Two endangered Hooded Plover chicks have hatched at Eastern View and are striving to survive.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation (GORCC) Officer Georgie Beale is urging all beachgoers to keep dogs on a leash, adhere to all signs, stay away from fenced nesting areas and enter the beach via designated pathways.
“Three precious chicks hatched last week and two are now thriving whilst one unfortunately died due to unknown circumstances.
“Unfortunately, the breeding habits of ‘hoodies’ put them at risk.
“The birds do not build nests, they breed during the busy summer season and any disturbance from people or animals drives the adult birds away from their chicks,” she said.
GORCC has worked with volunteers and Birdlife Australia to rope off the nest area and install signs to ensure the chicks are protected.
Ms. Beale commended the volunteers, Birdlife Australia and the community for their enthusiasm and cooperation in helping to protect the chicks.
“The volunteers have also done a fantastic job in monitoring the chicks since they hatched.”
“Dog owners have been very cooperative and we have received a lot of support from beachgoers who stop to have a look,” she said.
An information session was held at the site over the long weekend to inform the public about the chick’s arrival and the importance of protecting them.
A telescope was set up on the site to give community members chance to view the Hoodies from a distance.
Despite the arrival of these precious new locals, the Hooded Plover is still very much endangered. The species is already extinct in Queensland and northern New South Wales and in November 2010 there were only 569 adult birds left in Victoria.
Current and future strategies for the protection of the endangered Hooded Plover were discussed at the Third National Beach Nesting Birds conference this month.
BirdLife Australia’s national conference attracted 150 attendees over two days and was held on 14 and 15 June in Queenscliff.
BirdLife Australia’s beach nesting birds program manager Grainne Maguire said the event featured a range of new speakers and provided inspiration and new ideas to volunteers and land managers.
“We covered a whole range of topics ranging from research to new methods for protecting the birds and an overview on how the program has progressed over time.
“This included insights into the birds’ movements and life histories which have been revealed through our banding activities.
“We also discussed the importance of the Mornington Peninsula National Park for the birds, dog access policies, coastal geomorphology and how weeds can lead to erosion problems.”
Ms Maguire said it was the best meeting to date because there was an interesting mix of attendees.
“Virtual communication is great to a limited degree but there is nothing better than getting together face-to-face,” she said.
Guests at the conference included a range of representatives from the Surf Coast including the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) conservation officer Georgie Beale.
Hooded Plovers are endangered in Victoria and GORCC works closely with BirdLife Australia and volunteers to ensure their survival on our local beaches.
Ms Beale said dog owners and walkers can help to protect the “hoodies” by ensuring dogs are on leashes and avoiding dog prohibited refuge sites.
“Hooded Plovers are an important indicator of the health of our beaches and everyone in the community can play a role in saving them from extinction.
“Observe the signs and fenced areas and stay well away from any ‘hoodies’ you seen on the beach.”
Ms Maguire said even a single sighting reported by a volunteer hoodie monitor can sometimes provide an important missing piece of the puzzle.
“This program gives people hope about what can be achieved in this world when everyone gets together on an issue. We are bringing these birds back from the brink of extinction and at the same time making sure our irreplaceable coasts aren’t damaged beyond repair. It’s awesome!”
A Hooded Plover’s life has been saved thanks to the quick thinking of a dedicated volunteer and the assistance of Birdlife Australia and a local vet.
The bird, known as ‘KM’, was found with severe injuries near Point Roadknight recently with a yellow fibre cutting of circulation to its leg.
Volunteer Hooded Plover Monitor Geoff Gates noticed the bird was limping between a flock of about six other plovers.
“I knew the bird’s leg was swollen and had something constricting the blood flow to the foot and I thought the most probable cause was fishing line,” he said.
Birdlife Australia Beach-nesting Birds Program Manager Grainne Maguire said she carefully separated the bird from its flock and local vet, Liz Brown, was called in to assist.
“Liz used a pair of fine scissors and carefully removed the fibre which was twisted and embedded around the ankle.
“She applied anti-fungal cream on the wound and gave the bird a shot of antibiotics,” she said.
“Two volunteers have since reported KM is moving about normally and seems to be doing well but we’ll be monitoring the wound closely over the coming month to ensure there’s no infection and that it’s healing properly.”
Litter, including fishing line, poses danger to beach nesting birds and other coastal and marine wildlife and beachgoers are being urged to do their bit and keep our coast clean.
“The main way we can minimize entanglements is to ensure we bin our litter, especially fishing line,” Ms Maguire said.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Officer Georgina Beale said some of the dead seals and birds that wash up on the coast have swallowed or been strangled by plastic bags, fishing line, bits of nets and other rubbish.
“Please use the bins located in grassed foreshore areas and adjacent to sand areas to dispose of litter,” she said.
Hooded Plovers are endangered in Victoria and are vulnerable to a wide range of threats including a range of predators.
You can help to ensure their survival by getting hands on and becoming a volunteer monitor.
Volunteer monitors log sightings, track the movements of individual birds and follow their breeding progress over the season, logging information into the My Hoodie Data Portal.
“The portal is being used by several hundred volunteers and we have over 2000 sightings in it so far,” Ms Maguire said.
Birdlife Australia held an informative Hooded Plover Monitor training day at Point Roadknight last week helping volunteers to utilise a new online data portal.
The portal is an efficient way of collecting data and will assist regional groups and volunteers to monitor Hooded Plover pairs.
Hooded Plovers breed during the busiest time of year on our coast, between September and March each year and are classed as a threatened species. ‘Hoodies’ nest on our beaches, making them very vulnerable to a range of predators and other threats, including accidental trampling by humans.
GORCC Conservation Officer Georgina Beale who attended the event, said the training day assisted participants to learn how to use the new online portal and understand its benefits.
“The portal is environmentally friendly in its ability to reduce paper trail as volunteers can record their hours and notes online,” she said.
Birdlife Australia Word about the HoodMay 2012 newsletter reported that the online data portal also has the capacity to:
Shortlist pairs that need checking (i.e. have not been checked for over a fortnight);
See which pairs currently have eggs and chicks (and so better estimating important dates to visit);
Set alerts for new nests or chick sites that need urgent management put in place and;
See the current state of play for all the birds at once.