Conservationists thrilled to see new eggs from endangered osprey at Port Lincoln

Birders are hopeful ospreys are taking to a series of artificial nests on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula as the laying season starts.

A nest near the Port Lincoln barge so far has three eggs in it, with both parents taking turns to care for the eggs.

It comes just months after the installation of several artificial nesting platforms designed to help the fewer than 50 breeding pairs in South Australia rebuild the population, with more platforms on the way in the next 12 months, according to Friends of Osprey secretary Fran Solly.

“We hope to put one in at Streaky Bay on an oyster lease, a couple around Coffin Bay. One at Black Springs and one in Coffin Bay. The other one initially is probably going to be Tulka, I think that area somewhere,” he said.

While the Port Lincoln barge site had been an active breeding site before the platforms were established, Friends of Osprey member Ian Falkenberg said the eggs were exciting to see.

“It’s very significant — with fewer than 50 pairs of ospreys in SA — to have a very productive pair in a place like Port Lincoln. It is so important,” he said.

Mr Falkenberg said the group thought at least another five nests had birds in them, but members did not want to get close enough to check if they were laying.

“We know when the birds are sitting low on the nests and hunkered down they’re probably on eggs or about to lay eggs,” he said.

Ms Solly said the artificial nests were crucial in protecting osprey from predators, such as foxes.

“It’s always a worry when you’re interfering with nature,” she said.

“But in this case, it’s often been man who has put them in this situation and they need a helping hand to get out of it.”

Another group, Port Lincoln Osprey, is running a 24-hour stream of the Port Lincoln barge osprey nest with citizen scientists noting the times when parents swap incubating the eggs.

Ms Solly said the platforms were crucial to the future of the ospreys.

“On the Yorke Peninsula there are now six artificial nesting platforms,” she said.

“Two years ago there was only one active nesting osprey pair on the Yorke Peninsula. This year, there are five.”