Progress report on Bay of Shoals osprey nest pole

NEST RELOCATED: The Bay of Shoals osprey nest was relocated from the quarry to a new pole platform, which sits about 5m above the water. Photo supplied

NEST RELOCATED: The Bay of Shoals osprey nest was relocated from the quarry to a new pole platform, which sits about 5m above the water. Photo supplied

The state government says osprey chicks could soon be visible near Bay of Shoals, on Kangaroo Island, with an osprey spotted feeding chicks in a nest which was relocated earlier this year.

National Parks staff on October 15 detected a change in behaviour of the parent birds from incubating to apparent feeding.

Now located on top of a pole, which sits 7.5 metres above the seabed, and about 5m above the water, the nest was repositioned from an old power pole in a parcel of land near an old quarry.

The nest move meanwhile was able to be undertaken, thanks to advice from coastal raptor experts and a collaborative effort from the Department for Environment and Water's National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Coast and Marine Branch, and SA Power Networks.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said while no chicks had hatched yet, NPWS staff were confident that they may soon appear.

"It's a hugely positive sign for this endangered species, and a validation that all of the careful and hard work undertaken earlier this year to relocate the nest was worthwhile," Minister Speirs said.

"Osprey nests have been successfully relocated previously in other areas across Australia, so we're hopeful we will have the same, successful outcome here with this nest in Bay of Shoals."

A statewide census is currently underway to count osprey numbers and assess any population trends, and raptor conservation and recovery work around South Australia.

"The survey is the first time in South Australia that a complete census of both osprey and white-bellied sea eagles in a single season has been attempted and it will cover a significant proportion of the state's coastline, via land and sea, giving ecologists a much more accurate picture of their numbers and help ensure better management of these beautiful birds," Mr Speirs said.

"As part of the census, two surveys will also be undertaken on Kangaroo Island, on the north and south coast in October to November.

"Osprey are endangered in South Australia, with only eight active breeding pairs recorded on the island in the most recent surveys conducted in 2015-17."

During the careful operation to relocate the nest, it was removed from the power pole and placed onto a square platform where it was bolted and wired on, before being hoisted up and hitched into position on top of the pole.

A perch above the nest is faced in an easterly direction, to counter for winds blowing in from the west.

The location was chosen to ensure the ospreys would remain undisturbed by people walking or driving near, or underneath the nest.

The new location will still allow the opportunity for members of the public to monitor activities at the nest throughout the year without disturbing the birds.

Kangaroo Island National Parks and Wildlife Service manager Mike Greig said NPWS staff had been monitoring the nest and based on bird behaviour it's likely that egg-laying began in mid-August.

"The incubation time was expected to last 35-43 days. The most recent observation indicates the eggs have now hatched and well will continue to monitor the nest closely," Mr Greig said.

"We'd just like to remind visitors to the area, in particular boaters, to please not approach the nest, and to only observe the birds from the shore.

"It's important that we give them lots of space, so that they can observe normal behaviour and so rearing is a success."

The dead bird found on the beach at Bay of Shoals turned out to be a barn owl according to the SA Museum.

The dead bird found on the beach at Bay of Shoals turned out to be a barn owl according to the SA Museum.

In a side story, a local waking on the Bay of Shoals beach near the new osprey nesting pole on Saturday, October 3 found a dead raptor embedded in the sand.

The remains were handed into National Parks, which sent to the remains to the SA Museum that conducting a forensic analysis to determined the species, as well as its potential origins and age.

The Islander was notified on October 15 that the SA Museum had identified the remains as being a barn owl, but how it came to be on the beach remains a mystery.

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