Every two years (in even years), BirdLife Australia's Beach-nesting Birds (BNB) team coordinates a population count with the primary aim of counting the number of Hooded Plovers in their Eastern mainland range. Hundreds of volunteers simultaneously survey thousands of kilometres of coast on a given weekend in November and this gives us the closest estimate of how many hoodies we have in the population.
Over time, the count has expanded to include surveys of other coastal regions for species of beach-nesting birds, such as a count of Red-capped Plovers on the Samphire coast.
This count is a great way to participate in helping threatened beach-nesting birds, particularly if you are unable to commit to anything more regular or involved. You may like to survey your local beach or put your hand up to travel further afield and count a more remote section of coast.
This role requires a low level of training.
The beach-nesting birds program coordinates population counts for target locations and species to better understand how populations are tracking and to ensure we can have early warning of population changes.
One such population count is the Beach Stone-curlew count, initially aiming for thorough coverage of Southern QLD and over time aiming to achieve a statewide count of their distribution and population size, to better guide conservation efforts.
Population counts are a great way to participate in helping threatened beach-nesting birds, particularly if you are unable to commit to anything more regular or involved. You may like to survey your local beach or put your hand up to travel further afield.
This role requires a low level of training.
• Participating in a population count within a given time frame
• Recording sightings on paper data sheets
• Entering data onto the Birdata Portal and/or submitting data sheets to your regional coordinator
• Complete a short, online induction
• Good fitness
• A keen eye
• Record keeping skills
The Beach-nesting Birds team is coordinating a Fairy Tern Population census along the entire eastern range of the species, from South Australia to southern New South Wales. This census is being conducted during the 2023/2024 breeding season and involves three surveys to capture different stages of the breeding cycle. First survey is in October 2023, second in December 2023 and third in February 2024. Each survey will be conducted within as narrow a time window as possible across all sites to obtain the most accurate population estimate of mature individuals and distribution.
This is the first time a census for the Fairy Tern is conducted simultaneously across multiple states and will provide a much needed snapshot of the size of the eastern subpopulation, which has undergone a steep decline in the last few decades and is estimated to be only ~1500 adults. The census is funded by the Australian Government.
This census is a great way to participate in helping a threatened beach-nesting bird, particularly if you are unable to commit to anything more regular or involved. You may like to survey your local area or put your hand up to travel further afield and count a more remote section of coast.
This role requires a low level of training.
This is one of the most important roles a volunteer can play in the conservation of beach-nesting birds. Information about the birds, their nesting successes and failures, and the threats at breeding sites is pivotal to guiding our conservation actions, and to evaluating our success at helping these birds.
A volunteer monitor typically commits to helping monitor a given pair of birds or a particular beach, or can be someone who travels to multiple sites and reports sightings of behaviours such as breeding, flocking or details of flagged/banded birds.
For breeding pairs, ideally we would like to build a complete picture of a given pair of birds or nesting site over the entire breeding season, which can mean a weekly visit over the peak breeding months. We understand, however, that not everyone has this much time to give. We aim to therefore have a number of volunteers who can share the monitoring of a given pair of birds and we encourage participants regardless of availability.
Victorian participants will require a free Victorian Working with Children Check with BirdLife Australia listed as a nominated organisation.
This role requires a high level of training.
A volunteer monitor typically commits to helping monitor a particular colony or breeding site, or can be someone who travels to multiple sites and reports sightings of Fairy Terns and their behaviours such as breeding or details about banded birds. BirdLife Australia currently has three established Fairy Tern projects and a Little Tern project:
For breeding colonies, ideally we would like to build a complete picture of the colony or breeding site over the entire breeding season, which can mean a weekly visit over the peak breeding months. We understand, however, that not everyone has this much time to give. We aim to therefore have a number of volunteers who can share the monitoring of a given colony and we encourage participants regardless of availability. Please note however, we currently only have a few small projects running in specific locations. Due to the limited number of monitored sites, and the limited accessibility of these sites (most are islands and require boat access), there might not be a lot of opportunities to participate in field work. We are however always after reports on sightings of Fairy Terns as this can help establish new sites to monitor.
This role involves responding to management alerts and setting up protective signage and fencing around vulnerable nest and chick sites. Depending on the support networks in place, this can either be done independently being guided by BirdLife Australia's Beach-nesting Birds team, or as part of an on-ground response team, working with land managers and/or other volunteers.
This role requires a high level of training and as a prerequisite you would also need to be registered as a Monitor/Citizen Scientist.
This role involves spending time on the beach near an active breeding site, more commonly when chicks are present, to engage with beach users in an educational capacity. Beach users may be unaware of the plight of the birds, or the presence of newly-hatched chicks, and may not pay attention to signage. The presence of a guardian during this vulnerable time for the birds can be a great opportunity to get the beach-using community interested in the birds and sympathetic to their plight, resulting in improved compliance with on-site protection. While on the beach, guardians collect additional information and report this to BirdLife Australia's Beach-nesting Birds team. This helps us learn more about the beach use at given sites such as peak times of use and main types of activities.
This role requires a high level of training and as a prerequisite you would also need to be registered as a Monitor/Citizen Scientist. All Beach-nesting Bird Guardians must obtain a Working with Children Check (or equivalent for your State or Territory) with BirdLife Australia listed as a nominated organisation.
You will be given restricted access to our set of best practice protocols and data sheets for using motion-sensing infra-red cameras (remote cameras for short) in the field on active Hooded Plover, Pied Oystercatcher or Red-capped Plover nests. You will need to ensure you are operating under a relevant state permit and ethics approval. We also need to be kept in the loop about any camera locations, and would like to be informed of locations, even if they are under a project approval separate to BirdLifes project, as then we are aware of the current density of cameras in the field. Most public Beach-nesting bird enquiries come through BirdLife Australias Beach-nesting Birds Team.
Remote cameras on beach-nesting birds nests are a useful tool to obtain information about predator suites, hatching success and nest fate. Collecting this information from direct observations in the field is very difficult and often involves assumptions from the observer, such as guessing the fate of eggs that have disappeared based on predator footprints around the nest. Remote-sensing cameras reduce the uncertainty of these assumptions as often we can obtain photographic evidence of roaming predators, hatching and nest predation. Cameras are ideal for those sites where nesting pairs have had multiple years of nest failures, and also for remote locations, where frequent monitoring of the pair is difficult.
Volunteers can assist at events that our staff or regional groups are running, or even volunteers may like to organise and run events independently, with some support/resources from BirdLife Australia. Events include Dogs Breakfasts, stalls at festivals or markets, craft activities etc.
Volunteers can assist staff in excursions or visits to schools, or can independently line up presentations or activities with their local schools, through discussions with BirdLife Australia. All participants must obtain a Working with Children Check (or equivalent for your State or Territory) with BirdLife Australia listed as a nominated organisation.
Volunteers can assist with interviewing or handing out surveys to beach users or particular groups so that we can learn more about the values, attitudes and behaviours of these groups. You can also approach us with an idea.
If you are a ranger, council employee, government agency employee, or your professional work involves managing or monitoring beach-nesting birds, their habitats, coastal users or coastal planning, then please register as a land manager.
Have a look at our educational resources! If you are an educator and would like a hard copy of our Education Kit and a USB with activities and presentations, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beach-Nesting Birds Education Kit
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