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KINDLY ASSIST BY LOCATING BEACH BREEDING BIRDS

Posted on the 21st September 2017

LOCATING KEY BREEDING SITES OF AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER AND WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER ALONG THE OVERSTRAND BEACHES

This is one of the priority projects identified during the BirdLife Overberg workshop on the Overstrand coastline and estuaries. We will attempt to identify breeding sites of African Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers on beaches along the Cape Whale Coast during the summer of 2017 and 2018. This is an appeal to all beach users to report such sites, together with GPS coordinates at birding@overberg.co.za 

Once these breeding sites have been recorded educational campaigns will be launched at these key breeding sites during the summer of 2018 and 2019. These campaigns will largely be based on posters, brochures and media releases developed by Dr Mark Brown and his team at the Nature’s Valley Trust. The images used herewith were provided by the Nature’s Valley Trust, unless differently specified.

African Black Oystercatcher on nest - Anton
White-fronted Plover - Image by Anton Odendal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEREWITH A BLOG FROM THE NATURE’S VALLEY TRUST’S WEBSITE EXPLAINING ITS WORK ON WHITE-FRONTED PLOVERS:
“September saw our third White-fronted Plover breeding season take flight as part of our Coastal Impact Programme. The previous season’s stats painted quite a dreary picture, with less than 10% of the breeding attempts actually yielding successful fledglings. White-fronted Plovers are a very inconspicuous shore-nesting bird. They have very effective camouflage that aids with predatory defence but this can also be a detrimental trait. This is especially true in amply populated areas where beach use is high, as most beach visitors don’t even realise they are there!
Our observational data suggests that White-fronted Plovers recognise danger approaching about 30m away from their nest (long before we notice them), at which point they get ready to duck out. On a bad day, leaving the eggs or hatchlings unattended can mean death by predator (this includes dogs), trampling, or boiled eggs in the hot sun-baked sand. It takes only about 5 minutes for a plover egg to overheat - that’s why it’s best to stay out of territories and avoid lingering.

Spot the breeding bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dogs off leashes are often the culprits for scaring parents off the nests and leaving the young open to attack by natural predators, that is if Fido doesn’t use them as a toy or welcome mid-morning snack himself first. Chicks also have a “stop and freeze” reaction to threats. This mechanism is initiated by a whistle from the parents, at which point they drop to the ground and freeze – not moving a feather until mom says the coast is clear. They literally disappear against the sandy background – this is good against predators but they stand no chance against a boot, and are sometime literally trampled to death...
This season we will be implementing our #ShareTheShores campaign to educate beach users on our feathered friends and how to share our beaches with them. The overarching message being not to exclude anyone but to enable visitors to use our beaches more responsibly with regards to coastal habitats, their animals and our ability to co-exist with beach biodiversity.
You will find our conservation team on Lookout Beach as well as Nature’s Valley handing out pamphlets and ready to have a chat about the work we do. We are also doing our standard nest monitoring and will be implementing nest signs at least 30m away from nests that will serve as reference points, beyond which walking should be avoided. It is best to keep dogs on leashes and walk on the wet sand line to ensure that all our shorebirds can nest and thrive on our beaches.”

Educational poster developed by the Nature's Valley Trust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sign warning beach users of a breeding site
Note the fishing line bin - the distribution of such bins along our coast is another project identified by BirdLife Overberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT ISSUES TO KEEP IN CONSIDERATION:
BE AWARE… Shore-nesting birds are very sensitive to threats entering their territory. They become defensive, standing, running or flying away. 

Remaining too close to their nests causes defensive behaviour and depending on the species they will dive-bomb, call & shriek, or even pretend to have a broken limb to lure your attention from their nests. 

White-fronted Plover at nest
A clear illustration of the vulnerability of White-fronted Plover chicks on our beaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These behaviours may attract the attention of nearby predators to the nests and young.
Extensive time defending their territory while off the nest can also cause egg/chick death due to heat exposure.
THREATS TO SURVIVAL: Shorebirds nest and lay their eggs on beaches in shallow scrapes in the sand. The nests are often very well camouflaged and unsuspecting beach users may accidentally trample them. When nesting birds are forced to leave their nests, their eggs and chicks are left vulnerable to the elements and to predators. Disturbances that cause birds to take flight or leave their young may threaten their survival.
IMPORTANCE OF NESTS: Populations of shore-nesting birds are rapidly declining due to modification of beaches by human expansion and development. The success of each nest may therefore be critical for the survival of that species.
CALL TO ACTION! Birds become agitated and leave the nest when you are too close. Stay at least 30m away.
Give them some space and avoid designated nesting areas.
Even well-trained dogs can be perceived as a threat. Keep dogs leashed where required.
Do not litter or feed wildlife. Food attracts wild animals which may prey on birds, their chicks and even eggs.
Spread the word! If you see people disturbing nesting areas, gently remind them of how their actions are affecting the birds.

AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER WITH CHICK- Image by Charles Naude
A large black bird with pink legs & long and bright orange bill. Near-threatened with a global population of only 6600 – We are not sure how many birds occur in the Overstrand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER - Image by Martin Taylor of BirdLife South Africa
Small, camouflaged birds that always return to the same nesting area & may pretend to be injured to distract you from their nest – We are not sure how many birds occur in the Overstrand


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE EXAMPLES OF EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL DEVELOPED BY THE NATURE'S VALLEY TRUST:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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