Updated: Apr 12
St Peters Billabong is a hidden gem located within St Peters Park, adjacent to the Torrens Linear Park. It lies between the River Torrens, eighth Avenue and River Street at St Peters. This urban wetland (previously a dump), has been carefully restored and rehabilitated, and is now home to many native birds, insects, and reptiles. The habitat of the area consists of River Red Gums, Desert Ash, and a Chilean Pepper Tree.
The Friends of the Billabong group, who co-hosted our event on the 4th of March, 2023, were involved in the rehabilitation of this wetland, so we were fortunate to be accompanied by representatives of the group. While the weather was pleasant, it was a little cool for the Eastern Water Skink, which is the most commonly observed species in the park. Although there were several water birds, the numbers also seemed to be lower than previously seen.
Prior to our visit, 200 species had been recorded within the St Peters Billabong project boundaries on iNaturalist. However, at the time of writing, this had increased to an impressive 231 species, representing a 15.5% increase from the previous total!
Explore St Peters Billabong through the iNaturalist Project
The walk was truly fascinating. The Friends of the Billabong generously shared their knowledge about the restoration work they have been doing to preserve the billabong and explained its important contribution to the biodiversity of the park.
Ferox australis also introduced the concept of utilizing the Citizen Science platform iNaturalist to monitor and record the success of their rehabilitation efforts. This is important because while revegetation projects clearly increase biodiversity in our parks, simply stating this is not enough. Data is required! Therefore, the impact of these restoration projects needs to be recorded, verified, and monitored - and iNaturalist is an easy, effective and accurate method for achieving this.
Globally, the iNaturalist platform has been employed to collect data on revegetation and restoration projects and to engage the public and increase awareness of the importance of these projects.
During our two-hour excursion at St Peter's Billabong we recorded 79 nature observations of 47 species including a male Radumeris tasmaniensis (recorded by Ken Hurley), commonly known as the Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp. This is a strikingly beautiful and relatively large species of wasp. As its name suggests, the Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp is covered in dense yellow hairs, which give it a distinctive and eye-catching appearance.
The Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp is found throughout much of eastern Australia, from southern Queensland to Victoria and Tasmania. It is typically found in woodlands, forests, and other natural habitats, where it feeds on nectar and pollen from a variety of flowering plants.
Despite its relatively wide distribution, the Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp is not commonly encountered, and it is considered to be a relatively rare and elusive species. In fact, there are only around 135 verifiable records of this species in Australia on iNaturalist, making it a particularly noteworthy find! The larva stage of this species are ectoparasites of carabaeid larvae (and occasionally Curculionidae larvae ).
The specimen of Radumeris tasmaniensis (above) that was recorded during the excursion in St Peters Park is particularly interesting, as it represents the first record of this species in the park. This highlights the importance of citizen science and the use of platforms like iNaturalist for monitoring and recording biodiversity, as it allows for the detection of rare and previously unrecorded species in specific areas.
The discovery of this species in St Peters Park also suggests that the park is providing a suitable habitat for the Yellow Hairy Flower Wasp, which is an encouraging sign for conservation efforts in the area. It is also worth noting that the discovery of this species serves as a reminder of the incredible diversity of life that can be found in even small urban parks and green spaces.
Another great find was a Euthera skusei a species of fly belonging to the family Tephritidae recorded by Karen Weaving. They are also commonly known as fruit flies, although they are not to be confused with the Drosophila melanogaster, which is a common fruit fly species. Euthera skusei is a relatively small fly, usually measuring around 3-4mm in length, and they have a brownish-black body with a yellowish-brown head.
Euthera skusei recorded by © Karen Weaving, some rights reserved (CC-BY-NC)
Flies of the genus Euthera are known to be a host for stink bugs (Cantrell 1983), which are insects that emit a foul odor as a defense mechanism. The stink bugs belonging to the family Pentatomidae are, interestingly, found in association with Euthera skusei . The fact that Euthera skusei was observed in St Peters Billabong is significant because it suggests that the park is home to a healthy population of flies, which in turn could support populations of stink bugs and other insects.
The observation of Euthera skusei in St Peters Billabong is also important from a conservation perspective. The fact that this species has been recorded in only six locations on the iNaturalist platform highlights the rarity of this species, and underscores the importance of preserving its habitat. By monitoring the populations of Euthera skusei and other insects in the park, conservationists can gain a better understanding of the health of the ecosystem and take steps to protect it.
If you're interested, check out examples of iNaturalist used in restoration projects such as
Strolling through the lush vegetation, participants of this event learned about the importance of biodiversity, conservation, and the role of citizen science in monitoring and protecting our local ecosystems. This guided walk was educational and enriching and deepened participants' appreciation for nature. Perhaps it even inspired some of them to become advocates for the environment?
If you haven't visited St Peters Billabong, it makes a great nature outing. And it's located right in the inner city, so you don't need to travel far to recharge.
Lastly, if you enjoy the place, please consider joining the Friends of the Billabong or helping them out on one of their working days.
The aim of FOB is to help conserve the unique native habitat of St Peters Billabong by offering hands-on assistance including planting, weed eradication and watering.
Working bees are held on-site once a month on the third Sunday of the month.
For more information and to register your interest, visit: Friends of the Billabong
This event was funded by the Rotary Club of St Peters.
If you want to get involved in more citizen science activities on iNaturalist please consider joining the "City Nature Challenge" held each year in April, or the Great southern Bioblitz in November.
or check out all our local Bioblitz projects
This is the new sign to be installed at the Billabong