Community urged to defend the hood on Tasmanian beaches

Biodiversity Month is held in September each year and NRM North are urging Tasmanians to defend the nesting areas of Tasmania’s threatened Hooded Plover, as Plover Appreciation Day on Monday highlights the start of their breeding season.

Not to be confused with the common Spur-winged plover (Masked lapwing) that hangs out on your local oval or roadside, the Hooded Plover is a small, threatened shorebird that spends its life feeding, breeding and roosting on the sand of many popular Tasmanian beaches. Like other shorebirds, hoodies (Hooded Plover) are vulnerable to human disturbance in their coastal environment. NRM North is working to promote the protection and conservation of Australia’s biodiversity to ensure native habitats are preserved for the future of all Australians.

NRM North Biodiversity Coordinator, Monique Case, says the most vulnerable time for a hooded plover is during the breeding season, which typically falls between September and April.

“Unfortunately, beach use tends to peak at the same time as the breeding season for many shorebirds, including the Hooded Plover. As a result, we are promoting the Be a Good Egg Pledge, to educate the community on how their actions can give hoodies the best chance of survival”.

Hooded Plover lay their tiny specked eggs right on the sand. While they are well camouflaged from predators, they are also incredibly difficult to see and easy to step on! NRM North’s Defending the Hood project will again partner with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, and local community members to identify nests on high-use beaches on the east coast which will be protected with temporary fencing and signage to alert beach-users to keep their distance.

Hooded Plover11_Kim Wormald
Hooded Plover chick. Photo credit, Kim Wormald

Disturbance or destruction of nests by people, dogs, horses and vehicles on beaches are the greatest threat to the species, as well as marine debris, invasive weeds, sea level rise and

extreme weather.

Ms Case says that “Survival rates for Hooded Plovers and other shore birds are greatly improved when we Be a Good Egg and share the shoreline by: staying on the wet sand, picking up any litter or fishing line, check out your beach signs prior to accessing the beach and give a wide berth to any fenced off areas. Many Councils have great dog parks and areas where dogs may be off lead it’s well worth checking out your Council’s website for dog dedicated spaces”.

The Defending the Hood project is supported by NRM North through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.