DONG Energy has funded a high-specification drone was used in a successful trial to count cliff-nesting seabirds at a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve on the Yorkshire coast. The trial took place at Bempton Cliffs, part of an internationally important site, which attracts over 250,000 birds annually and offers a breeding ground for many of them.
The survey data will be used by the RSPB and 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 drone was provided by environmental consultancy, NIRAS, to see if the technology was suitable to carry out future surveys of cliff-nesting seabirds.
“DONG Energy is pleased to be working with the RSPB to trial this novel approach to counting seabirds. Obtaining accurate counts of breeding seabirds is important for monitoring the health of the colony at this iconic site,” said Allen Risby, Lead Environment and Consents Specialist at DONG Energy.
Previous seabird counts have been undertaken visually from a boat, and were highly dependent on the weather. This limited the number of years in which complete colony counts have been possible.
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 that the breeding seabirds were not disturbed.
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