The Hooded Plovers of Cape Paterson

Where Are They … and What Are They Up To?

The Cape Paterson coastline is home to a small and very vulnerable beach nesting bird, the Hooded Plover. There are numerous breeding areas in the Cape Paterson area, primarily around Pea Creek estuary/Undertow Bay, along 2nd Surf Beach east of Wilson Rd and the several small bays west of Wilson Rd.

Congratulations – the 2022/23 breeding season has been a great success with 4 fledged juveniles from the four active nesting sites!!

Check out the latest ‘Hoodie’ news for each of these breeding areas in the bold green text below.

Pea Creek Estuary/Undertow Bay Area

Updated 17 March 2023

We have a fledged bird!! After six nesting attempts and 12 eggs, Hoodie pair (Orange YW and partner) finally had two chicks hatch on 4 Feb 23. Sadly, one of the chicks went missing at around 25 days, but the survivor successfully fledged as a juvenile bird on 14 March 23. The bird was banded White KU on the same day watched on by the parents! This is the first bird to fledge at this site since December 2012 – that’s eleven seasons and it is the tenth bird to fledge here since 2004/05 when records first started.

Please Note. This nesting site is in a high foot traffic area, especially at high tide, so please try to stay at the waters edge and keep dogs on a leash as per Council and Parks Victoria regulations. A new sign has been erected by Parks Victoria on the beach near the estuary advising of these regulations.

One of the then two chicks foraging on the upper beach of Undertow Bay on 24 Feb 23

Juvenile White KU in the hands of an Australia Birdlife banding expert when it was banded on 14 March 2023.

2nd Surf Beach east of Wilson Rd

Updated 17 March 2023

Successful fledgling!! Hoodie pair (Orange RY and partner) hatched 3 chicks around 18 Jan 23 from their first three egg nest for the season at the 2nd Surf dune blowout. The one surviving chick finally fledged at 47 days of age near the bommie between 1st and 2nd Surf beaches. This is the first fledged bird in this nesting location since December 2018 and only the sixth bird to fledge since records started in 2009/10.

The one surviving chick fledged on the ‘bommie’ at 47 days of age. Image taken 6 March 23 – the day it was declared fledged.

Please Note. No dogs are allowed on 2nd Surf beach between 9 AM and 6 PM until 14th April 2023. At other times, dogs must be on a leash. Please refrain from entering the sand dunes.

Small bays west of Wilson Rd

Updated 17 March 2023.

The chick in the 1st Bay west of Wilson Rd fledged on 3 March 2023 when it was seen flying a couple of circuits along the beach and returning to the parents. This now juvenile bird was the only one which hatched from a 3 egg nest on 17th January 2023 to Hoodie pair White AS and partner. This is only the second juvenile to fledge from this location in eight seasons.

The juvenile bird photographed near F Break at around 50 days of age. (Image taken 8 March 23)

And another fledgling further west of Wilson Rd!!

Further west of the F Break access track, Hoodie pair (AW and DZ White Left) successfully hatched two chicks from their two egg nest – their third nest attempt for the season. Only one survived which fledged at about 35 days. The bird was banded White DH on 14 March by Birdlife Australia banding experts. This is only the fifth bird to fledge in this area in the past eight seasons when records began.

Juvenile White DH, age 36 days, photographed on 14 Mar 23 after being banded by Birdlife Australia experts.

Please Note. NO DOGS at all (whether on leash or not) are allowed west of the Wilson Rd access point (beacon 24) as per Parks Victoria regulations. A new sign is in place on the upper beach west of the Wilson Rd walking track access advising of this. Try to keep your beach walking to the waters edge and away from the high tide lines. Local Park Rangers and Officer’s from the Office of the Conservation Regulator are monitoring this beach to ensure compliance.

Did You Know – Quick Facts on Hooded Plovers

Hoodies’ are masters of camouflage, well adapted to high energy beaches, and lay eggs in nests which are simple scrapes in sand usually above the high tide land or among dunes. They breed from September to February—the most popular holiday beach time for us humans. Nesting failure rates are 90-95% and an egg has a 2.5% chance of becoming an adult bird. The threats to successful breeding are numerous, including climate change, predators and human pressures. Only 700 adult birds remain in Victoria and there are too few young ‘Hoodies’ being added to the population to sustain it.

If nesting is active, the breeding areas will be easily identified by temporary roped enclosures around the nest area with advisory signage indicating there are ‘Hoodies’ nesting and/or tiny chicks have hatched.

How can you help the Hoodies?

You can help the ‘Hoodies‘ by being aware of their presence and modifying your beach behaviour accordingly:

· Observe and follow the guidance on signage at beach access points, particularly during the crucial breeding period – these beaches are patrolled

· Observe roped off areas and signage where nests are likely – do not disturb the nest or the birds and do not get too close or enter enclosures. Disturbed nests lead to no chicks!

· Access the beach via defined paths and stay out of the dunes and foredunes 

· Walk along the water’s edge and avoid the upper parts of the beach

· Please note that dogs are NOT allowed on the beach at certain periods

· During the times when dogs are allowed, keep them on a leash

· Do not leave dogs unattended while you swim or surf

· If you see the birds on the beach, walk past them about 100m before settling on the sand

The Cape—Supporting the Cape Paterson Hoodies

The Cape Paterson Hooded Plover breeding sites have been “adopted” through a special custodial relationship between Birdlife Australia and a generous financial donation by The Cape sustainable housing development. The donation is supporting a range of initiatives and management plans in ‘on ground’ conservation actions to improve Hooded Plover breeding success rates as part of its overall ecological restoration and conservation strategy. This kind support from The Cape is greatly appreciated. You can do your bit as well by following the simple guidelines above.

Interested in volunteering to help the ‘Hoodies’?

If you are interested in helping local volunteers in the conservation of our wonderful little Hooded Plovers as part of the Friends of the Hooded Plovers Bass Coast, you can find out more and sign up at Birdlife Australia’s beach nesting bird hub  Every little bit of support will help in protecting these amazing birds.

Nature Observations around The Cape

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