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.

Eastern View Hooded Plovers fledge and fly away

Fabulous news. Two endangered Hooded Plover chicks have survived the danger period and fledged (taken to the skies).

The eggs and the flightless chicks had to last around 60 days without being trampled or eaten – not an easy feat for birds that nest on one of our busiest beaches in peak season!

Hoodie Chicks Eastern View
Too cute! The little chicks in their ‘flightless’ stage.

Its a great achievement by GORCC staff – especially our Conservation team, BirdLife Australia and local volunteers.  Together, we pulled out all the stops to  make sure these little cuties survived.

To make things difficult, the nest was in a dog zone so volunteers and Georgie Beale (GORCC Conservation Officer) put a massive amount of work into meeting and educating dog walkers.

This is the first time in three years that Hooded Plover chicks have fledged on our coast – a great effort by all.

Learn more about Hooded Plovers and how to get involved in their protection here.

Baby Hoodies on the Beach!

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.

The two remaining Hoodies at Eastern View.
The two remaining Hoodies at Eastern View are striving to survive. PHOTO: Georgina Beale

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.

For more information on the Hooded Plover, visit: www.gorcc.com.au

Related blogs:

photo-22Conference for hoodie conservation
km-entanglement-4_mg_7092Volunteer saves injured hoodie
p91904411Hoodie monitors go hi-tech
hooded-plover-photo-taken-by-dean-ingwersen2An update on our little Hoodies
releasing-a-bird-at-pt-roadknight-after-capturing-and-banding-it-georgie-beale-gorcc-mike-weston-deakin-uni-glen-ewers-birds-australia-taken-by-grainne-maguire Precious babies on our beaches
11492_hooded-plover-chicks-pt-roadnight1Protecting our endangered locals

Conference for hoodie conservation

Current and future strategies for the protection of the endangered Hooded Plover were discussed at the Third National Beach Nesting Birds conference this month.

The BirdLife Australia beach nesting birds team (L-R) Renee Mead, Meg Cullen and Grainne Maguire.
The BirdLife Australia beach nesting birds team (L-R) Renee Mead, Meg Cullen and Grainne Maguire.

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.

Kai Barrett wearing a Hooded Plover mask at the conference.
Kai Barrett wearing a Hooded Plover mask at the conference.

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!”

To learn more about Hooded Plovers or to become a volunteer monitor contact BirdLife Australia hoodedplover@birdlife.org.au, or to help fund BirdLife Australia’s vital work visit www.savethebirds.org.au/.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

Related blogs:

km-entanglement-4_mg_7092Volunteer saves injured hoodie
p91904411Hoodie monitors go hi-tech
hooded-plover-photo-taken-by-dean-ingwersen2 An update on our little hoodies
releasing-a-bird-at-pt-roadknight-after-capturing-and-banding-it-georgie-beale-gorcc-mike-weston-deakin-uni-glen-ewers-birds-australia-taken-by-grainne-maguirePrecious babies on our beaches
11492_hooded-plover-chicks-pt-roadnight1 Protecting our endangered locals

Volunteer saves injured Hoodie

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.

Hooded Plover KM gets treated for its injuries.
Hooded Plover KM gets treated for its injuries.

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.

Local vet, Liz Brown, removes the yellow fibre caught around KM's leg.
Local vet, Liz Brown, removes the yellow fibre caught around KM’s leg.

“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.

To learn more about the Hooded Plover monitor, email hoodedplover@birdlife.org.au.

This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

KM's banded leg entangled in the unknown yellow fibre.
KM’s banded leg entangled in the unknown yellow fibre.

Find out more about volunteering along the coast on GORCC’s website.

Find out more about protecting our endangered Hooded Plovers on the GORCC website, or read the related blog posts below.

Related blog posts:

p91904411Hoodie monitors go hi-tech
hooded-plover-photo-taken-by-dean-ingwersen2An update on our little ‘Hoodies’
1 Precious babies on our beaches
11492_hooded-plover-chicks-pt-roadnight1Protecting our endangered locals

Hoodie monitors go hi-tech

GORCC Conservation Team members and Birdlife Australia Grainne Maguire join Hooded Plover Monitor volunteers at a training day in Pt Roadknight.

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 researcher Grainne Maguire measuring Pt Roadknight Hoodie.
Photo courtesy of Glenn Ehmke.

Birdlife Australia Word about the Hood  May 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.

For further information on the online data portal and becoming a volunteer visit the Birdlife Australia website.

More information on Hooded Plovers can be found here. 

Related blog posts:

An update on our little ‘Hoodies’


Precious babies on our beaches

Protecting our endangered locals

Predatory pests targeted in Juc

Jan Juc Coast Action group is embarking on a fox control program in an effort to protect the local environment from the predatory pests.

Jan Juc Coast Action chairperson Luke Hynes said foxes were highly destructive to both flora and fauna.

“Foxes not only prey on native animals, but increase the spread of invasive weeds by dispersing weed seeds through their droppings and it is imperative that we reduce their impact,”  he said.

Foxes not only prey on native animals, but increase the spread of invasive weeds by dispersing weed seeds through their droppings and it is imperative that we reduce their impact.

