Plover lovers celebrate breeding success on Yorke Peninsula
Natural Resources Northern and Yorke and Friends of Hooded Plover volunteers are excited after recording the first successful breeding attempts of the season, with two chicks fledging at Hardwicke Bay, and one chick at Port Rickaby last week.
Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Community Ranger Janet Moore said the success was a direct result of volunteer efforts and the willingness of the community to give the birds enough space to raise their young.
"Hooded plover chicks cannot fly for the first five weeks of life, and they must remain close to their food source, seaweed at the water’s edge, leaving them extremely vulnerable to disturbance and predators," Ms Moore said.
"Fledging is the stage of the life cycle where the chicks have grown and are able to fly away from predators, and are considered independent."
Ms Moore said that once chicks had reached the crucial five week mark, their chances of survival dramatically increases.
Numbers of the small shorebird have been declining across southern Australia, as they struggle to find undisturbed places on the beach to breed, resulting in a high nesting failure rate and an unsustainably low population growth.
Natural Resources Northern and Yorke staff and Friends of Hooded Plover volunteers monitor breeding pairs regularly between August and March, and implement protective measures to improve their chances of breeding success.
Ms Moore said that temporary fencing and signs alert beach goers to the birds’ presence so that they can still enjoy the coast, but know which areas to avoid.
"These measures have proven to be successful in coastal towns like Hardwicke Bay and Port Rickaby, where the fenced area gives the birds a refuge when the beach is crowded."
"Against all odds, including vandals pulling the fences and signs down, all three chicks have managed to fledge; it’s an absolute miracle they survived."
The monitoring of hooded plovers is a Naturally Yorke project, supported by BirdLife Australia.
If you are interested in joining the Friends of Hooded Plover volunteers, or would like further information please contact Janet Moore at Natural Resources Northern and Yorke on 0447 418 391 or email@example.com.