Watervalley Wetlands


Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 13,131 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2016 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here


Site description
The Watervalley Wetlands IBA consists of the contiguous wetlands of Mandina Marshes, Cortina Lakes, Mandina Lake, Mrs Whites Lagoon, Caora and South Flagstaff. These wetlands form a chain between relict dune systems inland of the Coorong in the upper south-east of South Australia, approximately 250km south-east of Adelaide. Additional neighbouring wetlands may also qualify as extensions to this IBA but survey data are lacking. Water varies from fresh to saline according to seasonal conditions. The climate is typically Mediterranean with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Annual rainfall averages 450 to 500 mm. The wetlands are dependent on flows of freshwater from the catchment to the south and east, and salinity gradually increases as the water dries back. Drains constructed under the Upper South East Dryland Salinity and Flood Management Program affect the wetlands, and instead of natural flows all future inflows will be managed via the drains. As the region has been in drought since the mid-1990s, the full impact of the drainage scheme on the wetlands is unknown.

Key biodiversity
The wetlands regularly support more than 20,000 waterbirds (DEWHA 2008); these numbers are believed to have been maintained throughout the 2000s. Sixty-seven species (and 37 breeding species) of waterbird have been recorded. Birds of conservation significance which are present at the wetlands but whose numbers do not reach threshold or are not quantified: Australian Little Bittern, Australasian Bittern, Freckled Duck, Australasian Shoveler, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Latham's Snipe, Baillon's Crake, Spotless Crake, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Southern Emu-wren, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Diamond Firetail and Beautiful Firetail. The wetlands support very large (estimated to include more than 7500 nests) breeding colonies of ibis (three species), egrets (two species), both spoonbills and cormorants (two species) (Harper and Weinert 1992). The IBA functions as a valuable drought refuge for waterbirds and supports regionally-important breeding colonies of ibis, egrets, spoonbills and cormorants. Mandina Lake has supported threshold numbers of Chestnut Teal (2500 in 2003) and Banded Stilt (2330 in 2003) when inundated (Gosbell et al. 2003).

Non-bird biodiversity: Red-necked Wallaby and Common Wombat are of interest in that they are at the extreme west of their distribution and are commonly seen. Rosenbergs Goanna is frequently seen and the Southern Bell Frog and Yarra Pygmy Perch were present until the wetlands dried back and salinity increased because of the drought.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Watervalley Wetlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/10/2019.