After experiencing heavy rain in many locations along the NSW coast we decided to escape the wet weather and come north to Byron Bay. However it seems the rain may have followed us here.
We have been seeing good numbers of fish raptors, White-bellied Sea-Eagles, Brahminy Kites and Ospreys in our travels so far.
Ospreys are a rare sight in East Gippsland however further north they are a relatively common along the coast and in some inland waterways. In early 2012 a young Osprey took up residence in Duck Arm on the Gippsland Lakes. The bird was unlikely to find a mate this far south so it was inevitable that it moved on, but not before a number of local birders managed to see it and get some photos. Here are a few shots of the bird with a fish it is eating from the head end first.
|Photo taken from a boat on Duck Arm, Gippsland Lakes|
|Moving to a quieter spot to finish the meal.|
|This is young female based on the dark neck collar. The bird is still grasping the half eaten fish.|
During our brief stay in Sawtell (just south of Coffs Harbour) we were treated to an Osprey making several dives for fish, all unsuccessful, at the Sawtell entrance. Too far away for any photos unfortunately. Two things were of interest here.
One: Ospreys when catching fish will hit the water talons first and become semi immersed before they take off. Other fish raptors, such as Sea-Eagles, do not enter the water and instead snatch fish from near the surface while in continuous flight. The Osprey we watched hit the water and became semi immersed each time it attempted to catch a fish.
The second point of interest: very close to where the Osprey was diving, less than 15 metres, there were a large number of Crested Terns and Silver Gulls roosting on a sand spit. Also among them was one Little Egret. To my surprise neither the Terns nor Gulls showed much concern for the Osprey. The Terns stood up and shuffled a little and then settled again. The Gulls didn’t seem to move at all. The Little Egret did however depart the sand spit. I took this behavior to indicate Ospreys were not seen as a threat by Terns or Gulls and this may be because they are not a food item for this species of raptor?
Driving through the Northern Rivers region we saw numerous White-bellied Sea-Eagles, Brahminy Kites and Ospreys. During a lunch stop at Wardell, a small hamlet on the Richmond River, I noticed a tall treated pine pole on the opposite bank of the river with an unusual structure on top. On closer inspection it turned out to be a nest and perching platform for Osprey with two Osprey in residence, one on the nest and one on a perch below eating a large silver fish – see photos below.
|Note the large power pole to the right of the Pacific Highway bridge.|
|Note one bird on the nest and the other bird eating a large silver fish.|
Given the proximity to a large power pole visible in the photo to the right of the Osprey pole I wondered if the pole was there to provide an alternative nesting platform to the adjacent power pole. A Google search soon revealed this to be the case – see link:
Nesting poles are provided by the energy companies to achieve a win-win outcome – protection of power distribution assets and improved breeding opportunities for Ospreys. We have come a long way – once the solution to this problem may have been to shoot the birds. Ospreys on the NSW coast north of Sydney have increased from around 10 pairs in the early 70's to about 100 now.