Life's not always a beach for Yorke Peninsula plovers

News article |

A pilot survey covering a number of key salt lakes on Yorke Peninsula last month has discovered that the beach-nesting hooded plover may also use inland salt lakes for breeding.

Researchers from BirdLife Australia joined staff from Natural Resources Northern and Yorke and Friends of Hooded Plover volunteers to survey a number of salt lakes for breeding activity, following reports from locals and volunteers that the tiny shorebirds were breeding on salt lakes as far as 35 kilometres inland from the nearest beach.

BirdLife Australia’s Beach-nesting Birds Project Coordinator Kasun Ekanayake said that hooded plovers were thought to be exclusive beach nesters in their eastern range, however this may not be the case for Yorke Peninsula’s birds.

“We know that birds in Western Australia use beaches and inland salt lakes for breeding and what we are seeing here is the birds in the western margin of their eastern range, for example in places like Eyre Peninsula and Yorke Peninsula, displaying similar behaviours to their western counterparts,” Mr Ekanayake said.

“During the surveys we were able to capture and tag an adult hooded plover nesting at a salt lake so we hope to monitor its movements to find out whether they actually move between salt lakes and beaches.

“If they use the salt lakes extensively for breeding, we will need to do a thorough assessment of the different threats they face.”

Hooded plover numbers have been steadily declining across southern Australia and the species is listed as vulnerable in South Australia.

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Ranger Janet Moore said that Natural Resources Northern and Yorke was working closely with BirdLife Australia and the community to reverse this trend.

“Over the past few weeks we have been visiting breeding sites with volunteers to provide onsite advice and holding training sessions and running beach walks for interested community members at a number of coastal towns,” Ms Moore said.

The Beach-nesting Birds Project is delivered by the NaturallyYorke Community Action Planning initiative through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

If you are interested in joining the Beach-nesting Birds Project, or would like to report a sighting please contact Janet Moore at Natural Resources Northern and Yorke on 0447 418 391 or janet.moore@sa.gov.au.

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