Ervie, you melted our hearts

As a pigeon cleans the nest and a Cormorant dries itself on the perch of the Port Lincoln Osprey barge, Ervie, we are all missing you! You hatched on 16 September at 00:51. You are five months and three days and you have been away from the barge for 48 hours. Are you gone for good? We all wondered until you surprised us returning to the nest at 12:42 and you stayed until 13:30. How wonderful. When you left a couple of days ago, we all worried that we would not see you again. What a real treat, Ervie. Thank you. You are looking really well.

You did your fish calling right before you flew off. Did you see Dad? Will you return later today?

Here the pigeon is looking for scraps and the Cormorant has returned to the perch after you left.

You hatched on 16 September were 51 hours younger than Bazza, the oldest sibling in the nest. As late as 27 September, when you were 9 days old, Bazza was trying to take over dominance in the nest. Yes, he pecked at your head and tried to stand tall to intimidate you but, you never gave in, Ervie. Never.

None of us will ever be able to be precise about what it was that made your melt our hearts but, you did – in spades. Is it the cheering for the under dog? You never felt like an under dog to me, Ervie. You were spirited, you knew what you wanted. You learned early to get where Mum could see you and close to her beak in the sweet spot in order to get the fish. You were a survivor. You never cowered in submission to Bazza or Falky. OK. Maybe one or two times when you were very little, close to hatch, but by the 27th of September, you had the drive and the determination to get what you wanted.

There you are with that fish bladder. All of you were curious about it.

Look how much you have changed in just a few days. In the image above you are still sporting you soft grey down and in the one below, four days later, almost full reptilian.

Look how tiny you are in thee middle of Falky and Bazza.

Ervie, you loved your fish!

All lined up like children in a choir behaving. That was the tone of this wonderful nest at Port Lincoln. No one could believe it. The early angst was gone and each of you just lined up and ate your fish. Dad made sure there was plenty on hand even when it was storm and the winds were blowing at 37 kph. Mum made sure each was fed. You could not have chosen a better family in which to hatch than this one at this time and place.

You are 20 days old Ervie, looking and wanting that fish standing behind the others. Adorable.

You wiggle around and come to the side and you will get fed.

There you are, already sporting a big crop, up at Mum’s beak wanting more fish!

You are 34 days old in the following image. you are the one closest to Mum’s beak. Look at the beautiful juvenile feathering that each of you is getting.

It is 27 October and you are the one getting the fish bites in the image below. Look at how well you are standing. All of you are growing up.

Your eyes never move away from the fish that Mum is feeding. There you are n the back ready to grab a bite!

There you are with your sat-pak, Ervie. You were all banded and given official names. They even put some nice fish on the nest so all of you could eat. There was enough for Mum and Dad, too.

  • Big Bob, first hatch, has a red band, weighed the least at 1280 grams and is named Bazza. The name celebrates Take 2 Photography’s husband, Barry Hockaday, who did so much to bring the Osprey Barge to a reality.
  • Middle Bob, second hatch, has a yellow band, weighed 1330 grams and is named Falky after Ian Falkenberg, the bander.
  • Little Bob, third hatch, has a dark green almost black band, weighed 1380 grams and is named Ervie. It is the name of the Scottish town where Australia’s current Minister of the Environment grew up. This choice focused on the fact that the growth in the Eastern Osprey population and this project would not be possible without the Minister’s support.

And that is how ‘never miss a meal Little Bob’ became the biggest Bob! And got the sat-pak! Well done, Ervie.

Your bling is beautiful and we hope that sat-pak does work for 7 or more years so we know how you are doing.

It seemed that all of you grew up after you were banded. You were feeding yourselves and hovering and then fledging. Once everyone got their bling it was so much easier to identify who was right up at Mum’s beak – as she often chose to feed her boys even though they could easily feed themselves. That is you, Ervie, getting fed with your beak almost touching Mum’s head!

When Mum was not there and Dad delivered a fish, Ervie, you were often the one to get that fish first and mantle it.

On 14 November, you fledged, Ervie.

First to get the fish again.

Falky really wanted the fish Ervie had. Ervie, you were fast as lightning to get those fish deliveries – not always, but often and normally the first one of the day.

As all of you got older and more independent, the dust ups began. There was never any love lost between you and Bazza.

No one will ever forget the dog fight that you had with Falky!

Or your first puffer catch. Did you actually develop a taste for the Puffer, Ervie? You would bring in another one to the nest a few days before you departed.

You are four months old on 16 January and what a handsome fellow you are. You are now the king of the nest.

Super handsome Ervie.

