These three eggs, layed in a nest on the Inverloch foreshore, have been destroyed, probably by an off-leash dog.
THE worst possible thing has happened to Inverloch’s Hooded Plovers.
A nest of three speckled ‘hoodie’ eggs, precariously located on the beach at Inverloch’s Point Norman, has been destroyed.
And Hooded Plover Society volunteers are blaming local dog owners for the incident.
The ‘Sentinel-Times’ has also come in for criticism for publishing an article about the plovers in its November 25, 2014 edition, just days before the nest was destroyed.
Describing her “utter devastation” at finding the nest empty on November 29, and a set of fresh human foot (shoe) and dog paw prints in the exact location, Hooded Plover Society member, Bron Dahlstrom, claimed the article in the ‘Sentinel’ may have prompted a local dog owner to destroy the nest on purpose.
“They do that sort of thing you know,” Ms Dahlstrom said.
Photos taken by Ms Dahlstrom, provided to the Sentinel, certainly indicate the presence of a dog but whether an unleashed animal found the eggs on its own and was recovered later by its owner, or the two were complicit in the incident is not known.
Ms Dahlstrom has since agreed it could have been an accident but the outcome is the same – nest and eggs are gone.
It was early in November that Ms Dahlstrom and a friend found the three eggs while checking on a nesting pair and its chick.
“On November 29th, I went to Point Norman. I was keen to ensure that the chick was still OK as I hadn’t seen it for a while and it must be close to fledging.
“First, I went to the enclosure to check the eggs. Inside the enclosure were shoe prints and dog prints. No eggs. I was close to crying. I looked for the hoodies, but didn’t see any. I didn’t have my camera with me, so went home and returned to take photographs of the prints.
“I kept thinking that it was all a mistake and when I returned I’d find that I’d just missed the eggs. I took the photos of the prints in the empty enclosure.”
The next day she came back and saw the chick with its parents but not quite ready to fly.
She says she hopes the chick might be strong enough to “fledge” this week, ensuring that the nesting season at Inverloch isn’t a complete loss.
“Once it can fly, it has a very good chance of surviving, although, people like the man we saw recently with an off-lead German Shepherd, who refused to put his dog on the lead, lessen the chances of it reaching this milestone.
“A woman with a Maltese terrier did put her dog on the lead and was very interested to learn about hoodies. She thought that Hooded Plovers were the same as spur wing plovers which nest off the beach, are much bigger than hooded plovers and attack people to protect their nests. When I explained the difference she promised to always keep her dog on the lead and to walk it away from the breeding areas.”
A local beachgoer had a more even-handed view.
“The majority of people do the right thing but it is a tremendously precarious position to be laying eggs,” he said.
“Certainly there’s the dog issue but it could just as easily be foxes at night or other animals.
“If you come down here in the early morning you’ll see kangaroos jumping around the place, foxes, all sorts. It’s disappointing but not surprising,” he said.