The Hooded Plover is one of the shore birds found at the Prom where it inhabits sandy ocean beaches. They forage at all levels of the beach during all tide phases. They are most usually seen in pairs or small groups, darting about at the water’s edge as waves recede, bobbing and pecking along the shore. They lay their eggs in shallow scrapes in the sand, above the high‐tide mark or among dunes. Usually one or two eggs hatch after about 30 days of incubation.
As visitor numbers at the Prom expand, Hooded Plovers face formidable obstacles to breed successfully and their conservation status in Victoria is listed as ‘Vulnerable’. They breed and raise their chicks between November and April, which is also the busiest time for visitors to the Prom’s beaches. Hooded Plovers don’t like to nest in areas heavily infested with Sea Spurge because it obstructs their line of sight for the approach of predators. This can make whole sections of the beach unviable for nesting. During this time they are vulnerable to predators as well as unwitting human visitors enjoying a stroll along the beach.
Friends of the Prom works with Prom rangers and Birdlife Australia to manage the risks to Hooded Plovers. Apart from our project to remove Sea Spurge from Squeaky Beach, signs have been erected at the entrance to the Prom’s main beaches. The signs explain why Hooded Plovers are so vulnerable and advise visitors to keep away from the dunes and stay on the packed wet sand close to the shoreline. Temporary fences are erected on the beach around nests to inform visitors of these risks and provide the birds with a safe haven. Frequent surveys of Hooded Plover numbers allow managers to monitor the population trend.