Warmer weather brings hope for hoodies

Our much-loved Hooded Plovers have been busy with nests located at Point Impossible, Point Roadknight and Moggs Creek, all with three eggs.

The vulnerable beach-nesting shorebirds have one of the lowest survival rates of any species with only 1 in every 100 chicks reaching flying age. Read more

Volunteers prepped for Hoodie arrivals

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.

FHPSC Regional Coordinator Sue Guinness and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale observing hoodie nesting sites along the beach.
FHPSC Regional Coordinator Sue Guinness and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale observing hoodie nesting sites along the beach.

“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.

A recreated Hooded Plover nest demonstrates how fragile and exposed these tiny eggs are on the beach.
A recreated Hooded Plover nest demonstrates how fragile and exposed these tiny eggs are on the beach.

“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.

FHPSC Regional Coordinator Sue Guinness and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale dig in some hoodie shelters to help with chicks and adults survival.
FHPSC Regional Coordinator Sue Guinness and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale dig in some hoodie shelters to help with chicks and adults survival.

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.

Honour hoodies this Plover Appreciation Day

Hooded Plovers (aka ‘hoodies’) breed between September and March on our local beaches every year.   With only 12 chicks surviving on the Surf Coast between 2010-2015 (6 of those 12 fledging in just one season alone), these precious birds need our support to help ensure their survival.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) works with the dedicated Friends of the Hooded Plovers (Surf Coast) volunteers and Birdlife Australia to protect the hoodies and ensure as many chicks as possible fledge (take flight).

This September 16 BirdLife Australia is celebrating the plight of the plover through the first ever Plover Appreciation Day.

The Day recognises all ground-nesting plovers including the vulnerable Hooded Plover that is often seen breeding on the Surf Coast.

cute birds
A pair of Hooded Plover chicks.  Image: Grainne Maguire

The aim is to raise awareness of the plight of ground-nesting plovers across the world and spread awareness about how everyone can help save them.

Along the Surf Coast, humans and dogs pose are one of the biggest threats to the Hooded Plover’s survival.  Unfortunately, Hoodies create nests on the beach during the busiest season on the coast, forcing them to share their breeding sites with thousands of beach-goers (and their dogs, vehicles, horses … ).

The breeding habits of the Hoodie mean they are in direct conflict with not only humans and dogs but introduced predators as well.  To make matters worse for the Hoodie:

  • They lay their eggs on beaches above the high tide level where people like to walk their dogs or lay out their towels.
  • Any disturbance from people or animals can drive the adult birds away from their nests and chicks.
  • The eggs are almost impossible to see, which makes them very easy to step on.
  • The chicks are tiny, fragile and defenceless making them very vulnerable to threats.

It is important that all beachgoers keep their distance from hoodie breeding zones and ‘give them space’.

Not sure where the hoodies breed? Click here to find out.

Photo: Dean Ingwersen
Hooded Plovers are medium-sized sandy-brown birds with a black hood and are currently listed as critically endangered in New South Wales and vulnerable in Victoria and South Australia. Photo: Dean Ingwersen

There a four main ground-nesting plovers in the spotlight this Plover Appreciation Day – the Hooded Plover, Red-Capped Plover, Spur Winged Plover and Black Fronted Dotterel. To learn more about the different types of plovers in Australia click here.

How can you get involved?

To help raise awareness of the Hooded Plover’s struggle for survival, follow these easy 3 easy steps.

1. Like Birdlife on social media

   Hooded Plover

2. Download our Hoodie mask (either the wearable version or selfie stick version)
3. Upload a photo on social media using the mask to express what it means to be ‘vulnerable’

Make sure you use the hashtag: #vulnerablehoodies for your chance to win great prizes.

birdlife hoodie mask
Click here to download the Hooded Plover mask.

For more information on Hooded Plovers, head to the BirdLife Australia website or the MyHoodie website.

