Birds moved from Wallcliffe House in delicate relocation project

The property, originally built by Alfred Bussell between 1855 and 1865, was gutted in the fires which devastated the Margaret River region ten years ago. Photos: Supplied
The property, originally built by Alfred Bussell between 1855 and 1865, was gutted in the fires which devastated the Margaret River region ten years ago. Photos: Supplied

Since the buildings at Wallcliffe House were destroyed by fire in 2011 there have been no permanent residents on site, except that is, for a pair of osprey who made their nest in the ruins of the chimney in the Winter of 2018.

The property, originally built by Alfred Bussell between 1855 and 1865, was gutted in the fires which devastated the region ten years ago.

To see the pair return to the nest in its new location and settle comfortably into the environment was celebrated by all of us at the end of a long and very rewarding day.

Chris Furtado, The Landsmith Collection

It was sold to Voyager Estate owners Alexandra and Julian Burt in 2018, and later that year plans were revealed for a boutique hotel on the site.

Last month the WA State government approved the planning scheme amendment and with work commencing on the development application, focus turned to the deconstruction and salvage of materials from the ruins.

Two osprey that have been living in the burnt out remains of a Wallcliffe House chimney have been relocated to a brand new nest platform. Photos: Supplied.

Two osprey that have been living in the burnt out remains of a Wallcliffe House chimney have been relocated to a brand new nest platform. Photos: Supplied.

Central to that stage of the development was the birds, which were living comfortably in the burnt out building.

The Landsmith Collection team - led by co-founder Alexandra Burt, began a consultation process with wildlife and bird experts to devise a solution that would deliver the best outcome for the pair.

'Operation Osprey' was commenced, to relocate the nest to a new site within the property.

A new location and design for the nest platform were determined, along with a plan for the relocation and careful handling of the nest.

The Landsmith Collection CEO Chris Furtado said a development application and building permit were required to construct the new nest platform.

"Both were considered a "first" by the Shire's planning team and ours," he said.

The new location is near the original nest site and is clear of any other tree line to prevent feral animals from attacking the nest during breeding season and to ensure that the birds are not disrupted from their day-to-day habits of fishing, eating, sleeping, and raising their young.

"It was an incredible experience, I have to say," Mr Furtado said.

"To see the pair return to the nest in its new location and settle comfortably into the environment was celebrated by all of us at the end of a long and very rewarding day."

The Landsmith Collection consulted with representatives of the Undalup Association on design, location and timing, and supervised the minor excavation works required to install the pole for the new platform.

Consultation on methodology, design and location was also sought from Senior Environmental Consultant Kirsten Knox of Emerge Associates, Phil Pain from the Eagles Heritage Raptor Wildlife Centre, the Cape to Cape Bird Group's Christine Wilder, retired Bird Enthusiast and Wildlife expert Marcus Singor, and Anthropologist Brad Goode.

The Landsmith Collection extended thanks to the consultation group for their expertise and assistance in managing the operation.

The new location is near the original nest site and is clear of any other tree line to prevent feral animals from attacking the nest during breeding season. Photos: Supplied

The new location is near the original nest site and is clear of any other tree line to prevent feral animals from attacking the nest during breeding season. Photos: Supplied

This story Operation Osprey: Birds relocated from Wallcliffe House first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.