Chain of Bays Chain of Bays
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Print article Mar 13 2010 Osprey
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The Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, is a large raptor which feeds almost exclusively on fish, which it catches by diving. The species is global in its distribution, but there are four recognised subspecies. The Australian subspecies, Pandion haliaetus subsp. cristatus, is non-migratory, and is listed (incorrectly) under the Commonwealth EPBC Act as a Migratory Species. In Australia, the Osprey is confined to the coastline, estuaries and rivers near the coast. In South Australia, the Osprey is listed as Endangered, and it is believed that there may be approximately 45 breeding pairs. It is possible that the South Australian population is genetically distinct. The bird is recognisable by its flight, which is marked by long wings with a pronounced kink, and by colouration, which is white under the wing and on the head, with barred flight feathers, dark brown back and tail, and a black band extending from the eye to shoulder. Juveniles have white ends to the feathers on the back and under the wings, and a darker band from the eye to the shoulder.

The Chain of Bays coastline is one of the few remaining areas in South Australia, along with Kangaroo Island, where the Osprey is breeding successfully. Due to the lack of tall trees, nesting sites in South Australia are confined to remote cliffs and coastal island stacks, where the birds construct large mounds of sticks, which are decorated with seaweed, kelp and marine debris during the breeding season, which occurs in Spring, between September and October. The nest selection period prior to breeding, from July to September, is also critical to the breeding success. A number of potential nests exist within a breeding territory, and a breeding pair will select one of these in each season. Ospreys have also been known to establish nests atop power-poles and even the masts of boats, where these features are left undisturbed. Eggs are hatched after five weeks, and fledging occurs after two months in the nest, in December or January. Birds may live for 20-25 years.

Raptor expert Terry Dennis has surveyed the Chain of Bays coastline and he has determined that up to eight active breeding territories exist in the region, making it critical for the survival of this species in South Australia. The geographically varied coastline of the Chain of Bays provides ideal feeding habitat in a range of wind conditions, and the isolated cliffs provide suitable nesting sites. Terry Dennis has recommended a number of management strategies for the protection of this species, including reduced disturbance pressures, especially from above the nest sites, and significant development buffers, in the order of 1000 meters, from nesting territories. Terry Dennis is currently monitoring Osprey and White-Bellied Sea Eagle activity in the region, and he would like to know of any observations of these birds in the area (08 85 527659) Click here for the Department of Environment Osprey Factsheet

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