“They are becoming more prevalent in the Jan Juc area, often being sighted around supermarkets and suburban backyards,” he said.

This confident fox was snapped in a Jan Juc residents backyard.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) conservation officer Georgie Beale said foxes could also be found in coastal vegetation, and that fox dens were a common sight in the dunes.

“The fox is a clever and oppotunistic predator , and carcasses of penguins and other small marsupials can be seen around their dens and scattered through the dunes.

Red Fox with bandicoot. Courtesy of DPIW Tasmania

“Ground nesting birds such as the hooded plover are particularly at risk. GORCC fences plover nesting areas in an attempt to not only protect this threatened species from dogs, but from foxes, ” she said.

Jan Juc Coast Action’s program involves trapping the foxes with soft jaw traps and does not utilise and bait in order to protect dogs.

GORCC is ordering and purchasing equipment for the group in support of the program.

“We are investigating different methods fox control, and are happy to be able to assist the group in this important program,” Beale said.

The Otway Coast Committee’s recent success using soft jaw traps for fox and feral cat trapping is serving as inspiration for the group.

OCC executive officer Gary McPike said about 30 foxes in total had been caught on beaches and foreshores in almost 18 months.

“This is a fantastic result for our native birds and animals. At the start of last year’s hooded plover breeding season three foxes were trapped inside one of our nesting areas in the one weekend.

” As a result, for only the second time in 10 years, at lease one plover chick grew to be a fledgling,” he said.

Traps are set away from beach access points and warning signs request dog owners keep their animals under control and stick to the paths.

If you would like to assist Jan Juc Coast Action in their work please call Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438.

This column was featured in the Surf Coast Time’s fortnightly Going Green Column.

Further resources:

Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994

European Red Fox information factsheet

What do you think?

Have you seen any foxes in your area?

Have you come across foxes anywhere else on the coast?

What are your thoughts about the control of foxes along the surf coast?

Playful whale heralds in a great day for forum goers

The Community Forum for Coastal Volunteers last Sunday, 29 August 2010, turned out to be quite an experience for all concerned.

Throughout the day, Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club was abuzz with the conversation and laughter of some 40 voices as a playful whale made the most of the glassy waves on offer, delighting and sometimes distracting participants from forum proceedings.

With some arriving after very long drives from as far away as Princetown, the first order of the day was morning tea and pit stops before Coast Action/Coastcare Facilitator Jess Brown welcomed everyone to the forum and introduced facilitator Geoff Brown.

Geoff got straight down to business working with the group to map out the connections between the various groups and agencies represented, including by inviting everyone to ‘find their tribe’. A number of tribes quickly formed, primarily along geographic and/or organisational type lines (e.g. Land Manager Tribe, Community Volunteer Group Tribe). Queens Park

It was fascinating to see which tribe people saw themselves as belonging to, with the sole Princetown representative welcomed into the Anglesea community tribe and Friends of Queens Park ending up in the land manager tribe.

This exercise highlighted the different types of connections and the benefits of building constructive networks – a perfect introduction into the three guest speaker presentations that followed:

  • Graeme Stockton outlined the achievements of his group, Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment (SANE), in protecting and conserving the many values of the Bells Beach Surfing Reserve  Bells Beach
  • Gail Chrisfield described how one little hooded plover helped to introduce the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee to the possibilities afforded by social media to connect and engage with people online, and
  • Margaret Macdonald used a case study to illustrate how the community connections between Friends of Eastern Otways and other groups were having a positive impact on the coastal environment around the iconic Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch. PR Plover and his missus

Then it was time for everyone else to share their own stories with others via a ‘Jumpstart Story’ process that enabled one to quickly listen and share with at least half those gathered before identifying the five or six most inspiring stories for further investigation by the whole group.

The conversations continued flowing throughout a very lively lunch, interspersed with visits to the top of the grassy knoll to view the whale who, by now, looked to have taken up residence out the front of the club.

Fed and watered, the group soon settled down after lunch into the task of future gazing, using a magic wand to look at goals and hopes for the future. The stories from the morning session proved useful in identifying the ‘X factors’ for success, including the skills, capacities and connections among the volunteer groups that are already in place and can be built on. Moggs Creek

Meanwhile the various land managers worked on simple but enlightening role statements to support them in communicating and connecting with others.

Finally, the home straight was in plain sight (as was the whale – still!) as the discussion moved to the next steps needed to making the future a reality, with the first step being to share what happened at the forum via this blog.

In all, the day provided a fantastic opportunity to connect and share with others whose passion is caring for the coast. A big heartfelt thank you to Coast Action/Coastcare Facilitator Jess Brown who put in a lot of hard work and effort to put it all together and make it happen.

Over the coming weeks, the stories emerging from the forum, the lessons we learnt, the goals and wishes for our various groups and our coast, and the next steps we need to take will be progressively added to this blog for participants to refer to and comment on, and to share with those who weren’t there, including people we don’t even know from coasts in other parts of the world.

We look forward to sharing these experiences with you and invite you to post your impressions, thoughts and ideas to this blog – and to spread the word to others.