Osprey on Mooloolaba Spit

The osprey are back in their nest down on the Spit  at the mouth of the Mooloolah River, just 2.4km from Northwind Apartments. These magnificent creatures (also known as sea hawk, fish eagle or fish hawk) are large raptors reaching 60 cm in length and 180 cm wingspan. They have distinctive brown upper body parts with pale grey heads and under parts, dark eye patches and wings. This diurnal bird of prey usually nests near a body of fresh or brackish water that produces the main component of it’s diet – fish. While fish comprise up to 99% of its diet they will prey on rodents, rabbits, hares, amphibians, small reptiles and other birds. They are beautifully adapted to catching live fish with their reversible outer toes allowing them to grasp their prey with two toes in front and two toes behind. They mate for life, and while they have a life span of 7 – 10 years they have been known to live as long as 25 years. The Mooloolaba pair have just renovated their nest for the coming breeding season have just begun the five-month long partnership required to raise their young. The female lays 2 – 4 eggs, which are then incubated for about 5 weeks. The chicks fledge in 8 – 10 weeks. The breeding pair can be seen fishing around the river mouth, the marina and around the Mooloolaba Beach precinct, particularly near the rock pools.  Their distinctive voices will be heard until November. You can walk down to the end of the Spit along the beach; go via the Coastal Walkway footpath; follow the footpaths along Parkyn Parade or you can drive down and park  at the end of Parkyn Parade and follow the meandering footpath to the river mouth to catch sight of these fascinating birds.

We have been privileged to see an osprey ‘washing’ itself in the brackish shallows of the canals near the boat ramp on Parkyn Parade. The bird was standing in water up to the top of its legs and flapping its wings, ducking under the water and doing a little movement which can only be described as a ‘wiggle’ as it ensured that water was going over all parts of its body. This fascinating behaviour continued for about 10 minutes before the bird took off and flew to the mast of a yacht moored nearby.

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