A new 10-hectare conservation area is being created within Myponga Reservoir Reserve to improve the habitat and provide sanctuary for some of the Fleurieu’s most threatened wetlands birds.

More than 14,000 seedlings have been planted as part of the initiative so far, with customised marker buoys deployed to establish the area at the eastern end of the reservoir and fencing installed to protect the young plants from kangaroos.

SA Water’s Vegetation Services Specialist Shaun Kennedy said the project is also about encouraging certain endangered bird species – not seen in the area for years – to return.

“Preserving the unique flora and fauna at our reservoir reserves remains essential, as people enjoy these spaces for recreational activities,” Shaun said.

“Myponga’s new conservation area is our environmental leadership in action – the reservoir is a haven for bird life and we want to ensure it can continue to provide refuge to native waterbirds, while restoring an important ecological community.

“Working alongside the Department for Environment and Water, and the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board, the project kicked off in 2020 with our team actively working across more than four hectares of the area – planting 12 different species and monitoring existing flora.

“By establishing an ecologically-diverse area, we’re helping maintain healthy breeding populations of around 30 waterbird and woodland bird species, including the Australasian Shoveler, Freckled Duck and Musk Duck.

“Our focus is now on planting six shrub species across an additional four hectares to further enhance foraging habitat and re-establish a threatened plant species – Mount Compass Oak-bush.

“Dense shrubland will create habitat structure and refuge to attract two Nationally Endangered species – the Australasian Bittern, which we’ve only seen one of in the area, as well as the Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu Wren, one of Australia’s smallest birds with a distinctive blue patch at the top of their chest.

“This will remain an active conservation area and we’ll continue working to reconstruct important vegetation to give them every chance to thrive and support Myponga’s birdlife.”

Other rare species like the Blue-billed Duck have been observed at the reservoir, which also prefer to nest and forage in the reeds and rushes of the water’s eastern end.

The project is jointly funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board’s ‘Back From the Brink’ project and SA Water.

Mr Kennedy said there’s plenty of upcoming opportunities for the local community to take part in revegetating the reservoir reserve’s conservation area.

“With the help of volunteers from our dedicated program, from August this year, we’ll be planting more than 3,000 native plant species in the sanctuary, including Mount Compass Oak-bush and Lignum,” Shaun said.

“Our volunteers will play a vital role in fostering a thriving environment for Myponga waterbirds, and we’d love more people to get involved in the program.

“You’ll also have the opportunity to support a range of other conservation initiatives at reservoir reserves around the state, and I’d encourage anyone who might be interested, to join our volunteering community.”

For more information and to register your interest to become a volunteer, visit our webpage.

*Image credit to John Gitsham