A Hooded Plover chick has taken flight and is believed to be the first chick to fledge (reach flying age) at Point Impossible Nudist Beach in at least a decade.
Hooded Plovers have one of the lowest survival rates of any species in the world at just 2.5% and are listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999.
Since 2010, a total of just 12 of the vulnerable Hooded Plover chicks have survived to reach fledging age along the Surf Coast.
Friends of the Hooded Plovers Surf Coast (FoHPSC ) site coordinator Jan Lierich said she was thrilled to witness the rare sight and breathed a sigh of relief when the tiny chick finally took flight after 35 days.
“We are incredibly lucky the chick started flying when it did, otherwise it would have been washed away with the high tides and big swells.
“Hooded Plovers are very vulnerable and thanks to the support from beachgoers and volunteers we have finally had a chick fledge at the popular breeding area,” she said.
“It really is quite an achievement!”
This section of Point Impossible is one of the three main breeding zones along the land managed by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) but until now has recorded little success with Hooded Plover breeding.
Two chicks at the Point Roadknight nesting area have also fledged, making it three out of the seven chicks on GORCC managed land to survive this breeding season.
Volunteers, BirdLife Australia staff and the GORCC team all worked tirelessly to protect the precious family from the many threats, including dogs and people.
FoHPSC Regional Coordinator Sue Guinness said she’s very thankful to the community for their cooperation during the breeding season.
“It is a fantastic effort from all involved and we are really grateful for the support of all the Friends of the Hooded Plover groups especially the Surf Coast, Breamlea and the Bellarine, who helped look after the Hooded Plover family at Torquay,” she said.
GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said she was proud of the survival rates achieved on the coast and credits volunteers and beachgoers for their continual support.
“Volunteers have been working around the clock to help improve the survival rates of the Hooded Plover chicks along the Surf Coast, so it is fantastic when all their hard work pays off.
“A special thank-you must go to Point Impossible site coordinator Jan for her dedication and commitment in the role,” she said.
Beachgoers at the Point Impossible Nudist Beach are advised that binoculars and telescopes are being used during the breeding season to monitor the Hooded Plover chicks from a distance.
The volunteer effort is led by BirdLife Australia, the body that coordinates the state-wide and national recovery of the Hooded Plover.
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