The Saga continues.......

Subject: The Saga continues.......
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 18:49:55 +1100

The Saga Continues…..

Our champion pair (one fledgling last year and two the year before!) just south of Narooma attempted to nest early again this season with a two egg nest established on the 15th of October. Much to our disgust, a subsequent visit revealed that the eggs were missing and the protective fencing had been vandalised! This is the first indirect evidence of an attack against threatened shorebirds on the south coast… and hopefully the last! A media campaign in the local paper and ABC radio failed to reveal the perpetrator but gave Hooded Plovers valuable publicity.  It's amazing how well bad news stories travel in the media.  On a brighter note this pair re-nested in December, hatching out three chicks with the aid of a wire nest protector. One chick has since fledged.  

Further south is a small beach surrounded by farmland.  Cows roam the beach making nesting for shorebirds hazardous.  Hooded Plovers have been regularly observed on the beach over the last three seasons but no nesting activity had been recorded until this year.  An electric fence was installed to create a safe-haven for the birds however was subsequently trashed by strong winds. About a month later, undeterred, the female laid two eggs.  A second fence was constructed and a wire mesh protector placed over the nest.  Just prior to New Year both eggs hatched and the chicks fledged six weeks later.

Near Tilba Tilba a local beach regularly hosts a nesting pair of Hooded Plovers, and this year was no exception.  A single egg was located by local beachcomber Patricia Latimer on the 20th of October, but was lost after being smothered by sand-laden winds.  A new nest was found on a small beach to the north however unexpected ocean swells inundated the eggs soon after discovery.  

The local lifeguards alerted us to a two-egg nest at a busy beach just south of Wallaga Lake in the middle of the Christmas Holidays. Heavy human traffic on the beach required the construction of a fence but unfortunately this did not deter a fox whose tracks were seen in the vicinity of the nest four days later. Fox baiting is not an option at this site due to the close proximity of dwellings.  We may consider an electric fence next year.

Mimmosa Rocks National Park yielded three fledged Hooded Plovers last season.  Isolated beaches with wide low dunes and coastal lakes provide excellent habitat for nesting shorebirds.  The season started well with two three-egg nests located by shorebird guru Ron Smith on the 15th of September.  Unfortunately both nests disappeared in mid-October less than a week before hatching.  Ron fears that an adult may have also been taken!!  The National Park has been fox baited continuously throughout the season, but tracks strongly suspected as cat prints, have been seen on the beach.  Despite cat traps set by Steve Raczkowski of the RLPB, the shrewd feline eluded all efforts of capture.  One pair of Hooded Plovers has been regularly sighted on the beach but no new nests have eventuated. Further to the south a pair of Hooded Plovers have attempted to nest twice.  The first nest discovered by Dan Morgan of NPWS was lost to an unknown cause and the second two-egg nest awaits hatching still, five weeks after being laid (four weeks is the norm).  It seems that the eggs are infertile but we don't have the heart to tell the birds who are persevering with their incubation efforts.

At Bournda a three-egg nest noted in early September disappeared after three weeks with fox tracks recorded transversing the sand dunes. Two chicks hatched from a second three-egg nest located by local bridos Derek and Glenys Lambert. Much to their dismay these chicks disappeared the following day.  Ravens sighted searching the dunes near the nesting area are the suspected culprits.  Further down the coast the dedicated Steve Burrows recorded two Hooded Plover eggs, one chick fledged.  

A number of pairs inhabit Nadgee Nature Reserve on the NSW/VIC Border.  This spectacular reserve hosts a number of beautiful isolated beaches perfectly suited for Hooded Plovers.  We plan to visit Nadgee for a few days looking for fledglings in the next couple of weeks.  Well, it's a tough job but somebody has to do it.

To save the Hooded Plover in NSW we need to collect as much information as possible about their predators, their distribution, their nesting needs as well as protecting key sites.  Most importantly we need to get people talking about the birds. That's how you can help.  If you see a Hooded Plover in NSW please let us know.    

Mike Jarman and Jill Keating  
South Coast Shorebird Recovery Coordinators NSW NPWS

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