Thursday 26 February 2015

The Moggs Creek miracle; A Hooded Plover story.

A pair of Hooded Plovers at Moggs Creek were tending their eggs and were very close to their hatching date. Tragically one of them, bearing the leg flag HE, went missing. Its decapitated body was found the day after hatching and the volunteers that were monitoring the beach suspect that it was killed by a fox.

Moggs Creek Hooded Plover chick. Photo: Geoff Gates.

Here is the story that unfolded with comments by Andrea Dennett who posts on the Hooded Plover Volunteers facebook page.

January 2nd: Adult bird HE missing.

January 3rd: Remaining parent bird Om/RW sat on the eggs the whole day without relief under the relentless sun in 40° heat.

January 4th: Three chicks hatch.

january 5th: HE found dead.

Andrea Dennett commented: "When I heard this news my heart sank I honestly did not think they had a hope!! There's three chicks on the sand and only one bird to do all the parenting; all the minding / brooding / defence / attacks, everything without a break or relief!"

Moggs Creek Hooded Plover chick. Photo: Lachlan Manley.

January 28th: Down to two chicks, fox suspected of taking the third.

February 7th: While monitoring the family volunteers noticed that both chicks became active stretching their wings and running about. For no apparent reason the family took flight and flew over at head height and out over the ocean. This was one day before their 'official' fledging date.

February 8th: Both chicks flying strongly and now officially fledged being 35 days old.

Moggs Creek Hooded Plover family. Photo: Lachlan Manley.
Andrea Dennett further commented: "With a little help from human chick-minders, the single parent successfully raised two chicks from hatching to fledging. Just goes to show that you can't underestimate the resilience of our Hoodies - "Making the impossible possible!" I have never heard of a single Hoody successfully raising two chicks 'single-wingedly' from hatching to fledging!"

Moggs Creek Hooded Plover chick. Photo: Lachlan Manley.

The odds against a pair raising their chicks are high, so the achievement of this single parent is nothing short of a miracle. About eight years ago the fledging chances for this species were as low as 5%, but with a lot of hard work and dedication from volunteers and BirdLife Australia, the rate is about normal for vulnerable ground nesting birds; around 50%.

Wader Quest sends a hearty thank you to all those involved in these 'community conservation' projects as we believe that this is the way forward, a network of locally based projects which may, when taken in isolation seem small, perhaps just one or two pairs of birds involved, but together they make a significant difference and add so much to the great work being carried out by larger organisations which would not be able to help in these myriad small battles for survival.

Moggs Creek Hooded Plover family. Photo: Lachlan Manley.
Wildlife volunteers are the greatest people on earth, if you know any, appreciate them!

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