Protecting Our Endangered Locals

Three very special bird species are calling the Surf Coast home and need your help to survive.
Birds Australia volunteers work tirelessly every year to protect and monitor endangered coastal birds, nesting along the coastline. They have the challenging task of protecting the birds from the many threats they face.

Three coastal birds species are particularly vulnerable along the Surf Coast; Hooded Plover, Red-necked Stints and Red-capped Plovers.    


Hooded Plovers

Hooded Plovers are a rare, endangered species and the Surf Coast is home to several  Hooded Plover nesting sites.  The plovers are now extinct in Queensland, fewer than 50 occur in New South Wales and only 400 are thought to remain in Victoria. 

The species is especially vulnerable because they nest on beaches and their eggs are easy to step on and their chicks are susceptible to danger.  Any disturbance will also drive adult birds away from their eggs and chicks.                                                                                                                

Hooded Plover Chicks at Point Roadknight
This year pairs have been spotted nesting at Point Addis (Red Rocks Beach) and Point Impossible in addition to the well known pairs nesting at Point Roadknight – made famous through their own Twitter site and identifiable by their orange leg flags.
Hooded Plover Chicks at Point Roadknight
The pair at the tip of Point Roadknight produced the first chick for Victoria this season, and just recently chicks have hatched in their second nest.  Unfortunately the Point Addis pair has not been so lucky – having abandoned their nest, possibly due to dogs which are often left to roam in the area.


Red-necked Stints

Red-necked Stints are small migratory waders which forage on exposed reefs and in wet sand and shelter amongst the seaweed.

The protected species lives only in estuarine tidal flats, meaning we are very lucky to have them call the Surf Coast home.   Around 170-200 of these vulnerable little birds have been sighted in the area.

The stints breed in Alaska and Siberia, and take about 1 ½ weeks to get to Australia with one stopover in Asia.  They spend their time in Australia building up their bodyweight for the long trip home in autumn.


Red-capped Plovers

Red-capped Plovers are similar in size to the Red-necked Stints, but are white with a grey back and red cap on their heads.  They are also beach nesters, so that their eggs and chicks are very vulnerable to disturbance and they are now declining in numbers.

Measures are being taken to protect these vulnerable birds

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee has built a fenced refuge area and erected special signs along the beach at Point Roadknight for the hooded plovers while the Surf Coast Shire Council has designated dog-free zone areas and Birds Australia volunteers monitor sites and identify threats to the birds.

You can help

By ensuring dogs are on the leash on beaches where the birds are found and by avoiding the dog prohibited refuge sites.  You can also help by observing the signs and staying well away from any birds.

To get involved

Get involved and play a more active role in their conservation please contact Meghan Cullen at Birds Australia or phone 03 9347 0757.

Story provided by Birds Australia, Birds Australia Volunteers and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee for the Surf Coast Times ‘Going Green’ column.

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