Rob Dove is one of four foreshore inspectors based at the Councils' Beach Office on Worthing seafront.
Rob previously served almost five years as an Infantryman on helicopter assault with 1 Squadron, as a machine gunner (GPMG) and team medic. He was deployed on two tours of Helmand Afghanistan and two campaigns in Libya.
Now 10 months in to the role of Foreshore Inspector, his forces background has him well prepared me for the diverse and challenging nature of the job!
You can read Rob's current 2018 blog posts on this page below
Like clockwork with military precision shortly after 4:30pm, when Worthing's Art Deco Pier turns on its warming colours, one of Worthing's many fauna tells us the day is drawing to a close.
Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are the performers, our Pier being their home to roost until dawn.
Whilst stunning to look at, this tactical, evasive manoeuvre is employed by them to combat the threat of aerial attack! Predators such as Peregrine falcons - which we do occasionally see darting low along our shingle coastline - find it hard to target one bird in the middle of a hypnotising flock of hundreds or thousands.
It's quite a scene to witness when the flock is being targeted by Sparrow Hawks or one lone Peregrine falcon. To me, the Starlings instantly take on the resemblance of a squadron of World War II B52 bomber aircraft being mauled by German fighters!
Unfortunately the Starling population in the UK has fallen by more than 80 per cent in recent years, meaning they are now on the critical list of UK birds most at risk.
The decline is believed to be due to the loss of permanent pasture, increased use of farm chemicals and a shortage of food and nesting sites in many parts of the UK.
Fortunately for us, here in Worthing we are able to offer them a diverse habitat in which to find their food at least. From our fantastic town centre parks with their native and diverse planting schemes, to our large grassed areas in our open spaces there are great foraging opportunities for wildlife - and the proof is in the steady Starling population we now have residing in our area.
Once the swaying and darting has sufficed, in unison a quick bold dash is made to the chosen spot among the iron works, below the decking. One fascinating fact is their intelligence, they gather to keep warm at night and to also exchange information, such as good feeding areas.
It's definitely worth making time to watch this mini spectacle as the light starts to fade. In my opinion it's the best dancing around this time of year and beats Dancing on ice and the likes any day!
Yes I'll agree our flock size isn't quite on par with the likes of Brighton's famous displays around Palace Pier but I still feel it's quite special and humbling to see a declining specie choosing to make Worthing Pier its home for the night.
Photo: A murmuration of starlings - an amazing sight
Photo: Lights on Worthing Pier coming on at dusk
OVER ... OUT ...
A certain event that hit our coastline this week took me back to 2012, that being the last time I had anything to do with ordinance, suspect or confirmed ...
The call came in from Solent Coastguard at mid-day on Monday the 12th of February.
A resident of Grand Avenue had phoned in to express their concern over a suspect metal object protruding from the end of the shingle shelf, near the Canadian war memorial.
I was tasked to attend, carry out a reconnaissance report and get eyes on the developing situation.
It was 50-50, I couldn't quite confirm whether the historic item was unexploded ordinance (UXO) or not. It looked very Naval, depth charge in size and shape with a robust build and lifting eye; not the characteristics of a standard oil drum.
Historically, Worthing's coastline was heavily defended during WW2 opposing what sometimes seemed an imminent German invasion. Depth charges were fired in huge quantities by the Allies in the Atlantic and English Channel, hunting the elusive but deadly U-boat Wolfpacks.
Therefore, lots of historic ordinance has been discovered over the years all along the south coast, from the aftermath of both world wars. A chilling reminder of darker days not so long ago.
Generally speaking though, any historic ordinance that is found in a coastline environment is normally redundant due to years of exposure to moisture; but should always be treated as if were fresh out the factory! Remember, even a hand grenade can still kill an unprotected man from 20 meters away!
A 100 metre cordon was enforced by myself and the Coastguard to allow bomb disposal to confirm the suspect item, police and the fire brigade were now also on the scene.
After some time digging, scrapping and scratching of berets, on returning the following day, the item was deemed to be a historic, robustly built liquid container and was removed and disposed of appropriately by Adur & Worthing Councils.
As a collective, the Beach office staff have lots of combined experience in dealing with UXOs from our previous careers, therefore we are always confident and capable in keeping you safe anywhere on YOUR coastline, even if history should come knocking!
Photos: Identifying the object and digging it up ...
OVER ... OUT ...
Ask me or any of the Foreshore service team what would be one of the worst situations that could arise on our coastline and 'oil spill' would come out on top.
A recent event has made me feel the need to inform you with a little look into our procedure and ultimately re-assure you of our capability should the worst ever happen ...
On Monday 22nd of January 2018, one lonesome 20ltr plastic fuel container washed up on the section of beach near Waterwise Gardens in Goring.
A dog walker telephoned in to us direct to report the finding. We are always extremely grateful when the public communicate with us. This further shows us how much the residents of Worthing are conscientious and caring about their coastline and it can sometimes make our reaction time to dealing with the incident a lot quicker.
My fellow Foreshore inspector Mat asked the caller to describe the situation to gauge volume of oil or any other useful, early information. He attended the scene and as it was safe to do so, brought the container back to the beach office. If the situation was larger in volume and outside the capabilities of us at a local level, then communication would have been made to base via our private VHF channel and Solent coastguard would have been informed along with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).
The area would then be cordoned off by us and further reconnaissance efforts and specialized contractors on standby would then be mobilized.
