Cause of death of plover chick revealed

A necropsy has revealed the cause of death of a Hooded Plover Chick found at Robe on New Year’s Day.

The death of the chick at Robe’s Long Beach was described by Friends of Shorebirds SE as “a shocking start to 2018”.

At the time, Friends of Shorebirds SE determined that the death was due to vandalism.

They said volunteers arrived at about 8am on New Year’s Day to check on the Hoodies and found the site had been vandalised for the third night in a row, with chick shelters smashed and the dead chick found nearby.

New information regarding the circumstances of its death has come to light.

The carcass was sent to BirdLife Australia in Victoria for a necropsy, and results revealed that the chick died from the result of crush trauma, suspected to have been inflicted by a dog. The Friends of Shorebirds SE said this suggested that the death was the result of being picked up by a dog and crushed.

The friends group said the nesting site where the chick was being raised by parent birds is a leash-only zone, but volunteers regularly observe dogs let off-lead, particularly during the summer months.

This results in significant stress for the Hooded Plovers as dogs can attack the chicks or interfere with eggs in the nest. Even disturbing the parent birds on the nest leaves chicks or eggs vulnerable to predation by other birds or at risk of exposure to either heat or cold.

Chairman of the friends group Jeff Campbell, said: “It’s a terribly difficult period for all of our beach nesting birds with the influx of vehicles, dogs and people to their nesting areas.

“During the New Year period the nesting site was repeatedly interfered with and the signs, ropes and chick shelters were pulled out and smashed.

“The unnecessary death of a Hooded Plover chick is a tragic result for this threatened species. Sadly, we’ve also had a report of a recently fledged Pied Oystercatcher chick death near Nora Creina, the result of having been run over by a four-wheel drive vehicle.

“We are trying to increase people’s awareness of beach-nesting shorebirds through signage, temporary fencing around nests, and through events like the Dog’s Breakfasts that were held recently in various coastal towns.

“What we need is some space while they are nesting and simple things like putting your dog on a leash ensures that the nesting site is not interfered with and that the eggs and chicks are safe. We just ask people to share the beach with the birds.”