The creation of a club for the purpose of encouraging oil and gas workers to watch birds may not at first seem a viable proposition. To the layperson, birds offshore conjures up an image of hundreds of "seagulls" following fishing boats, and very little else. Also, the act of birdwatching is not seen as a typical offshore worker's activity.

Anyone who has worked on an installation offshore and who has any interest in wildlife will be aware of the occasional presence of land-birds. Two decades ago, prompted by some keen offshore workers, a single oil company set up a monitoring programme, which quickly became popular with a number of its employees. Birds seen offshore were recorded on data forms and collected together. At this stage the club was purely another recreation facility; however, when the data were collated it was soon realised that installations offshore were being used as "staging posts" by birds on migration, and that the information being collected would be of great interest in the study of bird movements.

All over Britain, at strategic points on the coastline, there are bird observatories which record the arrival and departure of migrating birds. The presence of several hundred solid structures up and down the North Sea, which are used by birds en route, represents a huge, unique bird observatory, capable of uncovering facts about bird migration which have long eluded land-based scientists.

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