Posted on 03/08/2018 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Residents and Rangers help threatened Hoodies
Hooded Plovers are internationally recognised as a threatened species, with less than 600 birds left in Victoria. The beaches of Phillip Island in Victoria are a popular breeding ground for the birds, which also makes the nests vulnerable to accidental trampling by beachgoers and dogs.
The Nature Parks’ Hooded Plover Watch program, established in 1998, is celebrating 20 years of raising awareness and community engagement in the conservation of the species, along with promoting coexistence between recreationalists and beach nesting birds.
Through this program, teams of Phillip Island Nature Parks rangers and volunteers work together to monitor and protect the Hooded Plover population on the island. They record nest and chick numbers, band chicks, create refuges, and eradicate predators, such as foxes and feral cats.
Phillip Island Nature Parks Conservation Manager, Jess McKelson, said the Island’s Hooded Plover population has now increased from a low of 21 in 2001 to almost 50 today.
“The 2017/18 breeding season had the highest number of breeding birds with 23 pairs producing 12 fledgling chicks. Over the last 5 years, an average of 12 chicks have fledged per year, compared with an average of only 2 chicks per year in the 5 years before Hooded Plover Watch started. Much of this comes down to the fantastic partnership with our community volunteers to ensure the success of the program,” she said.
"Twelve fledglings is almost double our long term average (6.96 fledglings), making the 2017/18 season the equal third most productive on Phillip Island in recorded history,” Jess said.
“Hooded Plovers breed on our beaches from August to May, which coincides with the busy summer months,” Jess said.
“The nests are extremely vulnerable as Hooded Plover lay their eggs in little scrapes somewhere between the high tide mark up into the sand dunes. As soon as the eggs hatch the chicks must search for food, hide from predators, and shelter from extreme weather along the beach. The parents do their best to distract humans and predators for the 35 days it takes for the chicks to fly, however accidental trampling can occur.” Quickly locating birds that have a nest is an important part of volunteer work so that a roped and signed refuge can be erected to give the birds space.
“The Hooded Plover Watch program aims to protect the chicks until they fly. We work with the Bass Coast Shire Council, Parks Victoria and our community groups and volunteers to monitor nest sites and educate the public about the importance of keeping themselves and their dogs away from nesting areas.”
The Hooded Plover Watch program is conducted throughout the year, with activity increasing during the breeding season from August to May. Counts of all birds on beaches are held quarterly to monitor the species in the long term.
How you can help Hooded Plover conservation:
- Walk your dog on a leash whenever you are at the beach.
- Maintain a distance from fenced off areas\
- Always be vigilant for Hooded Plovers and their behaviour; despite PINP’s best efforts the birds may move from the protected areas.
- Enjoy a Phillip Island attraction. All proceeds from our ecotourism activities is invested back into vital conservation, research and education programs, such as Hooded Plover Watch.
If you are interested in becoming a member of Hooded Plover Watch, please contact the Nature Parks’ Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phillip Island Nature Parks is a not-for-profit organisation that manages the Phillip Island Penguin Parade, Koala Conservation Centre, Churchill Island Heritage Farm, Wild Ocean EcoBoat Tours and the Antarctic Journey at the Nobbies Centre, as well as other recreational areas including beaches, wetlands and woodlands. Revenue generated through its ecotourism activities is invested into vital conservation, research and education programs.
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