The Private lives of Hooded Plovers

Monday, 17 April 2023

  • Estimated reading time 2 min

The Private lives of Hooded Plovers

Movements of leg-flagged birds reveal family secrets

Back in February 2022, the Beach-nesting Birds team flagged a family of Hooded Plovers — two adults with their juvenile at Seal Creek, in East Gippsland. The two adults were flagged with ‘YE Orange’ and ‘SL White’, while the juvenile was flagged ‘EB White’.

The juvenile bird has since been seen by BirdLife Australia’s Monitoring Program Coordinator, Joris Driessen, as an adult with an unbanded partner at Nadgee Beach, in southern NSW, last October.

What was quite unexpected was a sighting of the adult bird YE Orange in January, on Rigby Island in the Gippsland Lakes. This was a great record, especially for the observers, including John Hutchison, from BirdLife East Gippsland. There have been no Hooded Plovers flagged within the Gippsland Lakes system, so observing a Hooded Plover with a leg flag came as quite a surprise!

What made this an unexpected sighting is that YE Orange was seen during the breeding season, so it makes us wonder if there had been a divorce with its original partner, SL White. The last time they were seen together was back in October 2021. It’s possible that SL White is still at Seal Creek, as a white flagged bird was recorded there during last year’s Hooded Plover Biennial Count, conducted in November, but the flag couldn’t be read. It will be interesting to see what happens at Seal Creek at the start of the next breeding season.

Thanks to John Hutchison for the flag information and photos. The banding trip was supported by Glenelg Catchment Management Authority via funding through the National Landcare Program.

This item first appeared in issue 28 of Word About the Hood.