Hooded plover in Tasmania

To: "William Harvey" <>, <>
Subject: Hooded plover in Tasmania
From: "Ross Macfarlane" <>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2015 16:51:46 +1100
Nice story William. If you are on Facebook, the Hooded Plover page would probably enjoy having you post this story.

-----Original Message----- From: William Harvey
Sent: Sunday, January 04, 2015 10:52 AM
Subject: Hooded plover in Tasmania

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

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