Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Sailors give tired pigeons a lift

Sailors aboard HMS Diamond helped create a perch and bedding box and provided food for the two racing pigeons

A Royal Navy warship has given shelter to two stowaway pigeons that became exhausted off the UK coast.

Sailors aboard HMS Diamond helped create a perch and bedding box and provided food for the two racing pigeons which came on board off the coast of Plymouth, Devon.

Leading Seaman Leigh Branson, a racing pigeon enthusiast, helped create the home for the pigeons, which they nicknamed Gregory Peck and Sir Henry Cecil.

The temporary nest was placed on the quarterdeck as it was covered by CCTV, enabling the crew to watch over the pigeons with their own Springwatch-style birdcam.

Once the Type 45 destroyer returned to its home base of Portsmouth, Hampshire, the birds were fitted with their own tag before they took flight to return to their homes.

Navigating officer Lieutenant Eleanor Tilley said: "A ship at sea obviously attracts the occasional bird, but these are usually transient and depart after a short period. Gregory and Cecil were clearly struggling with the journey they had been on and needed help.

"Having seen them on board for a few days, and knowing that the ship was to be at sea for some time, the bridge team felt obliged to give them a little support to aid them on their way."

HMS Diamond's commanding officer Commander Andy Ingham said: "They have been fairly unusual additions to the ship's company on board. However, both of them have been popular with the team and a healthy distraction for some during our recent time at sea. I suspect they were quite sorry to say goodbye to our transient passengers."

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