RICHARD WILLIAMSON Nature Trails February 3

Chichester and Pagham harbours would be directly affected by oil drilling in the Russian arctic if ever any accidents occurred.

The Kara Sea is the summer home of many of our winter flocks of water birds.

I can think of 15 species at least that could be crippled by oil spillage to the extent of that suffered by the Gulf of Mexico last year.So let’s hope nothing goes wrong, as we are assured by British and Russian governments.

Conservationists are pessimists to be sure, but the sight of brent geese up to their eyes in black gold is the stuff of nightmares.

As for polar bears and seals and all that lovely underwater ’scape where the halibut roams and the great northern diver wails his haunting cry to the midnight sun after plunging the icy depths: well, words describing a holocaust among such species fail in the mind.

But of course it won’t happen, will it? Not only that, but we all need oil to make the world go round.

The whole world is in top gear and it would spell failure for any politician to stop it. Even electric cars have to be juiced up somehow, either with coal or biofuels which result in rain forest destruction, or by nuclear power which tempts naughty thoughts in the minds of terrorists.

As for storage of waste products, some have even suggested we might have to fire them at the sun in one-way rockets to add to that majestic bonfire.

Hardly. You juggle all this impossibility in the imagination and come back in the wee small hours of doom to the cheering thought if you can, of these superb displays of brent geese flighting across our Sussex skies.

My walk this week reminds you of that grandstand view of all that winter skies and seascapes can produce. When you see the thousand-plus birds performing there, think of that harbour stage without its actors.

Brent geese, arctic tern, arctic skua, pomarine skua, bean goose, dunlin, little stint, Temminks stint, ruff, grey phalarope, red-necked phalarope, golden plover, grey plover, turnstone and snipe are amonong those water birds we often enjoy down here which fill the shores of the Kara Sea in summer.

People have already coined the name – Bolshoi Petroleum, a joint venture of benefit to us all.

It has to remain a benefit, an export like all that country can produce which is so good and which we enjoy down here - ballet and brents, the music of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, the grand chorus of seabirds against the stars, the poetic works of Pushkin and the dramas of Chekhov as diverse and sustaining as the battles of wits we see along the waterfront.

Enjoy the Russian exports in the next few weeks until they fly back in March – and hope for the best in the years to come.