by David Palmer © published December 1998
Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus cristatus)
Osprey illustration © from Simpson & Day Field
Photos © courtesy of Nolene & Bob Harris.
Vigilance on the part of the 17 volunteer observers has brought a
handsome reward this year.
On Saturday the 14th of November they
met for a field trip with NSW
National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger Bob Moffat and group
leader Andy Reimanis.
Each team or individual observer submitted
their observation report sheets for compilation, and the results
have now been released.
21 Nests Observed
Over the season 21 nest sites were observed on a regular basis. Twenty
osprey pairs attempted breeding, and though two nests were destroyed
by wind or collapse of supporting branches, a record 22 young osprey
were probably fledged!Photo right: NPWS Ranger Bob Moffat, ready to return
banded chick to nest
Ospreys face many natural perils as well as perils initiated by humans,
so this is indeed a great result. One nest succeeded in spite of
sugar cane being burnt directly beneath it, and another tolerated
the interference of an observation mirror being attached, possibly
by a developer's consultant, and removed by NPWS officers.
A banding program by NPWS officers was probably instrumental in saving
the lives of two chicks which became fouled by fishing tackle brought
to the nest with their food.
The resilience of this species is truly remarkable. It is beginning
to look like their decline in this area was largely due to lack
of suitable nesting sites. What is also remarkable is the incredible
fish productivity of the Tweed River and estuary. Not only does
it support an abundance of Ospreys but equally impressive populations
of Sea Eagles, Brahminy Kites, Whistling Kites, pelicans and the
ubiquitous shags and cormorants.
Congratulations to Bob Moffat, Andy Reimanis and all the volunteers.
Fishing Tackle Peril
A banding operation for osprey nesting early this spring, might well
have been the salvation of a pair of nestlings.
In late August
the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, as part of its annual
Osprey survey, was carrying out banding of chicks in several nests
in the Wollumbin area.
In one nest they found two nearly fledged juveniles which had become
seriously fouled with fishing lines, leaders, swivels and hooks.
One chick had both wings and legs fouled by fishing line and the
other had swallowed a stainless steel hook, still attached by a
leader, to a brass swivel which was hanging out of the
corner of its mouth.
X-ray courtesy of Alstonville Veterinary Clinic.
NPWS ranger Bob Moffat, who is based at Alstonville, said that one
of the young fish hawks was freed from fishing line and immediately
tagged and returned to its nest.
The other was taken to the Alstonville
veterinary clinic where an x-ray showed a fish hook deep in its
Evan Kovac, the veterinarian, administered an emulsion which fortunately
induced the young bird to regurgitate the hook overnight.
If the hook had been caught in the chick's gut it might have required
major surgery to remove it. The second youngster was banded and
returned to the care of its anxious parents the next day.
Mr. Moffat said that as the birds had never left the nest, the line
and tackle must have been delivered to them by their parents attached
to, or even inside fish the adult birds had caught.
Appeal to Anglers
He appeals to anglers to recover all possible tackle
and waste line,
and to never use stainless steel hooks or tackle. Mild steel
tackle rust away quite quickly especially in salt water or the
acid conditions inside the gut.
Photo right: Chicks back in the nest
Over the past ten years, Mr Moffat has been instrumental in establishing
a network of artificial nesting poles for the osprey, in co-operation
with the local electricity supply company, Northpower.
In spite of such hazards as described here, the endangered ospreys
are now using approximately 90 nesting sites in New South Wales,
a great improvement on the 10 breeding pairs known in the late
National Parks & Wildlife Service Seeks Support from Fishermen
Republished from the Tweed Link, with
permission of the Tweed
This Osprey chick is lucky to be alive after having swallowed a
stainless steel fishhook. TWEED fishermen have been urged to
help protect the Tweed's ten pairs of Osprey - an endangered
species - by taking better care of their fishing tackle.
The call from National Parks and Wildlife Service officers was made
last week after they discovered two Osprey chicks entangled in
fishing line. The discovery was made during a banding operation
which involves inspection of Osprey nesting poles.
"One had a piece of fishing line coming out of its throat and this
was wrapped around another chick's neck," NPWS ranger Dwayne
Binge told the Tweed Link.
Mr Binge advised fishermen against using stainless steel hooks
as these do not break down in salt water, or in the stomach acid
of fish or birds, like ordinary hooks.
He also suggested fishermen use fishing line that breaks down in
ultraviolet light. "Ospreys are an endangered species. We have
quite a few of them in the Tweed - 10 breeding pairs - and we
need to protect them," he said.
Tweed's river management co-ordinator Jane Lofthouse last week said
discarded fishing line was a major problem for sea birds. She
encouraged fishermen to recover tackle whenever possible and
to thoughtfully dispose of fishing line.