GORCC is running a local awareness #SaveTheHoodie campaign to encourage beachgoers on the Surf Coast to keep their dogs away from hoodie breeding zones and encourage everyone to ‘give them space’.  For more information vist the ‘Save The Hoodie’ website.

Interested in getting involved?  To volunteer contact BirdLife Australia at hoodedplover@birdlife.org.au.

Elusive fauna captured on camera

The Southern Brown Bandicoot and rare Rufous Bristlebird have been captured on infrared, motion-sensing cameras in Aireys Inlet.

The cameras, which were recently installed by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) as part of a new conservation monitoring program, record and identify animal activity in coastal habitats.

The below footage shows the Rufous Bristlebird amongst the vegetation:

The footage was collected within weeks of placing the cameras on coastal restoration sites. GORCC Education Activity Leader Peter Crowcroft said the sighting of a bandicoot, in particular, was unexpected and exciting.

The Southern Brown Bandicoot wandering past the camera at night.

“We are very fortunate the Southern Brown Bandicoot wandered into the monitoring area. We weren’t expecting to have such a good sighting of a bandicoot, especially within the first week.

“We are thrilled to have images of these animals in the area as it provides photographic evidence that the work we are doing is valuable for their survival. Until now there was no real way to confirm that rare species are living in the revegetated areas along the coast, so this evidence is very encouraging,” he said.

A feral cat threatens endangered species in the Aireys Inlet bushland.
A feral cat is captured in the same location as the other fauna was photographed.

Read the full media release here.

Are there any rare species you hope our infrared cameras will find? Let us know in the comments below!

Rare bird’s distinct call

You may have heard the unique vocal call of the Rufous Bristlebird, but did you know that the Surf Coast is one of the last places in the world that you are likely to see these birds?

Adult male- Rufous Bristlebird- photo courtesy of Graemechapman.com.au
Adult male- Rufous Bristlebird- photo courtesy of Graemechapman.com.au

The Rufous Bristlebird (Dasyorni Broadbenti) is only found in Australia with a predominance along coastal areas in south-western Victoria.  The species have previously been sighted in south-western Western Australia and south-eastern South Australia, but unfortunately frequent burning has led to its extinction in W.A.

The medium-sized songbird has a loud and distinctive vocal call which makes the bird easily identifiable.

Click here to hear the vocal call between two Rufous Bristlebirds, courtesy of the Internet Bird Collection.

The Rufous Bristlebird is threatened nationwide due to habitat loss from clearing for urban developments and agriculture. They are also prone to predation from foxes and cats.

There have been sightings of the rare bird along the coast between Anglesea and the Gelenlg River.

Have you seen or heard a Rufous Bristlebird in your area? Let us know in the comments below.

For more information about the rare bird click here.

Hoodies! A poem


A poem by Ellinor and David Campbell

Photo: BirdLife Australia
Photo: BirdLife Australia

Hey, look at me, I’ve just been born with siblings two and three,

and life looks pretty good at Moggs, with miles of sand and sea.

But tragedy has struck us all, for we have lost our dad

while fighting off a savage fox, so we are very sad.

Now mum has said we must move on, to find a safer place…

my little legs get tired so fast, I can’t keep up the pace!

At last we’re there and we can hide beneath our mum’s warm breast.

We cuddle up, as warm as toast, until the next big test.

There’s people walking past our home right through each long, hot day,

and it’s our hope that all of them will keep quite far away,

especially the ones with dogs, for they run very fast,

so we must hide as best we can until the danger’s passed.

But strangely, there are other folk who put on yellow vests,

and watch us closely all the time…they’ve even made us nests!

However I now realise they’re here to lend a hand,

and keep our home secure and safe…they seem to understand.

They talk to people with their dogs and ask them to walk by

with dogs on leash, down near the sea, and try to tell them why.

That gives us time to eat our fill, for we need lots of food,

and so it’s great when passers-by respect our little brood.

We simply need to have some space, and want them to take care,

so we may have a chance to fly, to make our way out there.

Some other things that frighten us are gulls and bikes and balls,

and fun runs which can make our beach a bit like shopping malls!

