Monday, 5 October 2009

After an excellent spell of 'dry weather' the rain had to come sometime and confine me to home. Not a bad idea though as there are a thousand things I need to catch up with, but with nothing to report I'll have to rely on Buchan Alpha once again to keep you entertained.

Yellow-browed Warbler - during the heavy 'fall' of birds in Oct 2005, Dave Penney simply picked this individual up off the pipework. If my memory serves me we caught a total of 4 over the years

Ditto - you'll have to click on the image and squint your eye to discern this one!

Pallas's Warbler - it would be fair to say the 'crown stripe' clinches this one. The day after this photo was taken, with the camera safely left in my cabin, no fewer than 7 Yellow-brows plus a single Pallas's were on the heli-net all in the same frame - what a miss

Peregrine with Herring Gull - on the 16th July 2007 what was thought to be a juvenile Peregrine landed on the rig then immediately attacked and caught an adult Great Black-backed Gull. We watched as it struggled to gain height, but the weight was simply too much and both birds fell into the sea. Undeterred, the falcon tried to secure its prey, but surface tension won the day. Flying back to the sanctuary of the barge the other attendant Gulls enjoyed an opportunistic free meal. Early next morning it was seen again patrolling the skies forward of the rig, when it made contact with an adult herring Gull forcing it onto the heli-deck netting, depicted in the photo. With a prey item of this size, it couldn't be imagined that hunger force it to take yet another adult Great Black-backed Gull the following day. The hapless Gull was taken mid air, and as if the Peregrine had learned from the previous encounter carried it, still flapping, into the moon-pool. The void area at the center of the rig, gives access to the sea where the production pipes and riser system run to the seabed and is notoriously dirty with oil and mud residue. Not surprisingly then that both birds got contaminated making them easy to catch. Enter Ricky (The Hammer) Grant who captured both, but by then the Gull was DoA ,the Peregrine being cleaned up and a makeshift cage being constructed. Next day it was sent to the beach on the crew change 'chopper none the worse for wear.

Peregrine - 'banged up' and ready for transportation

Storm Petrel - returning to yesterday's Twix Box Twins the Petrel was much less fortunate than its traveling companion. During my conversation with the Captain of the Standby Vessel he noted that this bird was waterlogged and would, quite rightly, be best off in the hands of an 'expert'. Gently wrapping it in paper towel I return with it to the warmth of the Marine Control Room. There it dried well, took some fish oil and a little tinned mackerel flesh plus enjoying a continuous stream of visitors and well wishers. By the turn of the watch, 18-00, it was considered strong enough to be returned to its own environment, so accompanied by a number of so called 'hard nut rig rats' we transported it to the lee of Delta Leg ready for release. Under cover of dark it was gently teased from the sanctuary of the tissue cocoon, offered up for a final goodbye from those present and released to the sea. It fluttered to the surface, started to preen, fluttered and flapped its tiny wings and was then 'taken' by a pherkin grit Black-backed Gull. Looking round at the drooping jaws and looks of bewilderment, I thought to myself "Yes, on such occasions it's always best to have an 'EXPERT' in attendance!!