Plenty of love for plover volunteers

News release
18 April 2019

Volunteers have celebrated a decade of work to help bring Hooded Plovers back from the brink of disappearing in the region.

When the program began in 2009 only 12 pairs of plovers were being monitored on Fleurieu beaches.

Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board presiding member Felicity-ann Lewis said the population was now tracking well, despite storms this season.

“Over the past decade the number of pairs has increased to 29, and the number of fledged chicks has gone from seven in 2009 to 18 in the 2017-18 season,” she said.

“The Hoodie Helpers and Plover Lovers are groups of dedicated volunteers who have worked with the other project members to monitor this vulnerable species and increase awareness of how to protect it.

“Without them and the collaboration with BirdLife Australia and the councils on whose beaches the birds nest, these plovers would be in serious trouble.

“It’s been an amazing effort and the results being achieved are helping the hoodies continue to breed and extend their range through the region.”

More than 60 people attended a recent celebration of the project’s achievements, with volunteers, BirdLife Australia researcher Dr Grainne Maguire and others thanked by Environment Minister David Speirs and Dr Lewis.

The Hooded Plovers project is a partnership between the board and the Onkaparinga, Yankalilla, Victor Harbor, Alexandrina, Marion and Holdfast Bay councils. BirdLife Australia is the lead agency and funds the project with the board and the National Landcare Program.

The youngest Hoodie volunteer is 12-year-old Miles Ramm, who became involved in 2018 after attending a volunteer training session.

“I monitor the Hallett Cove Hoodies every week and I enjoy it because I know that all the information I obtain helps conservation groups like BirdLife Australia to protect these birds and their habitats,” he said.

“It also helps to educate beach-users about their impacts on Hooded Plovers.”

The program monitors nests from Seacliff in the metropolitan area, along beaches on the Fleurieu coast and through to Goolwa.

The Hooded Plover (Thinornis rubricollis) is a small shorebird with a distinctive red beak, red-ringed eye and striking black hood and throat. 

It is listed as vulnerable nationally, with fewer than 800 in South Australia and only 7000 in Australia. The birds make simple nest-scrapes in the sand, and while the eggs and chicks are difficult for predators to spot, they are at great risk of being trampled by beach visitors. Dogs and other animals also pose a threat.

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Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges