Reprieve from the drought: Copley Retention Dam

After 3 years of drought, the thriving bird haven of the Copley Retention Dam had almost completely evaporated. Flooding summer rains in the Northern Flinders Ranges replenished the dam overnight.

Throughout the flood / drought cycle, Copley Retention Dam is supporting over 70 recorded bird species, many of which are profiled on the Flinders Ranges Field Naturalists site including birds classified as Rare by the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act, such as

  • Musk Duck
  • Blue-billed Duck
  • Australasian Darter
  • Elegant Parrot
  • Great Crested Grebe.
Retention Dam in drought
Retention Dam in flood

Nankeen Night Heron

A rare glimpse of a Nankeen Night Heron in the Northern Flinders Ranges. Not usually seen in arid inland areas, these elusive nomads follow the rains. This adult flew into Copley from the south in the early evening for a brief transit stop. A distinct call signaled the arrival of a further three Nankeen Night Herons to the location around sunset. They were well hidden in the high foliage of a eucalyptus tree and are not generally sighted during the daylight hours. Arriving just days after a flood summer throughout the Flinders Ranges, Nankeen Night Herons feed on crustaceans, fish, amphibians, and insects in shallow waters such as the nearby Retention Dam.

Dust Devil

Also known as Willy Willies, Dust Devils are a common site around the Flinders Ranges. The Bureau of Meteorology define the phenomena as

A localised dust filled vortex similar in shape to a tornado but of much less strength. They differ from dust storms in that they are a more localised and short-lived event. They form due to intense heating at the surface causing a rapid upward movement of parcel of air. This displacement of the surface air causes an inward movement of surrounding air, creating the common spiral shape of the dust devil. Dust devils are generally small in size compared with tornadoes, being about 3-100m in diameter and up to 300m high. Wind speeds inside the vortex reach a maximum of 100km/hr.

Dust Devil near Copley

Bristly Sea-heath

Also known as the Clustered Sea-heath, Frankenia serpyllifolia grows about 30cm in heavy clays and gibber plains, seen here flowering in October near Copley in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Flinders Ranges from the air

Druid Range, south east of Wilpena Pound
Elder Range and Red Range, south west of Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound from the south
Ediowie Gorge, west side of Wilpena Pound
Heyson Range (left) and parallel ABC Range running north-south on the north side of Wilpena Pound
North east side of Wilpena Pound
Rawnsley Bluff, east side of Wilpena Pound