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.

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 24 November 2022. The pair’s last nest with one egg established in the north east just outside the large roped enclosure failed, most likely from the very wet and windy weather of the past week. They have now laid a new egg (their seventh) in a nest about 5 metres away closer to the shore line. A semi-circular rope fence has been erected adjoining the main enclosure advising of the nest’s existence. The pair’s first four attempts at nests (six eggs in total) have now failed from predation, high tides and adverse weather.

Please Note. The nest enclosure 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.

Some Background. Hoodie (tagged Orange YW) and a partner are the most likely breeders in this location. Last season, this pair had 6 nesting attempts and 16 eggs but none hatched, primarily from predation.

2nd Surf Beach east of Wilson Rd

Updated 19 November 2022. It was all action today with six Hooded Plovers observed on the upper beach about 250 metres west of the dune blowout. It appeared there was some territorial disputation going on, with Orange RY, White AS and a new bird, White CP, along with three other non-banded birds, in lots of interesting by-play . After some time, ’Orange RY’ and another bird were seen entering the dune blowout enclosure, White AS and another bird flew away, White CP took off over the water, and a non-banded bird remained in the initial spot. It does not appear that Orange RY and partner have developed any worthwhile nesting scrapes in the blowout – a precursor to a nest with eggs – but they are very protective of their breeding patch. Please refrain from entering the blowout. The site now has a rope enclosure and advisory signs. There have been recent incidents of dogs off lead inside and people ‘boogie-boarding’ down the dunes right through the middle of this breeding site.

Some Background. Hoodie (tagged Orange RY) and a partner are likely breeders in this area, especially in the large sand dune blowout at the eastern end of 2nd Surf Beach. Last season, two chicks hatched from this pair in this location but they did not survive beyond 12 days.

Small bays west of Wilson Rd

Updated 19 November 2022. Just around the rocky headland on the first bay west of Wilson Rd, one pair (AS White Left) and partner have recently been seen at the high tide mark shown courting behaviour (head bobbing and tail flicking), are very cautious and tending to lead threats along the beach. Further west about 300 m, another pair, (AW and DZ White Left) have been seen showing similar behaviour. There is little room for the birds to develop scrapes between the high tide mark and foredune along these bays.

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 this. Try to keep your beach walking to the waters edge and away from the high tide lines.

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 https://beachvol.birdlife.org.au/.  Every little bit of support will help in protecting these amazing birds.

Nature Observations around The Cape

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