High hopes for hooded plover season Photo: Kerri Bartley Photo: Kerri Bartley Photo: Sue and Ash Read Photo: Sue and Ash Read Photo: Sue and Ash Read
28 October 2019

High hopes for hooded plover season

Our region’s beach nesting birds, the Hooded Plovers need your help… and some names.

It’s currently breeding season, and right through to March, pairs of the birds will lay eggs and attempt to raise chicks to ensure the nationally vulnerable species’ survival.

In the past couple of weeks, three chicks have hatched at Moana Beach and two hatched at Ochre Cove, while there are also nests with eggs at Sellicks Beach, Port Willunga and Maslin Beach.

Last breeding season on the Fleurieu Peninsula region was one to forget. From 33 breeding pairs and 86 attempts at a nest, there were 223 eggs, 46 chicks and 10 fledged ‘Hoodies’ (birds that learned to fly), with no surviving chicks fledging from the Onkaparinga region where we have eight suitable beaches for the birds to nest.

Hooded Plover chicks have a low chance of survival because they can’t fly for the first five weeks; become easily frightened by human and off-leash dog activity and are susceptible to a range of predators.

The chicks must feed themselves from the day they hatch, eating insects such as sand hoppers on the beach. If they’re busy hiding from people and dogs, they aren’t getting a chance to eat, which will lead to starvation.

A love story

Two attempts at a nest have already been made at Port Willunga this season – offspring of one of Onkaparinga’s greatest love stories – amid hopes the species will rebound in the south in 2019-20.

Passionate volunteers have monitored the chicks’ parents in Port Willunga for almost a decade, and they’ve been together longer than any other pair in Onkaparinga, successfully raising four chicks over eight years.

Their most recent chicks hatched in late September but unfortunately none of them survived. The pair has not had any chicks survive in the past three years, but they have already laid more eggs which are due to hatch in mid-November.

The pair is currently known only as “DP” (the female) and “HV” (the male) – the identification codes on their tags – so we’re asking for the public’s help to name our lovebirds (not to be confused with the African parrots).

“Hooded Plovers are native to our beaches and are a key part of our ecosystems, so if we don’t fight to save them, they could be gone forever,” says Kerri Bartley, City of Onkaparinga Technical Officer, Coast and Estuary.

“This pair has been together for a long time and we can easily identify them by their tags. That’s why we want to name them, keeping the community up-to-date with their attempts to nest this season and alerting people of the plight of this species.”

Post your suggested names for the pair and the reasons you chose them in the comments section of the plover post at the top of our Facebook page, and we’ll reveal the winners soon.

Join efforts to save our hoodies

City of Onkaparinga’s Nature Conservation team helps support Hooded Plovers through temporary exclusion zones and signage, in partnership with passionate local Hoodie Helper volunteers who monitor the birds and raise awareness in our community (with support from BirdLife Australia and Natural Resources Management Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges).

If you spot council’s temporary beach restrictions, we want you to make sure your dog is on a lead and that you walk past the area along the waters’ edge because the Hoodies become distressed if they see a dog running around.

“The tiny chicks need to run all over the beach to find food, so they don’t just stay within the fenced areas,” says Kerri.

“We really hope this will be a better season for them and we can all play our part to help these precious birds.”

Temporary parking controls may also be in place on beaches that allow vehicle access, so please don’t drive past signed areas.

Regular breeding sites in the City of Onkaparinga are Moana Beach, Ochre Cove Beach, Maslin Beach, Port Willunga Beach, Snapper Point/Aldinga North, Aldinga Beach and Port Stanvac.

You can keep up-to-date with our plovers’ progress on the City of Onkaparinga Facebook page throughout the breeding season.

Hoodies at Port Willunga

"DP" and "HV" at Port Willunga. Photo: Sue and Ash Read

Adult performing a display to distract predators from nest.

Photo: Kerri Bartley

Eggs at Port Willunga

Photo: Kerri Bartley

Chicks born in late September.

Photo: Sue and Ash Read

"HV", rocking out.

Photo: Sue and Ash Read

"DP" at Port Willunga.

Photo: Sue and Ash Read

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