You could hear your loud cry for fish across the cove. We will all miss it. Wonder if anyone tried to make a ring tone for their phone?

Oh, Ervie. You brought such joy to our lives. Every day we waited to see what you would be up to from the moment that you hatched. Thank you for staying with us for five months and for returning today to the barge. We never know when you fly off if you will return.

This is your latest tracking. Port Lincoln confirms that you are enjoying the Boston Bay area and the fishing is good by the National Park. We will look forward to more adventures.

If you do not return, Ervie, each of us wishes you the best life. Fly high. Live well and safe. Never be hungry. Come back to see us! And if for some reason you decide to use the barge as ‘home base’, I am sure no one will mind! At least not until Mum and Dad decide to take over the nest in the late summer.

Thank you to Port Lincoln Osprey Project for their streaming cam and FB pages where I took these screen captures and video clips. Thank you for letting us share in the lives of this beautiful Osprey family.


  1. Beverly Penney says:

    Oh Mary, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the beautiful biography on Ervie. I savoured every word and couldn’t stop reading. He is a very special Osprey and more ppl should emulate his accomplishments. Again, thank you. And I love the updates from your ‘snow garden’. I’m an expat American from Illinois and now living in Tasmania and I really, really miss the snow so I stare at your garden until the snow melts. Please keep writing these beautiful blogs about our cherished birds. And squirrels! Warm regards,

    Beverly 🧓🐕🐾✝️🌈 🌹If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, run down there and light the bloody thing yourself!

    1. Akane says:

      Thank you, Mary Ann, for your newsletter. I have read it over and over again. I can remember everything. I am happy that Ervie is leaving the nest, but I miss him. It brings tears to my eyes. It was a blessing to have shared in the beginning of Ervie’s wonderful life.

      1. You are so very welcome, Akane. Ervie was such a special little one. I am so glad you enjoyed the blog but most of all, I know how much you loved him. I hope that he drops by the barge so we can see him but my real wish is that when Dad and Mum move on maybe Ervie will take over the barge! or PLO will have to make him a human made platform. Wouldn’t that be grand?! Take care. So lovely to hear from you.

    2. Dear Beverly, Thank you so much for your beautiful note. I am so happy that you enjoyed that tribute to Ervie. I am so hoping that he drops by the barge once in awhile but with the tracker we will at least know where he is! Oh, I wish I could send you a container of our snow. You are right – it is becoming a snow garden! The wind has blown and this morning all of the mounds are peaks like little mountains. I will try and get a decent image today or tomorrow and post it for you! All the very best – love your saying at the end.

  2. Akane says:

    I’m sorry, I made a mistake and commented on someone else’s reply. I apologize for that.

  3. Linda Kontol says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for such a wonderful tribute for our beloved Ervie! You gave us photos and memorabilia to keep and cherish about Ervie and his family forever. I hope he’s not gone for good as we will miss him so much. I’m already missing him now. But if he is gone I’m so thankful he has his tracker and we will know where he is as long as the tracker is working.
    We wish him the BEST of life and hope he finds a lot of fish ! Come visit Ervie! Your always welcome❤️🙏
    Thanks again Mary Ann for such a wonderful newsletter for Ervie
    Have a great day and we look forward to hearing again soon!

    1. You are so very, very welcome, Linda. I remember at the beginning when we were so frightened for tiny little Ervie from last year but my goodness he is so brave. He just stood right up to Bazza. And then Falky. I loved the dust ups once I knew they were all OK!!!!!!!! Hopefully he will return to the nest now and again to say hi. Fingers crossed – and ever so grateful for that tracker. Thank you for your note. He was such a very special osprey, Linda.

  4. Ann-Marie says:

    Beautiful written on our boy Ervie. He has been a delight to watch from day one.
    I honestly think he did drop by to tell parents he was ok. Also to tell Dad “ I found a place, it’s cool. I need help moving sticks and nest stuff. Come visit and bring fish!”
    Will be wonderful to follow his tracks to see how he fares in the future.
    Thank you for all your wonderful updates.

    1. Thank you so much. It was my pleasure. I know you were one of Ervie’s greatest fans. I love what you wrote about what he might have said to Dad. They sure became good buddies and that was beautiful. I hope from the tracking that Ervie stops by often. Take care.

    2. Would it be alright if I quoted you saying ‘AM’ said that Ervie might have told dad…..It is beautiful and I would like to use it in my next newsletter if it is OK. Thank you for considering this.

      1. Oh, thank you. Very kind. The next time I write about Ervie. It was wonderful to see him again at the barge. Let’s hope it is a regular occurrence.

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