Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Beached Bird Surveying

This is really a second-hand post. My brother, Fraser, who lives in the unspoilt wilderness of Dumfries and Galloway, indulges once a year in the rather arduous Beached Birds Survey for the RSPB. The general plan is that over 600 volunteers walk along more than 2,000 km of UK coastline during the last weekend in February, recording the number of dead and oiled seabirds. The level of oiling on the beach is also recorded.

Fraser has been at this for years and years, and has about a 10km stretch over some very inhospitable, rocky Wigtownshire coast. He's found all sorts over the years, and generally comes back with some entertaining tale. This year was to prove no exception. He found a whale!
It's enormous! Fraser tells me it's a Minke Whale, and that it must have washed up dead as there was no sign of it last year, and it wouldn't have rotted in that time. The skull as you see has teeny bits of stinky flesh still. The bottle next the vertebrae is a 2l water bottle to give you some idea of scale.
Fraser found very few dead birds this year, which is a good thing, but had an excess of cetacea. He also found this Harbour Porpoise - which I'm told was terribly smelly, but lacked the hoped-for accessory of an Ivory Gull. Sorry about the pics. Fraser in true Barclay form is generally only ever armed with a mobile-phone camera.

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