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!