Ospreys in South Australia

Friends of Osprey work on GPS tracking and banding Ospreys as well as live streaming wild Ospreys in South Australia

GPS tracking and banding

Some of our passionate volunteers have the skills, experience and necessary government approvals to GPS track and band young Osprey which helps us to learn far more about these birds.

GPS tracking has been used overseas for many years, but is a relatively new approach in South Australia and is delivering us some incredible information, helping us build up a greater scientific understanding of the species in South Australia. 

Tracking Ospreys in South Australia

Until recently very little was known about what happened to Ospreys after they fledged and left their nesting sites. However, through the use of GPS tracking we are building up a much more thorough understanding of the birds’ movements and what they do in the weeks and months after fledging the nest.

GPS tracking involves attaching a very lightweight satellite tracker to an Osprey (usually before it has fledged, while still in the nest) which can last several years before failure. We aim to GPS track several birds each year depending on our resources.

We also band some of our Osprey chicks with unique identifying leg bands. Again this helps us track their movements and is more cost effective than GPS tracking.

Ospreys in South Australia livestream

All around the world live webcams are inspiring people to learn more about Ospreys and join in efforts to advance their conservation. In South Australia a live webcam beams the story of a pair of Ospreys and their young right around the world. 

The webcam is located on a barge in Port Lincoln marina, one of the regional waterways in Australia. From their home on the floating barge the Ospreys have felt safe enough to nest and rear young since 2015. The nest was particularly successful in the 2021 breeding season when three male chicks successfully fledged. 

These Ospreys are easily accessed and formed the beginning of the work of Friends of Osprey prior to the formalisation of the group. Each year the young Ospreys are banded and at least one is GPS tracked to follow its journey. 

The Ospreys of South Australia

Friends of Osprey operated informally before our official constitution in March 2022. During that time we began following a number of birds, some of which were banded or GPS tracked, or both.

The GPS tracking has been a game changer for developing our understanding of Osprey in South Australia and while the story hasn’t always had a happy ending, our knowledge of what’s happening with Ospreys and where they go when they fledge has been dramatically improved. This enhanced understanding will help us make decisions which should ensure the improved conservation of the species. Meet some of our iconic birds below:  

Solly, 2020 – 2021

Probably our most iconic bird to date, Solly was reared on the famous Port Lincoln barge nest, fledging in early 2021. When she left the nest, she flew north to Eba Anchorage near Streaky Bay on the west coast of the Eyre Peninula. The tracker provided a surprising insight into the path she took, heading through the centre of the peninsula, passing through protected areas of native vegetation on her journey.

For nine months she foraged around Eba Anchorage and was maturing into a beautiful bird with a significant local following. Sadly, in a stroke of great misfortune, she was electrocuted on a faulty electrical pole in late 2021. While this was a sad outcome, Solly helped to significantly raised awareness of Osprey on the Eyre Peninsula and again without the tracking device so much would not have been learnt, nor would her body been recovered or her cause of death known.

Calypso, 2019 – present day

Calypso has not gone too far from home, spending time around Port Lincoln and appears to now have paired up with another bird at Tulka near Lincoln National Park. We are investigating the possibility of installing an elevated nesting platform to aid the success of Calypso and her mate.

Calypso is not satellite tracked, but is banded, enabling birders with high quality binoculars or photography equipment to identify her.

Ervie, 2021 – present day

Named by Chair of Friends of Osprey, David Speirs, after his childhood home parish in Scotland, Ervie was one of three brothers to fledge from the Port Lincoln barge nest in early 2022. Interestingly, he has stayed much closer to home than any of the nest’s previous fledglings, remaining in and around the nest many months after his brothers had left the area (they are not tracked, but have not been seen since shortly after fledging).

While Ervie is satellite tracked, his journeys are short and not particularly adventurous. It will be interesting to see if he is pushed further away from Port Lincoln.

Meg, 2021 – 2022

Fledgling from a historically successful nest on Thistle Island, a small island off the east coast of the Eyre Peninsula, Meg was fitted with a satellite tracking device on 8 November 2021, becoming independent from her parents on 18 February 2022 and heading off on a huge flight over 19 days. This flight took her east to the Yorke Peninsula, before making a flight of several hundred kilometres north to Wirrabara in the Southern Flinders Ranges, a significant distance inland from the coastal areas we so frequently associate with Osprey. She flew around the regional town of Crystal Brook, before making her way back to the coast at Port Broughton and Wallaroo, then arriving at Dhilba-Guuranda Innes National Park on the foot of the Yorke Peninsula. At this point she ceased moving and was subsequently found dead. A post mortem undertaken by the University of Adelaide’s Veterinary Facility showed that she had died of starvation, perhaps having never managed to successfully hunt from the point she left her parents and went on her huge flight. While this was a sad ending for Meg’s short life, the extent of her journey and the discovery of her body would never have been possible without the use of the tracker.


Desy became the first adult Osprey to be fitted with a tracker in South Australia when he became entangled in a telecommunications tower at Louth Bay near Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula. Unfortunately there have been no transmissions of his location since ten days after his release and there are grave concerns for his wellbeing. Unfortunately rescued birds are very good at hiding trauma as a defence against predators, this means they may look healthy when they are initially released back into the wild but their health can deteriorate quickly thereafter. We still have our fingers crossed for this magnificent bird, but hope is fading that he will be seen again.

Phantom, 2021 – present day

Phantom fledged from the elevated nesting platform installed by Friends of Osprey at Price on the upper Yorke Peninsula in early 2022. The Price platform was the first to see young fledge and it has been good to see Phantom travel from the nesting site, south to Kangaroo Island, a stronghold for Ospreys in South Australia. Phantom appears to have settled into foraging in the shallow and abundant waters around American River, ideal territory for Ospreys.