Otway Coast Committee

Committed to Sustainable Management

20th Dec. 2012 - Hooded Plovers

As reported last week it has not been a good start to the Hoodies breeding season with 7 chicks reduced to 2 within a week.

High tides, lots of people and predators have all probably taken their toll.  Fortunately 'our' best breeders at Wild Dog Creek beach have had both their chicks make it to 2 weeks old.

After the visit by Dr Grainne & Meg from Birdlife Australia last week we ended up with 5 of our adult 8 adult Hoodies being banded and flagged and one of our chicks getting a band.  Hopefully it will live as long as its parent.

One of our adult birds at Wild Dog Creek was found with a metal leg band, a band placed during the earlier work of Dr Mike Weston.  We have since found out the Wild Dog adult was banded by Mike on 17/10/1996 at Point Franklin near Cape Otway.  That means the bird is at least 17 years old!!  It has been sighted a number of times since; notably at Franklin Rd, Mornington Peninsula National Park 30/3/99.  We believe from the monitoring work of Judi Forrester that the bird has been nesting at the Wild Dog Creek beach for at least 10 years.  It is great to see that a 17 year old Hoodie is still actively breeding and all going well has two chicks half way to fledging.

Interestingly a flagged bird sighted at the Barham River in Apollo Bay in October 2011 was banded & flagged by Dr Grainne Maguire in 18/3/11 at Franklin Rd Portsea.

Our local hoodies obviously have a 'franklin' synchronicity thing going on.

To help the Hoodies 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.  Unlike many chicks they are not fed by their parents but must find their own food to enable their phenomenal growth during their path to fledging.

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.

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

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