Otway Coast Committee

Committed to Sustainable Management

31st Jan. 2013 - Hooded Plovers - Australia Day, Nesting & Fledging, ... & Dogs

Hooded Plovers and Australia Day

The OCC had a great day on the foreshore at last Saturday's Australia Day Celebrations.  Over 200 budding artists painted a free calico library bag with images of Hooded Plovers.  The interest in our local Hoodies was fantastic to see with kids and adults keen to hear how our local Hoodies were coping with the massive crowds on their beaches at the very time they are nesting, hatching, growing and learning to fly.

Nesting & Fledging

As reported last week it is great news at Wild Dog Creek; the two chicks that hatched in late November have graduated to Fledglings, i.e. they have begun to fly.  Now they can fly their chance of survival to adulthood is greatly improved.

Hoodies & Dogs

The Hoodie chicks at the Barham River mouth have not fared as well as their Wild Dog counter parts.

Successive hatchlings have been lost within weeks of leaving the nest.  The count now is at least 8 chicks have been lost.

While some will have fallen prey to predators, like the Black Shoulder Kite often seen at the site, other news is more frustrating and underlines the need for us as users of the beach to be more responsible.

The OCC received a distressing report of an Irish Setter, off the lead and beyond the control of its owner, chasing adult Hooded Plovers and was seen to run down a chick, killing it.

Again we emphasise if these birds are to avoid their extinction they need all the help we can give them.  For the OCC that means signage, fencing, awareness raising, like our Australia Day effort.  For the public it means responsible dog ownership and understanding the potential impact we all have on our, at times, delicate environment.

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 nest sites.