Once Mat returned to base, our own Adur & Worthing hazardous waste disposal team was directed to attend and collect. The substance inside seemed to have the consistency of a heavy grade motor fuel, not quite bunker fuel which a large tanker uses to power its engines, but not far off.
From the moment the fuel container was reported, our reconnaissance patrols have been on high alert for any other containers or loose oil beaching.
Thankfully this seemed to be a careless one off, but well worth the caution.
For public reassurance, three of our four Foreshore inspectors at the beach office are trained by the Maritime coastguard agency in reacting and dealing with a shore based oil spill of any substance or quantity. I was fortunate enough to be on the course a few weeks ago in Ipswich, so the team is always on standby with a contingency plan should the worst happen!
If you are one of many whom are getting actively involved with local beach cleans in our area, as mentioned by Paul Willis in an earlier post, then keep an eye out for anything similar.
Always relay any findings or sightings to your section leader immediately, should you discover a potential hazardous spill and the correct contingency plan will be activated.
Help us help your coastline, enjoy!
OVER ... OUT ...
Like most of you last night, with conditions perfect, I took the time to pop into the garden to gaze at the powerful sight of the super moon.
The light cast was piercing and it seemed possible to notice every small detail even with just the mark 1 eyeball. Being 30% brighter and 14% bigger than usual it must have been stunning if seen through a telescope.
The Blood moon was as predicted causing some big tides to swell up on our coastline to a height of 6.5 meters. But with high pressure and the wind eventually heading North-westerly these created no issues with breaching.
The last time this special event cast its mood on us here in Worthing was in 1866, just imagine Worthing as a small fishing village back then, cobbled terraced streets and lanterns.
The extra working light would have come in handy for Worthing's fishermen of old, especially so for those involved in Worthing's slowing but rife smuggling trade.
Talking of a bright Smuggler's moon, a modern day boost from mother nature occurs in the aftermath of a storm - like last week's Storm Georgina - as the window of opportunity is created for some great fishing.
Once the choppy waters cease and normality returns, the sea is full of colour by sediment disturbance;
That cloudy, murky and brown water may not look the best but it definitely fishes the best, just ask any fisherman!
Our current sea temperature here in Worthing is 8.2 degrees, which is perfect for Cod (Gadus morhua) and Channel Whiting (Merlangius merlangus), the prize species to catch in these conditions. The best fishing time is low light hours, and the best bait? Try lug worm, squid or mackerel slitherst.
As a keen sea angler myself it's nice to see our Pier producing good sized fish and as a Foreshore inspector I get to ensure the environment in which we fish is managed, respected and sustainable. Here at the beach office, we want all age groups and gender to enjoy the sport and ultimately have fun. We only ask you to bear in mind a few considerations:
Only fish between allocated green and orange coloured dots on the decking
- Respect the location
- Ensure mutual respect for all users of the pier
- No overhead casting unless fishing on the landing stage
- Dispose of all rubbish created appropriately
- Respect and follow the size guidelines for keeping any catch
From a conservation level and one I hope you will agree with, any undersized fish landed and kept will be followed by a swift fixed penalty notice (fine) should we notice or be informed of such practise. Minimum 'take home' sizes for the both are: Cod 35cm and Channel Whiting 27cm
Please report any breaches in the above to the beach office: 01903 238977
Fisherman's Tale: Why not print out pictures of your Pier catches, name and date the back of them, and drop them into the beach office and I may well look into creating a picture board somewhere to show off your angling prowess!
OVER ... OUT ...
Photo: Fishing off Worthing Pier
THIS IS WORTHING BEACH OFFICE ... STANDBY FOR MESSAGE ... OVER ...
Hello everyone! I'm Rob Dove, one of four foreshore inspectors based at the Councils' Beach Office in Worthing seafront (see photo right).
I have been passed the blogging torch by senior foreshore inspector Graham Cherrett to update you on news and events taking place on your coastline.
I'll start by giving you a brief background to introduce myself properly ...
I have worked for Adur & Worthing Councils for four years, previously as an Arborist with Parks & Foreshore and now working solely for the Foreshore department.
Previously, I served for almost five years as an Infantryman on helicopter assault with 1 Squadron, primarily as a machine gunner (GPMG) and team medic within my section.
I have been deployed on two tours of Helmand Afghanistan and two campaigns in Libya; providing force protection for the UK medical emergency response team (MERT), fire support for the Special forces reconnaissance regiment (SRR) and joint mechanised and foot patrols with the United states marine corps (USMC).
Now 10 months in to my role as Foreshore Inspector I can say that my forces background has really prepared me for the diverse and challenging nature of this job!
Preparation is key
Work is well underway at the Beach office as we prepare for this season's challenges and inevitable emergencies.
Training programs have been updated, rescue kit is accounted for and tested, and the ATV's (quad bikes!) are serviced. That's just to mention a few tasks!
We have been especially busy creating our new training board for teaching here at the Beach office. All four of us inspectors are RYA (Royal Yachting Association) instructors and have a range of maritime courses available to the public such as Powerboat levels 1 & 2 and PWC (Jet ski).
Please feel free to contact us for more information about the courses.
If you require advice or need emergency assistance, please don't hesitate to call us on 01903 238977 or pop into the Beach office.
I look forward to updating you again next week with with a situation report (SITREP) and all the latest news from our shoreline soon.
OVER ... OUT ...
Photo: Some of our equipment at the Beach Office - our ATVs and Ribs
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