Sunday, 6 November 2016


A DRONE enthusiast has posted on YouTube this video of a  barn owl  over saltmarsh.

The  owl does not seem to be in any distress, nor is there any indication of disturbance to waders, wildfowl or other birds.

But is drone-flying to be encouraged - particularly over a site of wildlife interest?

As the use of drones becomes more prevalent, it is a subject about which more is likely to be heard.

Meanwhile,  the RSPB - which campaigned against plans for a 300-turbine windfarm off the Yorkshire Coast has now accepted funding  from Dong Energy - the Danish company that plans to build and operate  the windfarm - for a drone initiative.

Dong has put out a media statement which says: " A high specification drone has been used in a successful trial to count cliff-nesting seabirds on the Yorkshire coast thanks to funding from Dong.

"The trial took place at Bempton Cliffs, part of an internationally important site which attracts over 250,000 birds annually, providing a breeding ground for many of them.

A drone, provided by environmental consultancy NIRAS, was used to see if the technology was suitable to carry out future surveys of cliff-nesting seabirds. 

"The survey data will be used by the RSPB, and it will also help as DONG Energy makes plans for the development of offshore wind farms off the Yorkshire coast, such as Hornsea Project Three."

The statement continues: "Previous seabird counts have been undertaken visually from a boat and were so highly weather dependent that it has limited the number of years in which complete colony counts have been possible."

According to Dong's UK environment specialist, Allen Risby, the success of the trial was dependent on the drone being able to get close enough to the colony "to provide imagery of a resolution sufficient to distinguish between the different bird species while ensuring ensuring that the breeding seabirds were not disturbed".

He added: "The birds showed minimal interest in the drone which produced photos detailed enough to distinguish between guillemots and razorbills, two species of auk that can look similar when observed from a distance."

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