Sunday, 13 September 2009

Videos From the Buchan 'Patch'

The Rodwell Trail was full of 'bird song' at 06-30 this morning, a real treat strolling beneath a tunnel of trees. Unfortunately, it was a lot less birdy at Ferry Bridge as counts revealed only 57 Ringed Plover, 7 Dunlin, 23 Turnstone, single Little Egret and Yellow Wagtail with a continuous light passage of Hirundines (mostly Swallows) plus a few grounded Wheatear. There was interest in another directions as final preparations were being made for the Olympic Sailing Trials in Portland Harbour, starting tomorrow. The Chesil Beach car park is being utilised as an over-spill park for yacht cradles, while a few camp followers have also set up temporary residence. Some of the events take place within the confines of the harbour, while the larger craft will brave Weymouth Bay, particularly if the fresh breeze forecast comes about. Those craft taking part include Lasers, 470's, Star and 49'ers to name but a few, with one thing is for certain, it will be a spectacle not to be missed. See you down there!

And on the subject of Birding ones own Patch, which we weren't but are now, none can be more exclusive that aboard a North sea Oil Rig, some of which I'd like to share. The Talisman Energy (Canadian) owned Floating Oil Production Platform, Buchan Alpha lies some 120 miles NE of Aberdeen and has done so, with only a short exception, for 28 years. During that time there has always been a keen onboard interest in bird and other wild life. before I joined her in 1992, Peter Dale the Fire and Safety Officer made daily observations and had done so for the previous 8 years. Between us we notched up a formidable list of 173 species of which, by the time of my leaving in2007, I had recorded 169. A couple of years prior to that our Operations Coordinator, David Penney (a Parrot breeder since boyhood), also showed a very keen interest and since my departure has added a further 2 species to the list (also additions to the North Sea Bird Club List) Laughing Gull and Black Kite. Both of these were photographed and I believe have been accepted by the relevant authority.

Photography isn't something that is encouraged on an oil rig, as not being intrinsically safe and by definition a 'spark potential' could have disastrous effects with all that methane around. The use of a camera, under normal circumstances, would require the composition of a 'risk assessment', and at each use a 'work permit'. Far too much of a rigmarole when trying to capture an image of an unpredictable bird, so after discussions an inter departmental compromise was struck. To be used in agreed designated areas only Dave and I were able to compile quite an archive of visitors, both avian and other, to the rig which when posted hopefully will give readers some insight to birds outside of their normal environment. Over the next few days I will post some short video footage taken on the rig, in the main during 2005, hoping they will be of interest! Please bear in mind they were taken under some constraint so are not of Cecil B DeMille proportions.

P.S. - Yes, Nick Dempsey did strike GOLD!

Pink-footed Geese

Eurasian Wigeon