KW was the only known chick from the last clutch of eggs for the 2018/19 breeding season belonging to its parents’ XT (female) and JZ (male) at the Koonya West site. JZ, its father, was a legend himself in that up until his disappearance at the end of the last season was one of the oldest Hooded Plovers known to us. JZ was first banded as a juvenile on the 3rd of March 1997 at Gunnamatta so he was at least 22 years old at the time of his disappearance!
KW was born around the 8th of January from a nest that survived the Christmas onslaught of visitors to the Morning-ton Peninsula. Volunteers Karen Wootton, Chris Willocks, Diane Lewis, Rosalba Catena, Graeme Millar, Joan McPhee, and Glenn Ehmke did a fantastic job in monitoring this site and great support was offered by Parks Victoria rangers Harry Bainbridge, Jessica McKenzie, and Holly Barker. The rangers helped with fencing the nest and installing signs both on the beach (flanking the nest site) and at the access point. KW as a chick was observed to be very active with Chris adding to one of her entries on the portal, “This is the most active chick I have ever seen. Running all over lower beach with JZ trying to supervise.”
On the 13th of February when KW was 36 days old (possibly already fledged at 35 days), it was decided that we should attempt to catch and attach a leg flag to it because birds can disperse very quickly after fledging. It was successfully caught and given the leg flag “KW”. The flag KW represented the site name ‘Koonya West’ and also ‘Karen Wootton’, the volunteer who put in a lot of effort in monitoring these birds. KW is amicably known to us as ‘Sweetpea’ which was the name given to it by Karen.
After fledging, it hung around with its parents for a bit and was last seen at the site on 27th of February. It was then seen heading west, sighted at Coppins Lookout beach on 5th March and then at Portsea Sphinx Rocks on the same day. It hung out with the flock at Portsea and was last seen there on 28th of March. The next sighting of KW came from a volunteer on the other side of the Port Phillip Bay at Collendina on the 23rd of June. It was then seen earlier this season on 14th of October with JU (male) at the Collendina 5W site and it seems like they have partnered up, with KW being only 9 months old and still having ‘salt and pepper’ plumage on the head! We are waiting eagerly to hear the good news of them nesting. We only managed to track the journey of KW at a very young age from the east to west thanks to the flag and it shows what important information can be gathered from flagging Hoodies.
By Kasun Ekanayake, Beach-nesting Birds Program Coordinator, BirdLife Australia (from Word about the Hood Edition 22)