Department for Environment and Heritage News Release
The Department for Environment and Heritage (DEH) has confirmed that a colony of about 5,000 Banded Stilts is breeding on an island in Lake Eyre National Park in the South Australian outback.
DEH regional ecologist Alex Clarke said it is the first time since 2000 that the water bird species, which is considered vulnerable in South Australia, has bred at Lake Eyre. ???Trevor Wright, who operates an outback charter plane service for tourists, first noticed the colony a few weeks ago,??? he said. ???We really appreciate his help in keeping an eye out for Banded Stilts and other bird species when he???s flying over the area.
???Based on the information Trevor provided, DEH staff flew over Lake Eyre and confirmed the presence of the Banded Stilts, which are currently incubating thousands of eggs.???
???There have been only seven breeding events that have occurred in South Australia in the past 70 years.???
???I estimate that between 6,000 and 7,500 chicks could fledge from the colony, which will provide a much needed boost to the Banded Stilt population.??? Mr Clarke said Banded Stilts can sense when inland salt lakes such as Lake Eyre are filling, and they migrate from their coastal non-breeding habitats, such as the Coorong, to the inland lakes to feast on their preferred food source, brine shrimp, which become abundant during flooding.
???How the Banded Stilts know when inland salt lakes are filling is not well understood,??? he said. ???However, we know that breeding on the lakes is essential if they are to maintain a healthy population. ???There have been only seven breeding events that have occurred in South Australia in the past 70 years.???
???The total population of Banded Stilts in Australia is between 200,000 and 300,000, so breeding events such as the one currently taking place make a significant contribution to the conservation of the species.???
For information about visiting Lake Eyre National Park, go to www.parks.sa.gov.au.