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The breeding season for Hooded Plovers has not started well. The pair at Moggs Creek lost two eggs from their first clutch, and the third chick lived for only a day.

Its fate is unknown but there were disturbances on the beach including hang gliders, which cast a large shadow onto the beach as they land, causing the birds to disperse.

However, the pair are now in the process of laying a second clutch in the same area as before. The male is the same bird who successfully raised two chicks alone last year after the female died. The new female does not have identifying leg bands.

Rare evidence of the endangered native Tiger Quoll has been found in the Otways. A visitor from Tasmania, who had been camping and hiking in the Cumberland River area, came across a scat. She had completed several years of PhD field work with Spot-tailed Quolls in Tasmania and was able to confidently identify the scat as belonging to a quoll. She contacted Lizzie at the Conservation Ecology Centre in Cape Otway and as a consequence, they decided to take their specially trained dogs to the Cumberland area. One of the dogs, Ted, headed into a log area off the side of a track and was alerting in a green mossy place. A scat was lying near some feathers. It was very exciting to know that two quoll scats had been located in that area. Unfortunately the scat was a few weeks old and not suitable for DNA testing.

Ted was rescued by the Geelong Animal Welfare Society in 2013 and then began a new life at Cape Otway. He became a member of the Otways Conservation Dogs, a team on a special mission to protect the Tiger Quoll from extinction. The dogs are highly trained and must pass rigorous assessments before they are deployed to work under a Research Permit in the National Park.

With regard to the quolls, Conservation and Research Manager Dr Jack Pascoe said, “The fact that the evidence collected over the last few years is so widespread is encouraging as it suggests this is not just one or two individuals, but a small population. However, sightings of quolls are rare and confirmed evidence is scarce and the species’ future is precarious. We need to gather data as quickly as possible to understand where quolls are surviving and how viable their population is.” (Part of the above information is from a Media Release provided by Ranger, Katrina Lovett.)

There have been recent reports of sightings of Eastern or Common Koels in parts of Victoria, including areas of Gippsland and in Melbourne suburbs. This bird has also been heard in Torquay. It has a very distinctive call. The Koel is a migratory cuckoo which winters in PNG and Indonesia and arrives in Australia about September where it remains until March or April. They are usually found in eastern NSW, Queensland and the Top End.

Following a mammal survey near Reedy Creek, the Friends of Eastern Otways enjoyed a walk from Big Hill Road to Kelsall’s Rock. It was a strenuous walk and everyone was very pleased to be able to rest on top of the rock and admire the extensive forest views. However, Peregrine Falcons had a nest site on a ledge somewhere in the rock wall below. The parent birds showed annoyance at our being there and were constantly calling and flying above us. We appreciated the opportunity to observe so closely the birds in flight.

The swan family has returned to the Allen Noble Sanctuary with the three cygnets. Just near the track on my regular walk I saw and heard Grey Butcherbirds feeding two demanding young ones. At Painkalac Reservoir an Eastern Long-necked Tortoise was seen by employees of Barwon Water making its way along a track near the Dam.

Kaye Traynor