Save Our Sea Hawks: An SOS for Ospreys

One of the Ospreys. Photos: Andrew Ritchie
One of the Ospreys. Photos: Andrew Ritchie

THE nesting place of a beloved pair of ospreys faces the threat of being cut down – and the Town of Cottesloe says it can do nothing to stop it.

The 30m-high Norfolk pine is within a block of beachside units south of the town’s groyne.

An agenda item for the August 23 bi-annual general meeting of owners at the units at the Deane Street-Marine Parade intersection is the potential removal of the pines at the beachfront side of the common property.

The Western Suburbs Weekly is getting behind the love birds.

A levy will be also discussed to fund the removal and repair an adjacent boundary wall.

“We have no authority, we have nothing we could do, other than what we could do is call the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions to see if they have any jurisdiction,” Cottesloe Mayor Phil Angers said.

The State-protected fish-hunting ospreys, with wingspans up to 1.8m, have a nest of twigs and seaweed on top of one of the pines.

The threat to the tree and nest is more concerning because observers believe the pair of osprey – also known as sea hawks – could be ready to breed this spring.

BirdLife WA osprey observer Marcus Singor said the nest now appeared large enough to raise chicks.

“If the pines are brought down the birds will have to move somewhere and at the moment it’s the exact time they are starting to breed,” Mr Singor said.

Cottesloe’s pair of loved-up, fish-eating ospreys are attracting Perth bird watchers as they continue to build up their nest, unconcerned by the threat to chop down their home.

“They appear to have been mating and when the male came on to the nest you could hear noises, then he flew off,” amateur bird watcher Joey Jackson said.

Mr Jackson (72) and his wife Christine (69) drove from Joondalup to see the nesting birds of prey, whose spectacular roost more than 30m above the ground has become well known among Perth’s bird watching community.

“We bump into that many people on the bird watching websites and then see them down here,” Mr Jackson said.

Cottesloe’s pair of osprey was first recorded building a new nest three years ago.

Mr Singor said eggs could be laid next month or in October before hatching about November.

“Once the chicks are in full plumage you will hear a lot of noise from them,” Mr Singor said.

The adults hunt fish throughout the day along nearby beach reefs, or about 2km east on the Swan River. There are other breeding pairs at the Old Swan Brewery, Mt Pleasant, Alfred Cove and Salter Point.

Apart from landowners, other threats to the nest include attacking ravens, drones disturbing the parents, and storms which, despite the large birds’ abilities to lie flat in the nest, could still blow it out of the tree.

“The best place to see the nest is over at the nearby golf course, up high, and look down into it,” Mr Singor said.

Arborist reports since 2010 for the strata where the tree is situated say the pines are not unhealthy or dangerous.

Strata manager Simon Martin said the owners were free to discuss the pines, but no decision had been made and owners would “never do anything to disturb the birds”.

“One owner is saying a pine is causing damage to the property and we can discuss these things,” he said.