Vulnerable Species -

Eastern Osprey

The osprey is a diurnal fish-eating bird of prey that occasionally eats rodents, rabbits, frogs, other birds and small reptiles. It is a large raptor whose wings measure 180 cm when open. It has reversible outer toes so it can grasp prey with two toes in front and two behind. It has closeable nostrils for diving and backward facing scales on the talons that act as barbs to hold slippery fish. Some of its nests have been used for 70 years. It is found in all countries except Antarctica. Its genus is Pandion and family Pandionidae. It is classified as Vulnerable.

Osprey Nest report by Tweed Osprey Group

Click here for details of breeding events at the osprey nest 50 metres north-east of the sports field from 1996 to 2014 with irregular successful fledglings since disturbance from the Black Rocks development commenced in 2007.  This nest is the only naturally-occurring osprey nests in the Tweed Shire.

Extensive photographic evidence of model aeroplanes being regularly flown close to and crashing near the osprey nest has been evidenced and reported to Tweed Shire council.  According to Tweed Osprey Group (Fauna and Flora Assessment of Men's Shed DA 4.2.1, p.16) there has been a decline in osprey fledglings and irregular breeding since the construction of the Black Rocks sports field commenced in 2007, which is likely to be caused by human disturbance or predation by the white-bellied sea eagle.

James Warren & Associates Ecological Assessment 2011, (p.46) states: ‘The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service consider …. the direct and indirect..... disturbance from human activity to areas of any potential nest sites … a threat to the survival of the osprey.


(Above: model aeroplane near osprey nest). Why is there no government organisation with the power or the will to do something about this?


(Above: female in nest, male and female breeding, male and female in nest).


In relation to the Men's Shed being built on the Black Rocks sports field, based on existing and/or potential impacts to the life cycle of the species and the environmental significance of the naturally occurring eastern osprey nest within the Black Rocks sports field study area, the Threatened Species Conservation Society Inc believes that the eastern osprey (classified as  Vulnerable in New South Wales) should be subject to the 7-part test under the EP&A Act 1979.

According to the Tweed Osprey Group the osprey breeding season generally occurs between May to November (not July to September as stated in the GHD report for the Men's Shed development application and recommended condition of consent No. 103). The following is an extract from an email by Faye Hill, coordinator of the Tweed Osprey Group, dated 8 November 2015:-

I would just say that breeding generally occurs between May and November .... pre-breeding behaviour can start in April with the nest being refurbished, display flying and other behaviours, with egg-laying occurring around May, but some can lay later. Some pairs fledge young as early as September with others not fledging till into late November.

According to Simpson & Day Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (sixth edition page 336), the osprey breeding season can extend to include casual breeding in March, April, November and December.  Regular observations of the Black Rocks osprey nest have revealed that both birds were not seen at the nest since 24 October 2015 (the day before a council-approved model aeroplane competition was held on the Black Rocks sports field) until  two ospreys were photographed at the nest on 16 February 2016, which suggests that they are likely to be preparing for breeding.  A model aeroplane competition is scheduled again between 1-3 October 2016 at a time when fledgling ospreys are likely to leave the nest.   A dead osprey was found on the ground in close proximity to the nest on 31 October 2015, only 6 days after the last model aeroplane competition.

The following is an extract from a letter from the Tweed Osprey Group to council dated 23 September 2015  (full version here).

Ospreys however are susceptible to disturbance which can cause breeding failure.  Since the Black Rocks housing estate has been developing, breeding success has been spasmodic, and it is likely that disturbance was a factor in the years when breeding was unsuccessful.  We are very concerned that further development of the open space adjoining the nest (50m) could jeopardise breeding at this last iconic natural nesting site on the Tweed Coast.  In particular low-flying model aeroplanes or other motorised air-craft and intensive sporting or other recreational activity so close to Ospreys that have enjoyed relative isolation for so long could put successful breeding at risk.

NOTE:  Of the 13 model aeroplane field sites researched on the web, none were on sports fields.  All were on private land or fields specifically designated for the flying of model aeroplanes.

The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage has recommended that no model aeroplanes should be flown by the Pottsville Men's Shed members during osprey breeding season.  The Threatened Species Conservation Society Inc has called for a total ban of model aeroplane flying at the Black Rocks sports field site.

For more impacts on osprey see Noise , Men’s Shed and Videos.

For info on Bush Stone-Curlew go here.