Boom for population of fledged threatened birds’
15 September 2022
As Plover Appreciation Day is acknowledged on September 16, the results of Eyre Peninsula’s 2021-22 Hooded Plover breeding season have been finalised – and it is great news with more than triple the number of fledged chicks compared to the previous season.
Landscape Officers from the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board along with 30 BirdLife Australia volunteers, undertook fortnightly monitoring of 22 pairs of Hooded Plovers on Eyre Peninsula beaches during the 2021-22 nesting season with an average of 1.05 fledgling per pair – which is more than double the national goal of 0.4-0.5.
This result is one the best yet since increased monitoring began as part of the Protecting the Hooded Plover and Eyre Peninsula’s Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery projects. These projects are supported by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and BirdLife Australia through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Hooded Plovers – one of Australia’s top 20 threatened birds – are extremely vulnerable until they are able to fly at 35 days old. Eggs are laid in a nest that is little more than a scrape on the sand, making them hard for human’s to see when visiting beaches and also leaves them open to introduced predators such as foxes and cats. Once hatched, the birds need to get to the water’s edge to feed which further increases their vulnerability.
Across Eyre Peninsula’s monitored Hooded Plovers sites, 45 nests were recorded with 42% of these reaching the hatching stage.
Landscape Officer Rachael Kannussaar oversees the southern Eyre Peninsula monitoring and is thrilled with latest results.
“From those 42 nests, 52 chicks were recorded with 23 reaching the fledgling stage,” Ms Kannussaar says.
“We are so pleased to see this huge increase on last year’s six recorded fledglings. A lot of time and effort goes into monitoring these birds and implementing interventions where we can to increase their chances of survival.
“Those 23 fledglings came from 10 nesting sites with some form of management implemented at seven of those nesting territories.”
The management tools ranged from targeted predator control, nest site flanking signage and nest site fencing.
One nesting site even ended up with five fledglings from two nesting attempts which included triplets.
“The triplets were definitely an unexpected but welcome surprise from last season,” says Ms Kannussaar.
“That beach, near Tumby Bay, is one where our interventions included feral cat and fox control, as well leaving dog leads at beach entrances for local dog walkers to borrow to help keep these animals away from the vulnerable birds.
“Another highlight was seeing two fledglings at Fishery Bay Beach which is a very busy beach near Port Lincoln. We fenced off their nesting area and put signage up to alert beach-goers to the presence of these vulnerable birds.
“It was a risky site for the birds to nest and it was really rewarding – and somewhat unexpected – to see that the chicks were able to survive on such a high traffic beach.
“The nesting pair is back on Fishery Bay already this breeding season so it will likely need high levels of intervention again.”
The Hooded Plover breeding season usually runs from August until March on Eyre Peninsula.
With the new breeding season for Hooded Plovers now in swing across the region, the EP Landscape Board urges all beach-goers to look out for signs that alert visitors to the presence of nesting birds; and asks that visitors help these threatened birds by sticking to the water’s edge, keeping dogs on leads and staying well away from any nests, eggs or birds.
Community members who are interested in becoming a trained volunteer to help with bird monitoring including an upcoming population count in November, can get in touch with BirdLife Australia - https://beachvol.birdlife.org.au/login/index.php.
See our STAR page for more information about the project.
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