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Hooded Plover update

The Hooded Plover breeding season is officially over; this season saw a total of 8 chicks successfully fledge from 14 pairs, which leads to a fledged per pair rate of 0.57 (above the sustainable population target of 0.47).

While 8 chicks to fledging seems low, it is consistent with what we would expect from 14 pairs and above the last 5 year average of 0.55). The number of breeding pairs is a little down on the long term average of eighteen for the last twenty years; however, it may be weather-related or due to a natural fluctuation in population numbers. It will be interesting to see what next year brings!

During winter, many Hooded Plovers and their young leave nesting territories and move into small flocks to feeding beaches on and off Millowl (Phillip Island). To track these movements, yellow identification flags have been placed on the upper leg of all this seasons fledglings. One of these fledglings ‘Yellow 4B’ was banded on Phillip Island at Crazy Birds Beach on 02/03/23. It stayed on the island and was last seen 21/04/23 on Phillip Island in a flock of nine at Summerlands Beach. Since then it has moved 70km west to 13th Beach on the Bellarine Peninsula where Brett Diehm photographed it amongst a flock of local birds. This is fairly typical for young birds to move away from where they fledged, most likely looking for a partner and a suitable beach to breed next season.

Hooded Plovers will start breeding again in late August to early September. If you live locally, you can look out for signage and roped nest refuges. You can help them by walking on the wet sand as you pass by and keeping dogs on lead. Or, you may wish to adopt a Hooded Plover to support research and conservation efforts to support these beautiful and vulnerable birds.

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