Local volunteers are working around the clock in an effort to help recently hatched Hooded Plover chicks survive on busy Surf Coast beaches this breeding season.
Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast (FHPSC) volunteers, in partnership with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, Parks Victoria and BirdLife Australia are monitoring and wardening nesting sites, urging beachgoers to give the fragile little ‘hoodies’ space.
FHPSC Site Coordinator Julian White said volunteers were working long hours to help ensure the hoodies have the best chance of survival.
“We have volunteers at nesting zones between 8am and 6pm monitoring the chicks, helping to raise awareness in the community and protecting the birds from threats posed by beachgoers and their pets getting to close.
“Part of our role as Hooded Plover wardens is to talk to beach users, especially dog owners, and educate them about the risks they can unwittingly pose to these threatened shorebirds,” he said.
Hooded Plovers are easily distressed by humans and off leash dogs which can result in the parents and/or chicks becoming too frightened to feed or return to their nests.
FHPSC Regional Coordinator Sue Guinness said she is pleased with the overall response from beachgoers this season, and impressed by their willingness to help spread awareness about the Hooded Plovers.
“People have been responding positively to the signs and messages at each breeding zone and are showing a genuine interest in the Surf Coast hoodies.
“We are pleased to see an improvement with dogs on leads and members of the public keeping their distance around nesting areas,” she said.
Mr White said the warm weather over the school holidays was posing difficulties, attracting a huge influx of people to the busy beach the chicks call home.
“We are hopeful that the chicks will fledge (reach flying age) if they are able to survive the busy holiday period,” he said.
Only 9 chicks have successfully fledged on the Surf Coast since 2010, however, at the time of writing, there are 8 chicks on the Surf Coast, buoying the hopes of volunteers for an increased survival rate this season.
“Despite seeing an improvement in human and dog behaviour in breeding zones, hoodies also face ae number of other threats including feral cats, foxes and natural disturbances,” Mr White said.
The volunteer effort is led by BirdLife Australia, the body that coordinates the state-wide and national recovery of the Hooded Plover. For more information on Hoodies or to become a volunteer email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.birdlife.org.au/beach.
*Please note, this image has been taken by an experienced member of staff. Under no circumstances should the public approach a nesting site of a hooded plover, as these chicks and eggs are extremely camouflaged, easy to accidentally step on and susceptible to predators, heat and beach users. Even trained volunteers do not approach nests to monitor them, but instead do a ‘nest check’ from a distance with binoculars.
HAVE YOU ENTERED THE SAVE THE HOODIE COMPETITION YET?
For your chance to win some amazing prizes:
- Like/Follow Save The Hoodie on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter
- Share the official ‘Hamish the Hoodie’ image (pictured below) with the hashtag #savethehoodie
Make sure you share to ‘Public’ and have your account set to public to be eligible
More information and the terms and condition are available on the Save the Hoodie website.