Over the last few months, seven pairs of hoodies have set up their territories along the Surf Coast, from Point Impossible to Moggs Creek.
There are also a few individuals staying around. This year we have seen a change in territory occupancy, which is good for the birds as it strengthens genetic diversity. It does also mean that some very special birds have moved on elsewhere, in particular OmRw who many of you will know about from his history at Moggs Creek over the last few years. (He successfully raised two fledglings single-handedly when his partner, HE, was tragically killed by a fox a day before the chicks hatched.)
So far, this season, there have been multiple attempts at nests, and one chick hatched at Point Roadknight. Sadly, this one and many other attempts have failed due to weather conditions such as very high tides and storms. Fortunately, these birds are resilient and lay multiple clutches during a season.
At last, we have two sets of chicks, one pair at Hutt Gully which arrived on Sunday, January 7, to the proud parents, WT and an unbanded partner, and two chicks at Aireys Inlet close to the estuary, to XS and an unbanded partner. They hatched January 11 and 12. Both of these pairs are recent breeding partnerships with WT being one of ours originating from the Surf Coast.
The Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast (FoHPSC) have swung into action and are actively guarding the chicks as well as engaging with, and educating, beach users about the hoodies and how they can help with their survival.
In addition to this, the FoHPSC have been holding Dogs’ Breakfasts along the coastline, (Torquay, Point Roadknight, Aireys Inlet and Urquhart Bluff) in partnership with the applicable land manager, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) or Parks Vic. This is a way of positively interacting with dog owners and their dogs on the beach, teaching them about the hoodies and about responsible dog management around hoodie breeding sites. This has been enabled by a grant from Coast Care, together with the FoHPSC volunteers giving their time to the events. It is evident from these events that there is a greater level of awareness of the presence of these birds on our beaches than ever before.
It has also been terrific to hear from members of the public, including ANGAIR members, about bird sightings and a single egg along the stretch between Point Roadknight and Urquhart Bluff. What became evident from this communication is that people had noticed there has been no fencing or volunteers on the beach towards the eastern end and were a little unsure as to why.
Breeding pairs are monitored by the volunteers and, once a nest is located, a temporary fence and signage is erected. If the nest is successful and hatches, the volunteers then start wardening the chicks. Fencing is typically disassembled when a nest fails.
If you are down on the beach, close to a hoodie site where they are breeding, please give them plenty of space, walk along the water’s edge past them and, if you have a dog, keep it on a lead.