Marine News

By John Kinsman, station manager at Coastwatch St Monans, east Fife.

Birds cool their bills

Birds in the wild appear to lower the temperature of their bill to prevent heat loss in order to preserve energy when food is scarce, new research suggests. Researchers at Glasgow University used thermal imaging technology to measure the body temperature of a small songbird, the great tit, when faced with a temporary food shortage. The measurements showed that shortly after nutrition became unavailable, the birds allowed their bills to cool and their temperature remained below the temperature of when nutrition was available until it returned.

However roughly an hour into the food restriction the bill temperature began to gradually rise, suggesting both a level of control over how much the bill is allowed to cool and that cooling may have unwanted consequences such as reducing the bills functionality. Researchers said that while the technique of birds cooling their bills have previously been observed, when food was restricted for long periods in captivity, this is the first time it has been explored in birds in the wild.

Lead author Lucy Winder said, “What these findings tell us is that birds reduce heat loss from their bill by restricting the blood well before they enter a state of starvation. So when a reliable food supply is cut off birds are predicting they will face energetic shortfalls in future and are pre-emptively acting to prevent this from occurring.”

Group rescued from Fife Island

Rescuers from Fife went to the aid of four people trapped on Crammond Island in the Firth of Forth. The group were cut off by the tide after sailing to the island. Coastguard teams from the three stations and South Queensferry Lifeboat were involved in the mission to help them. The three men and a woman were fined by police when they were brought back to shore by the lifeboat. RNLI South Queensferry have urged people to avoid activity which could put emergency personnel at risk if they get into trouble.

Lockdown Rap

A couple who had to be rescued by helicopter after getting lost while out walking were hit by fines for flouting lockdown rules. Cops said police and Coastguard helicopters were called out along with several lifeboats after the pair called 999 to say they were stranded somewhere on the Argyle coastline.
The man 32, and woman 26, were eventually traced by emergency crews and rescued from a rock at around 11pm on Monday April 20th. Police said, “This incident should be a reminder to all that government guidance around essential travel should be obeyed.”

Two People in Water

A person in the water off Kirkcaldy was one of two people rescued on Sunday April 12th. Coastguard teams and Kinghorn Lifeboat were dispatched to the scene at around 5pm by HM Coastguard operations room. One person was pulled from the water and returned to shore by Kinghorn Lifeboat crew while a second casualty was located further along the coast. Leven Coastguard team said it was tasked to help a person in the water at Kircaldy.

A spokesman said, “Once on scene it was established that there were two persons in the water. One casualty was safely handed over to the care of ambulance crews while coastguards went to treat the other person further along the coast.”
Kinghorn Lifeboat said the volunteer crew were called out to a report of persons in the water north of Kirkcaldy. A spokesperson said, “We were grateful to the other local emergency services who worked together to bring the incident to a quick, safe conclusion.”

Oil Rig

A massive oil rig, the Deep Sea Aberdeen, sailed up the Firth of Forth last month to an anchorage off Kirkcaldy. The Deep Sea Aberdeen was spotted by Coastwatch St Monans duty crew passing Bass Rock while en route to her anchorage.

Picture taken by Coastwatch St Monans duty crew shows the Deep Sea Aberdeen making her way up the Firth of Forth.

Duty Continues

Coastwatch St Monans station is closed, as are sister stations at Irvine, Berwick, Pakefield, Redcar, Sheringham, Happisburgh, Winterton and Sunderland, who are all part of the sea safety group, but are still maintaining lookout duties despite the current virus lockdown. Members of the team are carrying out daily patrols on coastal paths and harbours and beaches to ensure safety.