Volunteers are gearing up for another busy Hooded Plover breeding season as the threatened shore birds begin to pair up and get ready to nest.
Volunteer group Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast (FHPSC) will be working around the clock to protect nests and chicks again this year, monitoring nesting sites during breeding season.
FHPSC Regional Coordinator Sue Guinness said volunteer wardens would be working to educate beach users about the vulnerability and breeding habits of the ‘hoodies’ to improve the awareness in the community.
“We hope the community supports our efforts to help the chicks survive on the coast this breeding season.
The FHPSC group encourages the community to be actively aware of the impacts they have on chick survival.
“It would be fantastic to see humans, dogs and Hooded Plovers all using the same beach and coexisting together, and to do that we need to be aware of the risks we pose to these vulnerable birds.
Ms. Guinness said Hooded Plovers nest in high traffic areas during the busiest time of the year, making it difficult for chicks to survive without community effort.
“We try to engage with the community near breeding sites when we are out monitoring to generate interest about the plight of our plovers.
“The easiest way to help us save these precious birds is to talk about them with friends and respect nesting areas,” she said.
During breeding season land managers such as the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee install signs to alert beachgoers to breeding zones, with regular breeding sites at Point Roadknight, Point Impossible and Moggs Creek.
Last breeding season was a record year for ‘hoodies’ on the Surf Coast, with 6 chicks fledging (surviving until they are able to fly). Only 12 chicks have survived to fledging on the Surf Coast since 2010.
This season FHPSC, Birdlife Australia and GORCC are again working together to give the chicks their best chances of survival and are encouraging beachgoers to give ‘hoodies’ some space.
To get involved in ‘hoodie’ protection and become a volunteer, contact Birdlife Australia via email or visit their website for more information.