BEACHGOERS have been reminded to look out for hooded plovers nesting along Mornington Peninsula shorelines with the threatened species at risk of being scared off and their nests trampled by people and dogs.
The Conservation Regulator, Parks Victoria and Birdlife Australia have again launched Operation Save our Hoodies (SoHo), urging people to take note of rules around hooded plover nests and to give the birds plenty of space.
Hooded plovers lay their eggs in shallow sand scrapes from August through to March and where possible nesting sites are fenced for protection.
Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria officers are patrolling nesting sites on the peninsula from Cape Schanck to Portsea, including at St Andrews beach and Rye back beach. Birdlife Australia volunteers also have a presence at beaches to raise awareness of how beach users can help the birds.
If an incubating adult bird is scared away from its nest by passers-by or dogs, its eggs can bake in the sun or become too cold in the cool weather, which can kill the developing chick.
In 2021-22, as part of the inaugural SoHo officers conducted more than 150 patrols along the coast, engaging with 900 people and issuing 44 infringement notices for various offences, including dogs off lead in national parks.
Last breeding season, of the 1003 hooded plover eggs recorded along Victoria’s coastline by BirdLife, 185 hatched and 66 chicks survived to become juveniles.
The Conservation Regulator investigates reports of dogs harassing hooded plovers and reports can be made to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.