A pair of Hooded Plovers have nested on one of Adelaide’s busiest beaches, delighting coastal officers and volunteers who say the species has not been observed breeding there previously.
The plovers were discovered on October 18 sitting on a nest with two eggs, just south of the Torrens outlet at the north end of West Beach.
Manager of Coast and Marine with Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Tony Flaherty said Hooded Plovers are listed as Vulnerable both nationally and in South Australia, with only about 30 pairs left on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
“While we’ve previously observed non-breeding birds in the City of Charles Sturt during winter, it’s really exciting to have a pair actually establishing a nest in the area,” he said.
Mr Flaherty said as soon as the nest was discovered, temporary fencing and information signs were put up by coastal officers from Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges, and City of Charles Sturt, to clearly show where the plovers are.
“Nesting hooded plovers are a rarity in this area, and we are concerned that many beach users won’t be familiar with them and could inadvertently compromise the nest.
“Responsible behaviour by dog walkers will be crucial to the ability of the plovers to raise their chicks,” Mr Flaherty said.
A 10-year investment in conservation efforts along the Adelaide coast by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board with Birdlife Australia, local councils and volunteers has seen extensive on-ground works, together with community engagement to improve the recovery of Hooded Plovers on the Fleurieu and metro coasts.
A ‘dog’s breakfast’ community pop-up will be held on Monday November 4 from 7.30am raise public awareness about hooded plovers and how beachgoers can help to keep them safe.
Mr Flaherty said that if dogs or people come near, the birds will leave the nest to try and draw attention away from their eggs, leaving the eggs or chicks exposed to the sun and to predators.
“We’re urging all dog walkers that if they see the signs and fencing, to please leash their dog (if not already leashed) and to walk down near the water’s edge.
“It’s also really important not to enter or sit near the fenced area or go into the dunes, or try and ‘herd’ or ‘shoo’ the birds back behind the fenced area.”
Mr Flaherty said the signs and fencing are visible in the dune area on the southern side of the Torrens Outlet.
A flag on one of the West Beach birds - ‘MR’ - indicates this is a pair which has moved from Hallett Cove.
A pair of Hooded Plovers are also nesting at Seacliff Beach with two chicks now hatched.
Signs are posted across the region to alert beach-goers to nesting and chick activity.
This project is jointly funded through the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and BirdLife Australia.