Ospreys making comeback on Yorke Peninsula

News article |

Six recently-installed nesting platforms are giving endangered ospreys a fighting chance of recovery on Yorke Peninsula.

In a community-led bid to turn around a 26% decline in South Australia’s osprey population, six towers have been installed along Yorke Peninsula’s coastline since 2021.

Ospreys are a spectacular fish-eating raptor that have declined in numbers during the past 10 years due to human disturbance, predation by foxes, crows and seagulls and loss of habitat from coastal development.

Only four years ago there was just one osprey breeding pair on mainland Yorke Peninsula.

Now five out of the six towers has a resident osprey pair and during the 2023 breeding season, four young successfully fledged from the towers at Wills Creek Conservation Park (near Price), Point Davenport and Gleeson’s Landing.

Ospreys making comeback on Yorke Peninsula
An osprey pair on the Coobowie platform. Credit Natalie Olding

The tower installation at Gleeson’s Landing in 2022 ended a 12-year breeding drought in the area, with a fledgling successfully raised at the tower in both of the past two years.

The tower at Price has also experienced breeding success with an osprey pair setting up home within 5 days of the tower’s installation in 2021 and producing young every year since. The pair has settled in well, building the nest to nearly double its size.

The most recent tower installation occurred at Coobowie in July last year. This location was chosen due to its close proximity to an existing osprey nest at a telecommunications tower in Edithburgh. It proved an ideal choice, with one osprey seen on the platform’s nest within four hours of the installation. Its mate had joined it by that evening and they have not returned to the unsuitable telecommunications tower since. While the pair produced 3 eggs this breeding season, none hatched.

Ospreys making comeback on Yorke Peninsula
A helicopter lowers an artificial nesting platform into position at Coobowie in 2023. Credit NYLB
Ospreys making comeback on Yorke Peninsula
Yorketown Area School students build an osprey nest for the Coobowie platform. Credit NYLB

Three eggs also failed to hatch in 2022 at the Port Davenport Conservation Park tower, however persistence paid off with two young fledging in December last year. This is a promising sign for the Coobowie pair’s next breeding effort.

Only the osprey pair at Port Broughton is yet to start breeding, but they have been spotted refurbishing the nest in recent months, sparking hope for eggs next breeding season.

The artificial nest project is part of the Recovery and Conservation Plan for Osprey in South Australia, with funding from the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board’s (NYLB) Djulda-wawa Badja project, Southern Yorke Peninsula Landcare Group, Friends of Osprey and other private foundations and supporters.

The Southern Yorke Peninsula Landcare Group has spearheaded the project with support from NYLB, BirdLife Australia, Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary (AIBS) Partnership Group, Department for Environment and Water, Birds SA and more recently, Friends of Osprey and numerous other community organisations and volunteers.

The platforms, made of fibre reinforced polymer that are extremely strong, easy to fabricate, lightweight and cost effective, were constructed by a volunteer team at Ardrossan Community and Men’s Shed.

Find out more about the Djulda-wawa Badja project.

This story was first published by the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board on 21 May 2024.

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