Derby overflow threat

Subject: Derby overflow threat
From: "Australian Ornithological Services P/L" <>
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 12:33:22 +1100
Dear Birders

I was in Derby (WA) in September and took in the sewage overflow. This area holds many treasures for birders ­ a fact I hadn¹t fully appreciated before my recent visit. The ponds are not significant but the overflow at the back, forming a freshwater marsh,  is magnificent. There¹s about seven hectares of Cumbungi, shallow mudflats and rushes and it is alive with waders and waterbirds. There were different birds present on the three occasions I visited.

The area is close to a huge area of mudflats, and being right on the migration route for thousands of migratory waders must be a magnet for migratory species. Good numbers of Wood Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint, Little Curlew, Marsh Sandpiper and smaller numbers of Australian Pratincole, Red-kneed Dotterel and one Ruff were present. However, our pièce-de-résistance was a Baird¹s Sandpiper observed at close range for about 20 minutes. This record (if accepted) I believe will be the first for NW Australia and the first for Australia for several years.

The area is not only good for rare waders ? there was at least 5 Yellow Chats which may have bred at this locality as juveniles were present.

More mundane but still good to see were Spotless and Spotted Crakes, Buff-banded Rail and Brolga. Some of the local birders told me they had 4 species of crake there last summer! ?the above plus Ballions and White-browed. Since my visit, an Asiatic Dowitcher has been recorded.

The downside of all this is that the Derby Shire is about to destroy the area ?by utilizing the water to green the golf course. The area of marsh is to be reduced from 7 hectares to 1 hectare. So not only are we losing our natural wetlands in Australia, we are losing our important artificial ones as well.

Anyone interested in voicing their concern about the loss of this area should write to Philip Andrew, CEO, Shire of Derby, West Kimberley P.O. Box 94, Derby 6728, email: <>  with a copy to the tourist officer: Pam Masters at the Derby Tourist Bureau, P.O. Box 48, Derby 6728, email:
Deby Tourist Bureau <>


Philip Maher

Australian Ornithological Services
P.O. Box 385
South Yarra 3141 Victoria Australia
telephone: (61) 3 98204223
fax: (61) 3 98204223
e mail:

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