Hooded plover in Tasmania

Subject: Hooded plover in Tasmania
From: William Harvey <>
Date: Sun, 04 Jan 2015 10:52:55 +1100
I wouldn't call myself a dedicated twitcher but I like to be able to identify the birds around us and enjoy watching their behaviour. My family has a holiday place on the East Coast at Spring Beach. It is not extensive being just under 1 km long but quite wide at some times of the year. In the summer months it is very popular with day-use visitors and other shack owners, swimming and surfing. Many families bring their dogs to enjoy the beach experience. I have been observing a pair of hooded plovers which have nested - if you can call it a nest - on the sand adjacent to an intermittent creek that sometimes breaks across the beach after very heavy rain. They have been there for at least 15 years despite the hazards. Whether they are the same birds is impossible to tell as they are not marked but they use the same location within a few metres each year. Their chosen nesting site is very hazardous also due to big seas reaching across the beach in storms engulfing their nest or the creek flooding, washing away their eggs. They just come back and start again. Despite reports that the species is in decline I am happy to report that during the past two years there are now 4 breeding pairs on the beach and all have produced several clutches per season raising sometimes three chicks from a clutch but more commonly two or even only one. Largely due to the efforts of one keen local, the nesting zones are marked by garden stakes linked with two strands of twine with a laminated message explaining the breeding behaviour and asking visitors to respect the nesting sites and to restrain dogs and small two legged creatures. Given the level of usage on good days, this strategy has worked remarkably well and the public do seem to be assisting by keeping their distance. My family watch in amusement at the behaviour employed the parent birds to lure would be dangerous dogs (and people) away from the nest by incredible feigned injuries, flopping over the sand until the danger has been averted, to return to guard duty on the nest site. The chicks run into the marram grass when danger lurks and will stand rock still behind a single stalk apparently hoping it will conceal them! I observed an unusual event two weeks ago that I have not witnessed before but is perhaps quite common place in bird land. While I was watching one pair with two not fully fledged chicks busily feeding on "sand hoppers" a new bird arrived on the scene, presumably male. He scurried up racing towards the chicks and bowled one over with malicious intent. The parents quickly responded, putting themselves between the interloper and the chicks allowing them to escape. The pair then took an aggressive stance with heads lowered and charged in unison towards the new arrival. It retreated but tried to attack from another angle but the pair showed it the way out in no uncertain terms! They continued to pursue the attacker some distance along the beach until they were satisfied they had done their duty. The new arrival then proceeded to try his luck with one of the other pairs but received the same treatment. Amazing defensive behaviour for a small inoffensive bird like the hooded plover.

<BR> Birding-Aus mailing list
<BR> To change settings or unsubscribe visit:

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU