A helping hand for threatened birds

News article |

Targeted interventions at 25 priority Hooded Plover nesting territories on Eyre Peninsula has resulted in increased success for the survival of these threatened birds.

A helping hand for threatened birds

Targeted interventions at 25 priority Hooded Plover nesting territories on Eyre Peninsula – from Ceduna to Cowell – has resulted in increased success for the survival of these threatened birds.

The results of intervention work on Eyre Peninsula have been published by BirdLife Australia in its Word about the Hood publication. The intervention and monitoring work is undertaken 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.

Port Lincoln based Landscape Officer, Rachael Kannussaar says that increased monitoring of the nesting territories gave the Board insights into the predators that had been hampering the success of the birds’ breeding attempts.

“Consecutive years of regular monitoring by BirdLife volunteers and Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board staff combined with the use of remote sensing cameras has certainly helped us to unravel the likely causes of nest and chick failure across different nesting locations in our region,” Ms Kannussaar says.

“While we can’t do anything about natural occurrences such as high tides, we can help with predation by foxes and feral cats; and interference by visitors and their pets.

“Redcliffs Camp Beach, located south of Tumby Bay, has been monitored by BirdLife volunteers for a number of years, and is a site that we were concerned about after regular monitoring showed us that while fledglings had been confirmed at this nesting territory in the past, no success had been recorded since 2017.

“Prior to the 2021-22 nesting season, we made the decision to begin some targeted intervention work at this nesting territory, with the goal of improving the number of nests reaching the hatching stage and chicks successfully fledging.

“Fox tracks were regularly recorded during monitoring visits and also close to failed nests, so working with nearby landholders, we started targeting them through baiting and canid pest ejectors.

“Feral cats had also been sighted so a series of traps were set amongst coastal vegetation with four of the six cats caught, being adjacent to Redcliffs Beach.”

Landscape officers also installed signage to help beach users identify which section of the beach to avoid during nesting.

A helping hand for threatened birds

Following four years of repeated failed nesting attempts, the Redcliffs Beach Hooded Plover pair successfully fledged five chicks from two separate nesting attempts during the 2021-22 nesting season.

“The combination of on-beach management and targeted predator control adjacent to Redcliffs Beach more than likely contributed to this high number of fledglings,” Ms Kannussaar says.

Similar intervention strategies were implemented during the 2022-23 nesting season, however after three failed nesting attempts, nest site fencing was added to the mix with the hope this would increase the level of protection for nests located in a vulnerable position close to the Redcliffs campsite.

The current (2022-23) nesting season has just finished up with one fledgling confirmed from the Redcliffs pair.

While the exact number of fledglings across the Eyre Peninsula for the 2022-23 won’t be officially tallied up by BirdLife Australia for another few months, Ms Kannussaar says the numbers are looking promising.

“Late in the season we were aware of at least 16 fledglings and had a number of chicks getting close to flying age,” Ms Kannussaar says.

“We have now completed our final year of Hooded Plover monitoring as part of our Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery project; and are really pleased that we’ve been able to see an increase in bird numbers for the Eyre Peninsula during the four years of the project.”

BirdLife Australia will continue to monitor Hooded Plovers across Australia as part of its ongoing beach-nesting program.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer bird watcher please contact your closest office EP Landscape Board office www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ep/contact-us or get in touch with BirdLife via their website www.birdlife.org.au/beach or email beachnestingbirds@birdlife.org.au.

Watch our video to find out more about out Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery project.

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