Check jet ski impact on birds call

22/05/2008 11:43:00 AM
An osprey nest at Scearcy Bay, used for the past 25 years, may have been abandoned because of recent nearby tow-in surfing activity.
Friends of Sceale Bay spokesman, Bob Minnican, said he had asked officers from Fisheries and the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) to investigate whether the nest - on top of a rock stack near a surf break and one of the most accessable osprey nest sites on the West Coast - has been abandoned.
Mr Minnican said he had also asked the officers to investigate whether an exclusion zone around the stack would be warranted should their initial investigation determine that the nest is still in use.
Osprey have just been listed as an endangered bird species because of habitat destruction and an increasing human presence in coastal areas where the birds live and breed.
The cliffs of the Eyre Peninsula's West Coast has the greatest concentration of Osprey nests in the state.
"I've been here for 26 years and that nest site has been used every year for the first 25 years," Mr Minnican said. "This (breeding) season, coinciding with in increase in tow-in surfing activity, the birds seem reluctant to go near the nest.
"I've checked with surfers and the birds have been seen sitting on the cliffs, but they will not sit on the nest," he said.
Mr Minnican said a 1200cc jet ski had been used with increasing frequency over the past 12 to 18 months to tow surfers into the wave break.
"Depending on the conditions, the jet ski might be there up to three days a week, and when its finished a run it comes in close to the base of the stack (where the nest is).
"We are not opposed to tow-in surfing, but we would like Fisheries and DEH to investigate whether it is having an impact on this particular nesting site," he said.
"We would also like Minister Gago (Environment and Conservation Minister, Gail Gago, who visited the West Coast earlier this month) to consider implementing an exclusion zone around the nest site if Fisheries and DEH believe that would be worthwhile in trying to encourage the birds to continue using the nest.
"I've watched it (jet ski) and the noise, fumes and speed would be pretty intimidating to an osprey used to looking down and seeing only the surf and occasional surfers - over the years we've educated the surfers who regularly go there and they don't go near the nest or onto the cliffs above it."
Mr Minnican said Friends of Sceale Bay had worked with the District Council of Streaky Bay some years ago to create a car park set 500 metres back with walk-in access to the beach, well away from the nest site so breeding ospreys would not be disturbed.
He said two visiting wildlife officers from Kangaroo Island had said the nest may be up to 200 years old. "It collapsed two years ago, but the birds rebuilt it."

NEST ABANDONED: A pair of endangered ospreys nesting on the rock stack at Scearcy Bay four years ago. Wildlife officers have been asked to investigate whether the nest has been abandoned because of jet ski activity near the stack.