Blog

Posted on 27/12/2017 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

COMMUNITY TAKES HOODED PLOVERS UNDER THEIR WING

The future of Phillip Island’s threatened Hooded Plovers is looking up, with a positive start to this year’s breeding season. Up until mid-December there have been 16 chicks recorded on our beaches out of a total of 19 nests, which is the second highest number of chicks ever recorded to this period.

“The successful outcomes that we are seeing with the Hooded Plover population here on Phillip Island are due in large part to the Nature Parks and the local community working together,” said Jessica McKelson, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Conservation Manager.

“Our Rangers have been protecting the hoodies on the island’s beaches for several years now and have achieved excellent results, but it is no coincidence that we have enjoyed some of our greatest successes since the community has really come on board and taken this threatened species under their wing.”

Hooded Plover chicks are extremely vulnerable as their nests lay in the sand dunes, and as soon as they hatch they must travel long stretches of beach in search of food and also to get to the water to remain hydrated. The parents do their best to distract predators for the 35 days it takes for the chicks to fly, but we can also play a huge role in protecting these birds until they fledge, or leave the nest.

The Nature Parks has been actively managing threats to the Hooded Plovers through a range of measures including monitoring, creation of nest refuges, and the island-wide eradication of foxes which has benefitted so many animal species.

“We established the Hooded Plover Watch in 1998, and these local volunteer wardens spend time not only monitoring the birds but also educating other community members and visitors, giving them some simple, key actions we can all adopt such as: Stay out of sand dunes and where possible, walk close to the water’s edge, and keep clear of nest areas.”

“One of the most important rules is having no dogs on the beach unless signed, especially during summer when dogs are only allowed on designated beaches in the early morning and evening. If on a beach where dogs are allowed, please keep them on a leash at all times, with the exception of any designated, seasonal off leash areas.”

The Hooded Plover population has increased from a low of 21 in 2001 to around 50 today, with a total of 13 chicks fledging on Phillip Island last year. This number is well above the average and also above the target of 8 fledglings per year which is the minimum required to maintain this population increase.

“It is vital that our local community continues to lead by example, acting responsibly on our beaches so that our visitors also have the opportunity to play their part. Working together, we can achieve great results for this threatened species which is in decline in many other coastal areas.” concluded Jessica.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Hooded Plover Watch please contact the Nature Parks’ Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@penguins.org.au.