Adelaide bird sanctuary at southern end of great global east Asian- Australasian flight path

Adelaide international bird sanctuary is a southern home for incredible aviators like the eastern curlew, bar-tailed godwit and great knot. 
Image courtesy Adelaide international bird sanctuary

A 60-kilometre stretch of northern suburban coastline – Adelaide international bird sanctuary, with abundant estuarine mudflats – is the southern end of the east Asian-Australasian flyway, one of the world’s three great migratory bird flight paths.

With at least 52 shorebird species recorded, including 37 migratory summer visitors, the bird sanctuary is important globally. Around 15,000 shorebirds gather at the Adelaide sanctuary for up to six months yearly before their return journey to breeding grounds in places like China and Siberia. This includes incredible aviators like the eastern curlew, bar-tailed godwit and great knot.

Adelaide sanctuary is a key feeding and roosting site for migratory birds from as far as Siberia and Alaska, passing through 22 countries. It is part of an international network of wetlands, such as Mai Po Nature Reserve in northern Hong Kong, bordering the Chinese city of Shenzhen, where birds going north from Australia stop to rest and feed.

One of Adelaide’s longest continuous conservation areas, the bird sanctuary is home to 263 fauna and flora species, including significant Australian birds such as the elegant parrot and Gulf St Vincent slender-billed thornbill.

Within the sanctuary sits the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park or Winaityinaityi Pangkara (“a country for all birds and the country that surrounds these birds”’ in the Kaurna Aboriginal language). In 2017, with private donors’ support, The Nature Conservancy Australia helped secure the national park from 85 hectares of the saltfields area. From the 1930s, 10,000 hectares of the larger area, from Dry Creek to Middle Beach, was given to mineral leases to mainly ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) to create 4,000 hectares of saline ponds to produce salt. This ended in 2013 when ICI’s Penrice soda ash factory closed at Osborne. This presents chances to use the land to recover coastal habitat loss but with the costly challenge to remedy it.

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