Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Bits 'n' Pieces - The Dave Clarke 5

A memory jerker this, the very second I clapped eyes on those 'high-collar,
side-neck buttoned shirts' it was down the road to get one! As one of the early
MODS (in oppose to Rockers - YUK!) and a model of sartorial elegance my wardrobe
already sported high-heeled almond toed boots, frilly-fronted shirts and 4-buttoned, high collared
suits (circa The Kinks). Was at one time thinking of getting an orange cravat
but didn't want to look ridiculous!
In my little world it would I would consider myself a loser if at 70 years young
I were sat here saying to myself "I wish I'd done this, or I wish I'd done that"!
NO ONE TOLD YOU WHEN TO RUN, YOU MISSED THE STARTING GUN"
Pink Floyd
Anyroad, delving into the plethora of recent photograph files we fine a few that might
have been published before now had time allowed.
Again we have to report that the wind then had remained firmly fixed in the
North and East,
and while catches might be better on a more South Westerly zephyr we were still adding 
new species of Moth to the Year List.

NARROW-WINGED PUG
and
TREBLE-BAR
An early morning sighting of c7 'over-flying'
WHIMBREL
 which were found later in the day at
video
 Mead Close
one of the larger fields here at
Parley Court Farm
video
and now planted with this years
Maize Crop.
As can be seen, these
video 
BULLFINCHES
were, in the first instance, seen feeding on the deck not in our experience 
at all common practise
 but soon took to the Birches
on our approach.
video
The male 
COOT 
is now providing food for the female on the nest 
at the Irrigation Pond but not exactly a banquet!
video
While a male
GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER
gleans the fence posts at the Solar panel Compound.
While also favouring the same fence line
 and breeding close by
 STARLING
 JACKDAW
along with very healthy
GREENFICH
video
 with no signs of the disease effecting others across the County.
Yet another short foray along the
MOORS RIVER
 found examples of
 GREATER TUSSOCK SEDGE
 CHAFFINCH
nest building
 and
CHERRY BLOSSOM
was this a case of 
Big in Japan - Alphaville 
or
Do you remember chalk hearts melting on a playground wall
Do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college halls
Do you remember the cherry blossom in the market square
Do you remember I thought it was confetti in our hair
It is doubtful there is a Prog Rocker alive who would disagree that
Misplaced Childhood (from which Kayleigh is taken) or
Clutching at Straws (both by Marillion)
are not 2 of the most cleverly penned and musically sound
albums even composed!
We digress:-
ROE DEER
video
browsing at the Irrigation Pond,
 From
Longham Lakes
 GREYLAG GEESE
 and
 COMMON SANDPIPER
 MOORHEN
 at the Gravel Pit and from the Heath
 STONECHAT
and another, seemingly younger
video
ROE DEER
Music Trivia - Dave Clarke is one of the richest individuals
 in Rock 'n' Roll, a man who really kept his wits about him!
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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Buchan Alpha - 1980 to 2017

At 08:00 precisely on Saturday 13th May 2017
Deck Foreman Ricky (The Hammer) Grant 
 depressed the
PURPLE BUTTON 
onboard the
BUCHAN ALPHA 
FLOATING OIL PRODUCTION PLATFORM
120 miles North East of Aberdeen in the
NORTH SEA!
This effectively brought to an end a 37 year long struggle to
produce, from a water depth of 131 metres, no few than
150,000,000 Barrels of
Brent Crude Oil! 
(or, in approximate terms 4.1 million barrels per year at a day rate of 11,106 barrels)
DEDICATED TO 'ALL' THE GIRLS AND BOYS WHO PLAYED THEIR 
PART AS CREW MEMBER OF BUCHAN ALPHA!
If there were to be a 'show of hands' of those who had worked with 
'BETTER' 
shipmate's the air would remain empty!
GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL
 Most neatly in Alpha-Betical Order
 ATLANTIC GREY SEAL
(clambering onto one of the pontoons to catch a few rays!)

 ARCTIC TERN

 BARNACLE GOOSE

 BLACK GUILLEMOT

BLACKBIRD

 BLACKCAP

 BLACKCAP (soixante neuf) 
oh we do love French food don't we Jim?
 BLACK-HEADED GULL
(catching, killing and swallowing a perfectly healthy, until then, Brambling)

BLUETHROAT

 BRAMBLING


(partially albino)

 BRAMBLING

 CHIFFCHAFF
 (an 8 inch length of 'fine cotton' was remover from this bird's throat likely saving its life)

 COLLARED DOVE

 COMMON SCOTER

 CONVOLVULOUS HAWK-MOTH
 CROSSBILL
 
(there was a heartbeat or two missed when, what turned out to be, 
white paint was spotted on this male bird)

