number of sites along the coast. At least two substantial waterbird breeding rookeries supporting a total of more than 3000 adult birds (egrets, cormorants and Pied Herons). The highest number of shorebirds counted was 27,500 in 50-75% of the potential shorebird habitat in October 1996 (Chatto 2003) including 1600 sand plover species, 1500 Curlew Sandpipers, 4000 knot species, 1094 Marsh Sandpipers (Chatto 2000b). A total of 10,000 shorebirds counted in aerial surveys in 2007 included an estimated 2200 Great Knot (Garnett & Coe 2007). Significant numbers of Black-tailed Godwit have been reported with a maximum count of 5230 in October 1996 (Chatto 2000b; 2003) and 1855 estimated from aerial surveys in August 2007 (Garnett & Coe 2007). Non-waterbird species recorded at the site include White-gaped Honeyeater and Australian Yellow White-eye (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Further research is needed to assess the threats to the site and the recommended management actions, but these are likely to include actions to mitigate the impacts of sea-level rises.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The Port McArthur Tidal Wetlands System is listed as nationally significant wetland in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DEWHA 2008). The area is also classified as a site of conservation significance by the Northern Territory Government (Harrison et al. 2009; Ward & Harrison 2009).

Land ownership
Traditional and private ownership.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Port McArthur Tidal Wetlands System. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/07/2020.