This season is shaping up to be the most successful one we have had for several years, with three chicks having fledged (being able to fly and then called juveniles). Flying greatly increases their chances of long-term survival. Juveniles can be distinguished from adult Hooded Plovers by having a grey head in contrast to the adult’s distinctive black head. As the juveniles age black feathers start to appear on the head giving them a spotted-headed appearance. It can take up to nine months before they become adults.
Our first success came from the pair at Ochre Cove when their 3rd nest of the season fledged 2 chicks, the first time we have had a multiple fledging from the one nest in the Onkaparinga region since the 2011-12 season.
Increasing disturbance caused the pair at Snapper Point to move to the southern end of at Port Willunga, near the Star Of Greece carpark, a very busy section of beach. Amazingly their nest was successful and hatched 3 chicks, which all survived for 27 days until 2 of the chicks disappeared on Christmas evening or Boxing day morning.
Unfortunately this was a time when people and dogs had entered area which had been roped off and signposted to protect the chicks. Luckily one chick managed to survive and it fledged early in the new year. It is now regularly sighted with its parents at Snapper Point where they fly to feed before returning to Port Willunga to rest in the soft sand. We would like to thank the beachgoers at Port Willunga for their support and cooperation which enabled a successful outcome for this chick.
The new pair at Moana Beach successfully hatched their 3rd nest and again immediately moved their 3 chicks from the nesting site to the Peddlar Creek outlet (nearly 1km north from the nest). Two chicks disappeared from unknown causes within a few days, but the surviving chick continued to do well inside the roped off area. However, when the chick was 34 days old and just a few days away from being able to fly, 2 unleashed dogs were seen to race into the roped off area and chased the birds and as a result the chick was killed. It was a bitter disappointment and reinforces the need for dog walkers to keep their dogs leashed at all times when near the roped off areas.
The pair that usually nest at Aldinga Beach moved further south to Sellicks Beach. They have nested high on a shingle bank which makes for an interesting nest location, but it is safe from vehicles. This is the first time the beach has been used by hoodies for nesting since we began monitoring 10 seasons ago. Their first nest hatched 2 chicks but they failed to survive for more than a few days. Unfortunately heir second nest failed to hatch and was abandoned by the adults. It appears that the eggs had been damaged by the very hot weather in December.
Nature Conservation staff at the Onkaparinga Council decided to feature the pair that nest at the northern section at Port Willunga (between Lions Head and Blanche Point) on their Facebook page. Both birds have been banded (DP and HV) and they have been together for at least 8 seasons, the longest of any of our pairs. To raise the profile of the hoodies, the Council ran a public naming competition for them in conjunction with the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper, which resulted in the popular vote for the female name of Daphne (DP) and Harvey (HV) for the male. Although all 3 nesting attempts resulted in chicks sadly none have survived.
Sue and Ash Read – Volunteer Coordinators Hooded Plovers Onkaparinga Region