 EIDER
 GARDEN WARBLER
 GLAUCOUS GULL
 
Size-wise, from the sublime

 GOLDCREST
 to the ridiculous

 GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL
GREENFINCH
HOODED CROW
 (probably qualifying as the most 'unlikely' bird recorded on the rig)
HOUSE SPARROW

 JACK SNIPE 
and next, therein lies a tale!
With our Standby Boat chugging around us in ever decreasing circles 
(and only occasionally disappearing) it was inevitable that they too would collect
their own share of birds. About to disappear after a night-shift, to a cosy, leeward corner
of the upperdeck to commence the early morning Bird Watch, there was a call from the
Captain of the Standby Boat to inform me that his lads had caught a couple of birds overnight
and as the 'EXPERT' they (thought to be a Linnet and a House Martin) would be safer in my hands!!
Throwing down a heaving line, the Twix Chocolate Box was carefully removed from the transfer bag
and gently carried to my cabin to commence a full investigation. First out was the Linnet which was
not a Linnet at all, but a far more 'rare' 

 LITTLE BUNTING 
while the House Martin, which had been 'in my hand' a number of times before,
turned out to be a

 STORM PETREL
 which I had never 'seen' in the hand let alone anything else!
Both identification were well in order, given the similarity with the species cited, 
but now there was the conundrum of what to do with them. My telephone call to
Bristow's, on the beach, was met like so many before it, gaining permission 
to transport the Bunting to Aberdeen by helicopter, while taking the Petrel,
in a tissue paper lined box, to the Control Room and getting my 'back to back' 
to feed it fish oil and/or fish if possible.  

During my absence, it was reported that just about every crew member
on the rig had popped in to visit this tiny sea-bird, which by then
appeared fit enough to be released. EXPERTLY, and under partial darkness, it was taken from the box
and with an entourage following taken to Delta Column to be released to the sea. 
It gently fluttered to the surface where it immediately started preening, just
moments
before being swallowed whole by a 
  GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL
 
The moral of the tale being
"it's always
advantageous to have an EXPERT on hand"!

 By contrast the 
LITTLE BUNTING
reached Aberdeen safely and transported onward to the Fishing Village of Cove, just south of the city,
by a member of the North Sea Bird Club where it was 'ringed' and released to the
delight of an appreciative audience.
The new adornment can be seen in the image above.

LITTLE AUK 
 Further to that, on the occasion of my 50th birthday one of the Rig Engineers,
Mark Leiper, paid me a visit at mid-night announcing that he had a 'little' present for me.

 Handing me a small cotton bag, which some crew members carried for the purpose,
inside was a


LITTLE STINT

the first and only to grace Buchan's decks!

 LONG-EARED OWL

LUMPFISH

 MEALY REDPOLL

 MERLIN 
(breakfasting on Redwing)

 MOORHEN
 MAGPIE MOTH
 
(on one occasion 'thousands' adorned our support columns)

 PEREGRINE
This bird first 'took' a Great Black-backed Gull (well over twice its own size)
and forced it into the sea. It was surface tension alone which prevented
it being dragged back to the rig, at which point it gave up on that.
The following day it was again seen with prey on the heli-netting, pictured above,
this time an adult Herring Gull, which it partially ate.


Finally, it was seen by 'The Hammer' rolling amongst the debris in the
 Buchan Moon-Pool
whilst killing a second Great Black-backed Gull.
He eventually caught the now soaked falcon and confined it
to a quickly knocked-up make shift cage. The following day it was
flown to Aberdeen by helicopter, where it was cleaned up and released to the wild!
'Well done The Hammer'

 PIED FLYCATCHER
 REED BUNTING
 Examples of
 Migration
 'Still' photographs can come nowhere near showing an accurate account
of such mass-movements!
 NORTHERN PIPE-FISH
 RED ADMIRAL
SISKIN
 STARLING
 (on the heli-netting)

  HOVERFLY
Syrphus Ribesii

If you squint rather tightly you may just be able to make out Buchan Alpha's only
TURTLE DOVE

WATER RAIL

WIGEON
(female)

An annual visitor often in numbers, double figures,

YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER
(on one occasion c7 were seen in company with c3 Pallas's Warbler on the same heli-net)



SHORT-TOED LARK
Well Almost in Alph-Betical Order!
Footnote:- during my 18 years in Buchan 13,000 records were sent to the
North Sea Bird Club!

While one 
OSPREY
was seen during my time, a bird that was thought to have roosted in 
the derrick before continuing north at first light.
Dave Penney's Swan Song and surely appropriately that of the Rig


is this magnificent Bird of Prey!
Appropriate, as the Rig Crest depicts a hovering Kestrel surmounted 
above the active flare.
 While under conversion in Kishorn, in the Highlands region of Scotland,
from a Drilling Rig to a Production Facility
a pair of Kestrel nested in the derrick, bringing off c4 young.
This was considered a great omen for her future in 'production' and the motif was born!

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