NEW RESIDENTS: An osprey pair have taken up residence in Brunswick Heads.
NEW RESIDENTS: An osprey pair have taken up residence in Brunswick Heads. David Charley

Life-long mates get new home on top of the world

A COUPLE of well-known Byron high-flyers are building a new home in Brunswick Heads and the council has bent over backwards to welcome them.

A pair of eastern osprey have started work on a new nest high atop a 21m pole thanks to some quick action by Byron Shire Council staff.

The osprey couple, which mate for life, built a nest on top of the sports field lights (25m high) at Lofts Oval last spring - a less than ideal start to raising a family.

"Osprey nests are built with sticks and they are quite heavy so there was the potential for the nest to break the lights and the pole, and the heat from the lights could cook the eggs,” the council's technical officer for open space and reserves Andy Erskine explained.

Eastern osprey are large water-dependent birds of prey with a wingspan of up to 1.7m and are classified as vulnerable in NSW.

"It's a real treat to have these birds nest locally and because they return to the same nest every year we felt we could play a small role in helping this pair expand their family and therefore contribute to the ongoing survival of this species,” MrErskine said.

"Because osprey only use their nests for several months a year, we decided the best option would be to build a nest platform close to the light pole before they returned to breed and we engaged a raptor expert to work with council on developing a plan to relocate the nest,” he said.

A local engineering firm was commissioned to build a new platform and that was attached to a 21m pole and when this was in position the council's tree contractors moved the nest.

"They also attached deterrent devices on all the nearby lights so the osprey would have little choice but to use their new nest,” Mr Erskine said.

"The osprey returned recently and were spotted circling high in the sky but didn't come near the nest and a new stick had been placed back on the light pole so we were getting very nervous.

"Finally they discovered the new nest and have been seen sitting in it and rebuilding it in preparation to lay eggs and raise their young.”