Gold Coast ‘celebrity’ Olive the osprey defies odds to take flight but refuses to leave nest





Posted

November 09, 2019 13:14:35

A young osprey on the Gold Coast — which has survived numerous flight attempts, the death of a sibling and its father’s rescue — is testament to the proverb that says “it takes a village to raise a child”.

Key points

  • The osprey breeding season is coming to a close and volunteer Rowley Goonan has done five rescues in as many weeks
  • It’s estimated there are 10 osprey breeding pairs on the Gold Coast
  • A Brahminy Kite, found trapped in a crab pot, was two hours from drowning

Olive and her sibling hatched in late July on a man-made nesting pole beside the Sundale Bridge at Southport.

The well-known nesting site overlooks the picturesque Broadwater and is passed by thousands of people every day as they drive along the busy Gold Coast Highway.

Rowley Goonan from Wildlife Bird Rescues Gold Coast said with the help of the community, Olive has defied the odds.

On October 10, Olive’s tenuous first flight was a failure and resulted in the bird being stranded for three hours on the nearby Sundale Bridge.

“Needless to say, she became an instant celebrity with the morning walkers,” the volunteer said.

“Everyone was worried, because she was letting them approach too close.”

The following morning the young osprey was found in parklands 500 metres away from the nest after another attempt at flight.

She was captured by walkers and taken to an animal hospital before being returned to the nest.

But the determined raptor didn’t stop there.

On the next flight she plunged into the Broadwater and was plucked to safety by a boatload of tourists.

They handed the bird to a passing jet-ski rider who ferried the waterlogged raptor to shore.

Equipped with a cherry picker, Mr Goonan returned the young bird to the nest.

He said it was fortunate Olive has survived.

“She’s definitely taken flight, it’s very positive.”

Olive’s male sibling has not been so lucky.

He was found dead in late August, hanging beneath the nest and tangled in fishing line.

“I ended up having to go up in a cherry picker underneath the tower and cut him down,” Mr Goonan said.

“Not a good thing for anyone to witness.”

A week earlier the breeding male osprey had to be caught so fishing line, which was tangled around its right talon, could be removed.

‘Hectic’ rescues this season

Mr Goonan said he has been involved in seven raptor rescues during the breeding season which is now coming to an end.

“The rescues have been pretty hectic this year,” he said.

“There was about three or four nests that I was monitoring, or had involvement with in either rescuing birds that were either fishing line entangled, or had come to grief as a result of coming out of the nest a little bit too early.”

Mr Goonan said he was aware of two successful breeding pairs on the Gold Coast this season, including Olive who was still yet to leave the nest.

“Olive will hang around, because she’s enjoying the free fish,” he said.

“Rest assured she’ll be given the heave-ho by the next breeding season.”

Earlier this month, he was called to rescue a Brahminy Kite which was trapped in a crab pot on a mudflat by a kayaker.

“It looks like the Brahminy Kite had come down and tried to take advantage of the bait in the crab pot, climbed in the same way a crab does and couldn’t possibly get out,” he said.

“That bird had only two hours to live before the tide returned and in inundated the pot and drowned the bird.”

Community support

The city’s raptors have been monitored more closely since the newly formed Osprey Watch Gold Coast group.

The community group’s spokeswoman, Judy Martin, said they want to raise awareness, monitor the local population and lobby on behalf of the species.

“We would be a voice to be heard in the future and not just a toothless tiger,” Ms Martin said.

“Basically just create an awareness out there that these birds are magnificent birds and they are under threat.”

Topics:

birds,

volunteers,

human-interest,

reproduction-and-contraception,

southport-4215



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