Hooded Plovers are doing it tough!
The Hooded Plovers breeding season is not off to a great start, but our community can help them by providing space for the birds to have a nest and raise a family.
As many people may know, the Hooded Plover is a vulnerable species in Australia and endangered in Victoria.
Due to the breeding habits of these birds, it is very easy for them to be disturbed by people and their pets without people even knowing.
Bass Coast Shire Council’s Manager Sustainable Environment, Deirdre Griepsma, said the good news is there are a few easy steps people can take to help out these birds.
"Hooded Plovers nest in the foredunes on our beaches, as they are extremely well adapted to living on the beach,” Ms Griepsma said.
“They forage at all levels of the water on a variety of food, such as sand hoppers, molluscs, insects, worms and seeds from aquatic plants.
“In Bass Coast, we are fortunate enough to have stretches of well preserved natural coastline, it is the perfect invitiation to these vulnerable beach nesting birds.”
Last breeding season saw good results compared to previous seasons. Forty chicks survived the summer conditions and crowds and made it to the flying stage, also known as fledging.
This season we have had a total of 28 nesting attempts on beaches across the entire Shire. So far, only two nests have made it to the hatching stage and no chicks have survived to date. That means 84 eggs have been laid and no chicks have lived beyond a few days, which isn’t a good result for the Hooded Plover.
It takes four weeks to incubate the eggs till they hatch, and a further five weeks until the chicks can fly and therefore avoid danger. This is a long time to spend exposed on beaches with threats to their survival coming from storms, extreme heat, high winds, foxes, ravens, cats, people, dogs and numerous other elements.
Whilst we can’t control the weather and some predators, we can influence the way our community and visitors behave, and try and minimise disturbance humans cause.
People can help the Hooded Plovers have a successful breeding season by undertaking the following:
Avoid using beaches known to be used for Hooded Plover breeding
Walk close to the water’s edge
Keep an eye out for and obey signage and barriers put up for the protection of the birds
Keep your dog on a leash at all times and off the beach during ‘no dogs’ times. For details on restrictions please see the website www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/dogwalking
If you wish to let your dog run free, please use the designated off-leash areas that are around the Shire
Report any incidents to 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211