We’re growing bigger with each day and so we need to roam

along the beach to find some food that’s far away from home.

Our wardens don’t know where we are, and they get quite upset

while searching for us here and there, but we play hard to get!

And sometimes other hoodies come and try to interfere,

but our brave mum soon scares them off…she won’t let strangers near!

We’re getting big, our feathers grow, we stretch our wings and run,

for life is looking pretty good, with sand and surf and sun.

But nights are scary and that fox is not too far away…

that’s how my brother lost his life, and so we dare not stray.

It prowled around the next night too, but mum is very smart…

she made us hide away from her, and kept us well apart.

It worked so well the fox was fooled, our guardians were too…

they hunted high and low for us, and didn’t have a clue

that we were safe, but when they knew there was so much relief

that we were very much alive and hadn’t come to grief.

Each day we need to feed so much, and run along the beach,

while mum still watches over us…she’s had so much to teach!

But often she will leave us now, although the wardens stay

to watch us run and flap our wings…we’d love to be away!

And now, at last, it’s time to go, for both of us can fly

above the people, sand, and dogs, we’re taking to the sky.

We’re off to roam both near and far, way over land and sea,

so thank you, thank you, one and all…you’ve helped us to be free!

It is important that all beachgoers keep their distance from hoodie breeding zones and ‘give them space’.

Not sure where the hoodies breed? Click here to find out.

Endangered bird breeding season begins

The Hooded Plover breeding season has commenced and BirdLife Australia is holding a workshop in Breamlea today to educate others about the endangered, beach-nesting birds and encourage everyone to play a part in their protection.

BirdLife Australia Beach-nesting Birds Project Officer Renée Mead said the annual workshop would raise awareness about the many threats faced by the vulnerable species, particularly during the breeding season, and add to the skills of existing volunteers.

Hoodie chick at Pt Roadknight 2012 Photo: Geoff Gates
Hoodie chick at Pt Roadknight 2012 Photo: Geoff Gates

“We want to ensure that participants have the required knowledge so that their volunteer work doesn’t become an added disturbance to the birds.

“The workshop is also a chance to thank participants and the community in general because the birds are doing well in this area due to their support,” she said.

Adult hooded plovers: Photo: Dean Ingwerson
Adult hooded plovers: Photo: Dean Ingwerson

Hooded Plover volunteer monitor Geoff Gates said the beachgoers can become part of the solution rather than the problem.

“It’s extremely important for beachgoers to understand how the Hooded Plovers behave throughout their nesting cycle.”

Mr Gates said the coastal users were often unaware of the small changes they can make to help protect the endangered species.

“Hovering near a nest can mean birds leave and do not return to incubate and breed successfully.
“It is also vital that dogs are not allowed in prohibited areas as they can easily run over fragile nests or attack the birds,” he said.

Hooded Plovers nest on the beach and their eggs are very vulnerable to multiple threats, including dogs, feral pests.  The eggs are small and humans can tread on them or scare away 'Hoodie' parents.
Hooded Plovers nest on the beach and their eggs are very vulnerable to multiple threats, including dogs, feral pests. The eggs are small and humans can tread on them or scare away ‘Hoodie’ parents.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said the birds are incredibly vulnerable when nesting, and relied on community awareness and cooperation for their survival.

“The birds nest over our busiest time of year between the high tide mark and sand dunes.

“It’s important to remember the local beaches are their home too and the way we use the beach has a serious impact on their hopes for survival,” she said.

While many of the threats to Hooded Plover breeding success are human in nature, the birds are also in danger from feral pests.

Ms. Beale recently discovered an abandoned nest Point Roadknight.

“There were fresh prints leading up to the nest and away from it including that of ravens, seagulls, dogs and foxes.

“It seems the Hooded Plovers had nested and the eggs were taken,” she said.

The Hooded Plover Workshop will be held on Wednesday September 10 from 9:45am. The day will include morning tea followed by a beach walk. For more information contact Birdlife Australia on (03) 9347 0757.