Hooded Plovers are listed as near-threatened in Victoria and critically endangered in New South Wales so it is a federally listed threatened species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC). There have been sporadic sightings of HPs on Balnarring and Somers beach since at least 2014 but never before have they been recorded breeding in the area.
This year two flagged birds (Y33 and Y44) turned up. These birds were both flagged on Phillip Island about three years ago and have been wandering different parts of the coast and Victoria since – one was recorded as being in the Colac area last year!
It’s incredibly exciting that the three chicks of Y33 and Y44 have made it to fledgling stage given that the beaches are frequented by people, dogs (leashed) and even horses. The two birds have had three nests this year. The first nest failed due to tidal inundation, the second due to predators (dogs and/or ravens) but the third produced the chicks on 17 January, 2021. All three survived and fledged on 21 February.
The President of Friends of the Hooded Plover (Mark Lethlean) said, “I cannot overstate how remarkable and unusual this achievement is on the Mornington Peninsula. In the past ten years, we have only recorded two other pairs that have fledged all three of their chicks. In the last two years the total number of fledged chicks on the whole Mornington Peninsula has only been six birds each year. This will be a remarkable contribution to our local population.”
In March, two members of the Beach-nesting program from BirdLife Australia visited Somers to band the new residents and make sure they are healthy and safe. Some Year 7 students on Camp at LSC at the time happened to be doing a beach activity and received an impromptu presentation on the nesting habits of the species. Through banding the birds and collecting data, BirdLife Australia are able to improve breeding conditions for the HPs.
Photos are courtesy of Somers resident Geoff Hall who has been looking out for the HPs and keeping an eye on their progress.
We’re so chuffed about our new friends on the beach and hope there’ll be more joining them in future seasons.