Hooded Plovers Thinornis rubricollis mating in Victor Harbor

on 25th August 2023

Wong Kais has never seen a Hooded Plover in Victor Harbor in his many forays to the beach. He often encountered the warning sign to stay clear of the vegetation where these birds are supposed to breed. These plovers breed between August and March each year. They spend winter inland. Around mid- August 2023, a perceptible change in the ambient temperature and sudden profusion of flowers signalled the approach of spring. Training his birdwatching binoculars on a flock of silver gulls (Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae) feeding at the water’s edge, Wong Kais unwittingly spotted a pair of these plovers a distance away from the gulls. They were very well concealed amongst the beach wracks. These wracks are mainly composed of Sargassum spp. , kelps, sponges and sea balls.

Wong Kais visited the birds on two consecutive days and on 21 August 2023, documented a pair of the birds copulating.

Image 1: Sea balls collected from the sandy beach, Victor Harbor. 25 August 2023. Wong Kais.
Image 2: Sea kelp washed up on sandy beach, Victor Harbor. Wong Kais 23 August 2023.
Image 3: Daisies blooming profusely. Victor Harbor. Attribute Wong Kais. 9 August 2023.
Image 4: A Hooded Plover sighted on the sandy beach at Victor Harbor. It is a very quiet bird that blends in with the surrounding beach wracks. Attribute to Wong Kais. 21 August 2023.
Image 5: The pair of plovers stand about 0.5 m apart. They are very quiet and take very dainty steps while moving around on the beach. They were difficult to spot. Attribute to Wong Kais. 21 August 2023.
Video 1: Attribute Wong Kais. 21 August 2023. The quiet birds started dainty stepping and one bird (presumably the male) approached the other (presumably the female) from behind, hopped onto its back and quick copulation took place. The female then ran off, causing the male to fall off. Each then resumed their search for food amongst the seaweeds on the beach.
Image 6: One of the birds sitting quietly on the sand. Attribute to Wong Kais. 21 August 2023.
Image 7: One of the birds seen at the water edge after the mating process. Attribute to Wong Kais. 21 August 2023.
Video 2: After the copulation, the birds maintained their 0.5 m distance and went back to their routine of staying still. Attribute Wong Kais. 21 August 2023. Video by handheld camera.

These plovers are native to Australia and are found on beaches facing the Southern Ocean. They are vulnerable as they nest amongst Spinifex plants in the sand dunes. In Victor Harbor, signboards urge people who visit the beach to stay away from the Spinifex spp. clumps. Read this post by green adelaide https://www.greenadelaide.sa.gov.au/discover/native-animals/hooded-plover to discover more of these elusive birds.

References:

  1. Fleurieu Birds by Peter Gower 2019
  2. https://www.greenadelaide.sa.gov.au/news/2022-first-hoodie-fledglings
  3. https://birdlife.org.au/bird-profiles/hooded-plover

NOTE to readers: Wong Kais maintained his distance from the birds while watching and documenting their activities.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

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