The ospreys at Hervey Bay

posted in: Life and things, Photography | 2
Dawn at low tide

Much as I like going overseas I’m fortunate to live in a very special part of the world. It’s big enough to have a couple of hospitals and small enough not to have massive traffic jams. The weather’s usually mild and we’re only three kilometres from a lovely beach.

I usually take my camera with me when we go walking on the beach and I thought I’d share the experience with you. The beach is never boring. Let me paint you a picture, with reference to the photos above and below. It’s a wide, curving shoreline with a gently sloping beach. There are several jetties for people wanting to fish. At low tide the beach is extra wide and there are exposed sand bars and some rocks; at high tide the beach is very narrow and we don’t walk then because the sand is too soft to be comfortable. Beyond the beach is a steep slope caused by wave erosion and above that is a nature strip of casuarinas, gums, fir trees and tough native scrub.

The beach at low tide. Note the thick layer of trees mid right. You’ll see it in the high tide photo below
The beach at high tide. There’s virtually no beach.

Because of the nature strip separating the beach from the road, there are lots of birds around. A pair of ospreys have a large nest near the road on the edge of the nature strip. A pair of Brahmani kites have a nest in thick firs, so thick I’ve never seen it though I know it’s there. Butcher birds, miner birds, magpies, magpie larks, pink and grey galahs, Australian wood ducks (which nest in hollows in trees), lorikeets, and other species all live in the beachside scrub.

The osprey nest, used by generations of birds

Sulphur crested cockatoos are frequent visitors to the trees along the shore, as are corellas. They congregate in noisy flocks and have some fun chasing a patrolling osprey or kite. In fact most of the smaller birds will let the raptors know they’re not wanted, but they won’t chase them over the ocean.

A tree top full of corellas

Along the shoreline you’ll see ibis, heron, egrets, sea gulls, pelicans, oyster catchers, cormorants, terns etc.

But my favourites are the raptors The other day we saw three ospreys, each in its own casuarina overlooking the beach. Quite often they just sit in the tree, maybe preening or looking out to sea. But this day two of them went hunting, one in one direction the other the opposite way.

They look after those feathers very carefully
On a casuarina overlooking the beach. He regally ignores our presence

I think the two above are the adults. The following day I noticed an osprey sitting on one of the jetties near where we parked the car but he flew away when a person approached. He landed on a pylon and was immediately harrassed by small birds. I think this is junior – last year’s brood from those two adults.

He LOOKS young, doesn’t he? He’s flapping his wings to shoo off the other birds.

There are several pairs of osprey along the coastline, but these are the ones I know best. On one very special morning I was privileged to watch one bathe, just like a great big duck.

Washing his wings
Getting dry
And he’s off

And another time I watched one hunting – too far away for a great picture, but I did my best. I took a series of shots and stitched them together in Photoshop. Ospreys go in feet first well over their heads in the water, then fight their way out.

Here’s an up close and personal view. They are amazing.

Dinner on the rocks
Or dinner with a view

Next time I’ll tell you a bit about Brahmani kites.

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