Otway Coast Committee

Committed to Sustainable Management

12th Dec. 2012 - Apollo Bay Hoodie News

The Good and the Bad of being a Hoodie.

hoodie tagging 1We started the season with the best conditions possible; early nestings by 3 then 4 pairs, and then within a matter of weeks 7 chicks; much better than the usual 1, 2 or 3 at most, chicks at once we normally get.

Then the bad, within one week we are back to just 2 chicks after a week that involved a busy weekend on the beach by human visitors after which 3 chicks were lost at the Barham West nest; then a huge tide surge event that rearranged the Barham River mouth beach spit at the East & Mid Barham nest sites; Lost: two chicks and a single egg nest.

Fortunately 'our' best breeders at Wild Dog Creek beach have had both their chicks make it to almost 2 weeks old and they had the great fortune to be visited by the fantastic Hoodie Wranglers from Birdlife Australia.

With the absolute minimal of effort and with very simple tools but a great understanding of their 'clients' Drs Grainne & Meg easily caught one of our Wild Dog Hoodie adults and one chick.

Even better, our adult was the one with a metal leg band, a band placed during the earlier work of Dr Mike Weston.

Shortly we will find out how old the Wild Dog adult is and where it was banded.  We believe from the monitoring work of Judi Forrester that the bird has been nesting at the Wild Dog Creek beach for at least 9 years.  (See Email from Grainne below for further information).

To help the Hoodieshoodie tagging 2

The OCC have installed fencing and signage to alert beach users that vulnerable birds are nesting nearby.

Everyone is asked to follow the signage directions, i.e.

• Don't enter fenced areas;

• Keep dogs on leads at all times;

• Walk at the water's edge;

• Do not stop when near fenced areas.

Hoodies are easily disturbed when incubating eggs and will leave the nest when people, dogs and other threats come within 70-100m of the nest; and will stay off the nest until the threat is gone.  Eggs can easily fail when it is too hot or too cold.

Similarly chicks will hide and not eat for extended periods if people are within 100-150 metres; the result is they can easily starve to death.

That is why to give Hoodies the best chance possible we ask people to keep clear and don't stop in the vicinity of nesting areas.


Email from Grainne...

Thanks to all who made it along to see the Apollo Bay hoodies flagged. It was a very successful trip!  We managed to flag 6 adults in total and 1 chick!

Wild Dog creek:

Adult: 'AW' orange flag, upper right [this bird was a recapture with a metal band only which was captured by Mike Weston as an adult at Pt Franklin near Cape Otway, 17/10/96.  In 1997, seen Apollo Bay and Shelley Beach, it nested at Shelley Beach Dec 97.  After that only one record, from Franklin Rd, Mornington Peninsula National Park 30/3/99.  This makes this bird at least 17 years old!!!]

Chick: metal band only, lower right

Barham River Middle:

Adult 'BP' orange flag, upper right

Adult 'EX' orange flag, upper left

Barham River East:

Adult 'HH' orange flag, upper right

Barham River West:

Adult 'MY' orange flag, upper right

Johanna estuary west side:

Adult 'AJ' orange flag, upper right (after 'A'lbert Park school and 'J'ohanna beach)


On Monday evening we went to Skene's creek and spotted a single bird on the rocks just near the access and then about 60m further west, a pair sitting on the rocks too.  None of them were banded or seemed like they were nesting (there was literally no real beach for them to nest on with tides having been so high recently).

Meg and I checked on the Wild Dog family again on Tuesday arvo and they were all happily feeding at the water's edge about 80m East of the fenced zone.  The chicks looked like they had grown a lot overnight!

We headed to Johanna also and found 5 hoodies in total, 3 being territorial (a pair and an extra bird) just west of the estuary and then just east of the estuary a pair, but no sign of nesting so we think this has failed.  Just as well because despite the very clear signage (great job Parks Vic) a walking group with year 7 students walked clear through the middle of the entire signed zone admist the shelters etc, completely unaware!  We had literally just captured a bird on the western side so invited them over to see it in the hand and let them know about the signed area and what it was for.  The kids loved seeing the bird up close and I think that was a great way to educate the group as it made it all very real and relevant.

Thanks for coming out and it was really great to meet you and also to see how much the sites have changed.

Don't forget to keep updating the portal, even if you visit a site and see no birds (you can tick 'not on territory').  We'll be especially keen to hear of where the flagged birds are seen and to hear that the chicks make it through at Wild Dog!  Feel free to email any time you have questions or see an unusual behaviour, etc.

Grainne Maguire BSc (Hons), PhD
Project Manager - Beach-nesting Birds
BirdLife Australia

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Grainne Maguire | Project Manager - Beach-nesting Birds
B Sc. (Hons), Ph. D.

BirdLife Australia
Suite 2-05, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053
0400 910 761 | T 03 9347 0757 ext 229 | F 03 9347 9323
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ABN 75 149 124 774