Osprey tracked after leaving Port Lincoln nest

An eastern osprey fitted with a solar powered tracker has provided researchers with an interesting flight path since leaving the nest in Port Lincoln.

A pair of endangered eastern ospreys have been nesting on a barge at the entrance to the Port Lincoln Marina for more than seven years, and cameras installed have provided people with an insight to life in the nest, including nesting, mating and chick raring activity.

Citizen scientist and local photographer Fran Solly has been involved with the Port Lincoln Osprey project and said while the cameras, which provide a live feed to the Port Lincoln Ospreys YouTube channel, provided amazing insight, there was little known about the birds once they left the nest, as in where they went and what they did.

She said this would lead to researcher Ian Falkenberg banding the birds and in the last season attaching the first ever satellite tracker to an eastern osprey in Australia.

"The small solar powered tracker was fitted using a method successfully employed in the United Kingdom," she said.

"The tracker is designed to provide data several times a day on the birds location and to fall off cleanly at about four years when the bird is ready to find a nest and a mate."

The eldest and strongest chick named 'Solly' was fitted with the tracker and after some exploratory flights around Proper Bay she took a route that was unexpected.

Solly flew down Proper Bay to Sleaford Bay, but then went inland via Lock and spent a night at Mount Wedge before moving on to Mount Cooper and then Port Kenny.

She would eventually head north to Streaky Bay and has been seen from her tracker movements and from reports by locals at Eba Anchorage as she forages between Perlubie and Streaky Bay.

Mr Falkenberg said Solly had so far travelled about 520km from Port Lincoln.

"We didn't expect her to travel that distance because ospreys in Australia are non-migratory," he said.

"The second thing that surprised us was the distance flown inland.

"They live predominantly on fish so why she would spend time out there in those areas we're not sure, other than taking exploratory trips."

The osprey has preferred to spend time around townships along the West Coast, Mr Falkenberg said this was most likely due to the bird being bred close to the Port Lincoln township where it has become habituated to human activity, surrounded by people, boat traffic and jetty lights.

He said this habituated behavior meant the osprey would be much more tolerant of people and probably more successful over the longer term.

"When the young become independent from the parents, behaviors learned or instinctive are vitally important for their survival and they spend much time honing and perfecting those skills and behaviors particularly hunting and foraging skills," he said.

Mr Falkenberg said ospreys were endangered in South Australia with populations having declined by up to 26 per cent over the last ten years.

A newly established White-bellied Sea-eagle and Osprey Recovery Team has been established to monitor the breeding activity of both species of raptors.

The satellite tracker is providing important information on how the osprey is using coastal habitats and any sightings across Eyre Peninsula are welcomed.

The community is also providing artificial nesting platforms for ospreys to help their recovery on Yorke Peninsula where numbers have been in severe decline in recent years due loss of habitat and increasing human disturbance.

Meanwhile people can continue to be updated on activities of the ospreys in Port Lincoln by visiting the Port Lincoln Osprey Facebook page or by watching the live feed on YouTube.

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