A group of keen birdwatchers recently named a bird after Fran Solly. The award-winning photographer – who escorts Australian Coastal Safaris guests on photography tours – explains that the Western Osprey chick was tagged in November 2020 as part of the South Australian Government’s Osprey and White-bellied Sea-Eagle Recovery Program. The Port Lincoln Osprey team decided to name the bird Solly because of Fran’s longstanding interest in local birds.
“This was the first time in Australia we have been involved in putting a satellite tracker on an Osprey chick,” Fran says. “The data we have since collected has been astounding. We expected the bird to fly 20 to 40 kilometres after leaving its nest. It flew 400 kilometres within its first week.”
Fran has been watching birds for over 35 years and shares the many observations and interesting facts she has gained in that time with participants of any Australian Coastal Safaris photography tour she leads. She educates guests about local birds, such as the migratory Red-necked Stints, Ruddy Turnstones and others that arrive in the area in April and leave again in October, as well as the resident Eyre Peninsula birds like the Hooded Plover and many more of the 270 species recorded in the area.
Photographing the birds adds another element that Fran is passionate about. “I started keeping lists of birds I saw about 35 years ago, and the more I saw, the more I trained my eye,” she says. “Then, about 12 years ago, I began photographing birds, basically teaching myself as I went along. It’s great to be able to share my knowledge with other bird enthusiasts.”
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Fran encourages guests to become involved in bird spotting, noting their behaviours, and of course photographing the birds. “If we see a bird that is of particular interest, I report that through to the local national parks team and I encourage guests to help me with the reporting,” she says. “I talk about photographing birds, and of course I enjoy getting hands-on with guests who bring their own cameras along.”
Southern Eyre Peninsula Birdwatching
Home to 270 species of birds and 1900 native plant species, this tour across the Southern Eyre Peninsula traverses coastal dune shrublands, mallee woodlands, sandflats, saltmarsh, subcoastal and clifftops.