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Byron Shire
August 18, 2022

Brunswick Heads osprey: no place like nest

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Checking out the new digs. The osprey pair gave a feather up to their man-made home. Photo David Charley.

As habitat for raptors shrinks on a daily basis, two local birds have found a nest to call home in Brunswick Heads.

A pair of Eastern Osprey has a new home thanks to some quick action by Byron Shire Council staff.

The osprey pair, who mate for life, built a nest on top of the sports fields lights (25m high) at Lofts Oval last spring.

Council’s Technical Officer, Open Space and Reserves, Andy Erskine said that osprey nests are built with sticks and they are quite heavy. ‘There was the potential for the nest to break the lights and the pole and the heat from the lights could cook the eggs,’ he said.

Eastern Osprey are large, water dependent birds of prey with a wingspan of up to 1.7m and are classified as vulnerable in NSW.

‘It’s a real treat to have these birds nest locally and because they return to the same nest every year we felt we could play a small role in the helping this pair expand their family and therefore contribute to the ongoing survival of this species,’ said Mr Erskine.

‘Because Osprey only use their nests for several months a year, we decided the best option would be to build a nest platform close to the light pole before they returned to breed and we engaged a raptor expert to work with council on developing a plan to relocate the nest,’ he said.

A local engineering firm was commissioned to build a new platform and that was attached to a 21m pole and when this was in position council’s tree contractors moved the nest.

‘They also attached deterrent devices on all the nearby lights so the osprey would have little choice but to use their new nest,’ said Mr Erskine.

‘The osprey returned recently and were spotted circling high in the sky but didn’t come near the nest and a new stick had been placed back on the light pole so we were getting very nervous.

‘Finally they discovered the new nest and have been seen sitting in it and rebuilding it in preparation to lay eggs and raise their young,’ he said.

A number of people have volunteered to be observers and report back on the activities of the osprey and council is looking forward to the happy arrival of some new feathered residents.

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  1. such great work, well done. I holiday every year in Byron Bay and love watching the Osprey in the Northfolk pines on Light House Rd.

  2. Merv Wicker and I both wrote to Byron SHire Council and NPWLS some time ago drawing their attention to the birds trying to nest on the lights. I emphasised the fact that it wasn’t good for the lights or the birds and told Council that both councils north and south managed to erect suitable platforms. Andy Erskine did respond and said they had a Mullum manufacturer who would do the work.
    Both Merv and I continue to observe and joyfully report to council as the birds are well settled. Indeed a good news story . Cheers Jenny Garrett

  3. Congratulations to the people concerned here. They identified the problem. They chose to solve it. They obtained the funding. They timed ‘the switch’ with always the best interests of the birds.
    This News story made me feel happy that we have the right people in the roles. Thank you all.
    Anna / Heather: this crew deserve to share a bottle of red before they go home on Friday…. just 1 glass.

    Mike Lilley


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