Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Eastern Osprey

The Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristatus) is widespread and common around much of the northern Australian coast. They are usually solitary and can be found along the coast and on inshore lakes and estuaries and occasionally on inland rivers and lakes.

Screen shot from Birdata showing distribution of the Eastern Osprey in Australia.

On a recent birding outing to Toorloo Arm on Lake Tyers with BirdLife East Gippsland, an Eastern Osprey was sighted by one of our members as it emerged from the water with a good sized Poddy Mullet. The bird flew with its catch to a dead tree above the water where it presented members with great photo opportunities.

While Ospreys are very common and abundant in more northern latitudes, here in Victoria they are only occasional visitors, and are often juveniles. So when they are found in Victoria it is usually cause for some excitement. The report of this bird on 16/4/18 to “Eremaea Birdline’s Interesting and unusual bird observations” gained a blue star highlight.  

Here is a selection of photos of the Toorloo Arm bird.

Click on photos to enlarge.

The Poddy Mullet is a good-sized meal.

Forward facing eyes, huge talons and pursuit of fish by plunging into the water make the Osprey a formidable specialist fish raptor.

The bird moved about with its catch on the dead limb. No doubt the presence of observers and photographers on the opposite side of the narrow arm made it hard for the bird to settle down to a meal.

The bird is a juvenile – note in this and other photos the heavy rusty breast band which extends up the side of its neck and around the nape.

The bird’s wings were often outstretched for balance as it moved about with the fish clenched tightly in its left foot.

The open wings viewed from below show the underwing feather pattern clearly.
This back view shows the upper wing feather colours. 

The solid legs and feet plus the long talons are obvious in this photo.

The attention this celebrity bird was drawing from the BirdLife group was wearing thin and here the bird is about to depart for a quieter location to enjoy its fish.

You might like to see an earlier Osprey post here:

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