Ospreys in Moreton Bay - where to find them

Published 3:00pm 4 September 2023

Ospreys in Moreton Bay - where to find them
Words by Kylie Knight
Photo: By Pip Grant-Taylor

Pip Grant-Taylor has been watching ospreys in the Moreton Bay region for more than a decade, captivated by their beauty, behaviour and resilience.

They love the fishing here and the climate gives their young a strong chance of survival.

By her count, there are about 19 active nests across the region in the coastal band from Bribie Island to Griffin.

Pip moved to the region in 2009 and started watching local ospreys a year later when she began volunteering at Osprey House, Griffin.

She was hooked, bought herself a decent camera and soon started taking photos of the birds at every opportunity.

“Once I got that camera, I was away because I’d always photographed birds. My first photograph of a bird would have been with a box brownie when I was around eight or nine years old,” Pip recalls.

“Birds have always been a thing. As a family, we used to band birds for scientific studies in New Zealand. That set me up with a really amazing love and appreciation of how special birds are.”

She had seen ospreys a couple of times while living elsewhere but when she arrived at Osprey House, she fell in love with them.

“First off, I suppose it was the size. The sea eagles are big but they’re a bit scary. The ospreys are just downright gorgeous. They are actually named around the world as one of the most charismatic birds. I think it’s just because of the markings.

“The crown jewels of ospreys is their ‘necklace’, not their head markings.

“It was also learning the intricacies of how to identify them and that became a really obsessive thing. I had to do a lot of research and the more research I did, the better my appreciation and love of them became.

|“There are some things that ‘call’ you and the ospreys still ‘call’ me. If I go somewhere, I always check to see if there are ospreys around and see if I can find nests.”|

Pip has carefully documented her sightings of nests and ospreys and has a massive catalogue of photos.

She ‘knows’ the pair, called Sonny and Cher, at the UniSC Moreton Bay campus well having observed them since they were young birds.

Pip believes Sonny hatched from a nest on a pylon at Lake Kurwongbah, Dayboro Rd, in 2016.

She first saw Cher at Osprey House in 2013 and also recalls observing her at Dayboro Rd. The pair has been at the university site since 2021 and successfully produced a chick last season.

“I’ve spent hours looking at pictures … to match up the markings,” Pip says.

“I can look at an osprey in the sky and say, ‘I know you’, because those patterns stick in my head.”

Ospreys in Moreton Bay - where to find them

Osprey facts

  • Eastern Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus cristatus) are a native raptor with a body length of 56-65cm and a wingspan of 1.5-1.8m
  • They weigh 1.2-2.1kg and their beaks are 24.5-35.5mm long
  • The sexes are similar in appearance, but females are usually larger than males
  • Breeding ospreys are known to travel as far as 14km from their nests to hunt
  • Non-breeding birds are known to travel as far as 10km between daytime feeding grounds and roosts
  • Ospreys are unusual among raptors because they are solely fish eaters
  • Ospreys breed from March/April to September in Australia, typically in monogamous pairs
  • They start breeding about four or five years of age
  • When nesting, the male does the hunting but both birds incubate the eggs, turning them regularly
  • Eggs hatch about 35-40 days after laying and the young fledge about seven to 11 weeks after hatching. They return to the nest for a month or two to be fed. Both parents gather and supply food
  • Ospreys live for about 25 years

Where they are

  • Beachmere Rd (communication tower)
  • Beachmere Sports Ground (platform)
  • Bribie Island Rd (communication tower)
  • Armitage Rd, Bribie Island (communication tower)
  • Banksia Beach Bowls, Bribie Island (communication tower)
  • Ningi, Bribie Island (communication tower)
  • Sunderland Rd, Bribie Island (communication tower)
  • Bribie Island Rd (communication tower)
  • Silcock Rd, Clontarf (natural)
  • Donnybrook (communication tower)
  • Osprey House, Griffin (platform)
  • Near Pumicestone Rd, Meldale (communication tower)
  • UniSC Moreton Bay, Petrie (light fixture)
  • UniSC Moreton Bay, Petrie (platform)
  • Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe (light fixture)
  • Deception Bay Rd, Rothwell (communication tower)
  • Sandstone Point IGA, (communication tower)
  • Strathpine (electricity pylon)
  • Toorbul (communication tower)

To find out more, visit the Facebook page

See more osprey photos (click through)

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