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Endangered!—Australia's Hooded Plovers

AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 13 January 2024 | Views [89]

Hope for the Future—Hooded Plover Chick, Point Lonsdale

Hope for the Future—Hooded Plover Chick, Point Lonsdale

HOODED PLOVERS ARE ENDEMIC TO AUSTRALIA—this means they are found nowhere else in the world. Fewer than 7000s—possibly only 3000—individuals all live along the sandy beaches of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. With the increase in recreational pressure on the beaches you might think that BirdLife Australia, Oz’s answer to the United Kingdom’s RSPB and the Audubon Society in the US, would try to hide the location of Victoria’s 700 endangered Hoodies.


                                                    Made in Australia

Au contraire. For almost 20 years BirdLife’s Beach-nesting Birds Program has aimed to raise awareness among beach-goers about their impact on the tiny birds. The more people become aware the more they will be concerned about their impact on them and the more likely they will be to help. Or so the theory goes.


           Point Lonsdale Lighthouse

Obviously we are aware and spent the day actively seeking them out. We followed eBird reports of sightings to the charming seaside town of Lonsdale with its lighthouse. We checked out the beach and tide-pools but turned back when we decided the beach was too crowded for plovers to hang about. 


                   Great Beaches but look out for plovers


                          Pacific Golden Plover, Blue Rocks

Stop #2 on the eBird list at Blue Rocks rewarded us with several Red-Necked Stints, a pair of Sooty Oyster Catchers, a few Pacific Golden Plovers and some first-hand information. The other birder told us there were three Hooded Plovers about 500 meters along the beach from Lonsdale Point Lighthouse—just a bit beyond where we turned around.


              BirdLife Australia Beach-nesting monitor

The tide had turned by the time we got back to the beach forcing us to trudge through the soft sand. Up ahead a woman in a neon safety vest stood out incongruously on the beach. It turns out she was one of BirdLife’s Beach-nesting project volunteers, explaining to all and sundry about the Hooded Plovers and pointing out the marked boundaries of their territory. Awareness!


                       Member of the Hooded Plover Band


                      Chick checking out the neighborhood

With Connie’s binoculars and my telephoto lens we could get plenty close enough without bothering the birds, a breeding pair and a single chick. One of the adults had a visible leg band and the other was nestled in the sand while the chick was getting acquainted with its home. Pretty cool.


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