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Old Monday 18th April 2016, 21:33   #1
Ross Ahmed
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Tracked seabirds

Rare seabirds are often tracked moving along the English east coast eg Fea's-type Petrel seen at 14 locations as it moved north on 21st September 2014. However, it seems that Spurn is the most southerly location that tracked seabirds are seen and (roughly) St Abbs is the most northerly location. Can anyone think of any tracked seabirds on English/Scottish east coast tracked north of St Abbs and south of Spurn?
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Old Tuesday 19th April 2016, 08:28   #2
Fat Paul Scholes
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Hi Ross,

Good question, and the short answer from me is 'no'!

I've often wondered what happens to all of the seabirds that are recorded along the NE coast of England. I know the seawatching effort will not be comparable, but it does happen up here in NE Scotland, and yet Balearic and large shears, and Sabs are less than annual, and Fea's types virtually unheard of. Long-tailed skua is another that is recorded in very low numbers, relative to further south.

For birds moving northward, I wonder if something happens around the Firth of Forth - perhaps birds move further offshore here to richer feeding areas, and continue northward via the Wee Bankie, far too far offshore to be seen from land.

In Sept 07 there were large numbers of great shear in the North Sea - with 35 past Flamborough on 11th, and multiple birds on many other days. Also, several hundred went past North Ron at about the same time (peaking at 91 on 12th). During this time, only 6 were seen off Aberdeenshire, despite us all being wise to what was happening, and putting a fair bit of time in! It makes sense to me that the Yorkshire and Orkney birds were part of the same movement, and that they passed too far off the east coast of Scotland to be detected.

It would be good to see if there are any tracks from tagged seabirds that could help out.
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Old Thursday 21st April 2016, 15:07   #3
Mark Newsome
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Great topic and one which poses more questions than gives anwers. I guess there'll be more subtleties at play rather than just a seabird migrating from A to B. Wind direction on a certain stretch of coastline will be a major factor; Whitburn (where I watch) can be great for Sooty Shearwaters on a northerly, but a slight bit too much from the NW can result in birds being (presumably) 3-4 miles offshore, rather than 1-2 - and therefore largely missed. Flamborough scores heavily in NW winds, but the geography of the Headland and birds not hugging the coast can result in a rather low percentage being seen further north.
Maybe feeding conditions also come into play. I've seen seabirds like Fea's, Cory's, Greats, Storm Petrels and Sabs all pulled in by feeding frenzies and linger. If feeding conditions on a stretch of coast are relatively poor, birds may well pass quicker/further out.
Not sure why NE Scotland doesn't pick as much up as it possibly should do; maybe tempted further offshore like you suggest Mark? I guess to the south, water depths and the looming landmass of North Norfolk may be a factor in preventing some seabirds moving that far south (other than in a real blasting northerly). Maybe more pelagic species like Sooty Shearwater (rather than inshore coastal species like skuas) have that inbuilt radar that says 'turn round!' once they're in the relatively shaller seas off East Yorkshire?
Plenty intriguing questions!

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Old Monday 25th April 2016, 19:06   #4
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I wonder if the shallower water off the Forth diverts them further out? Unfortunately the map doesn't extend further north, and other North Sea bathymetric maps I found didn't show the perhaps critical 50m depth contour.

The shallowness of the North Sea south of Flam' is certainly obvious.

Source of map: http://www.doggerbank.nl/index-old.htm

Also possible the 'top right' corner of Northumberland (Farne Islands, Holy Island) divert birds offshore more too? Most tracked birds seem to stop there, without being seen from St Abbs?
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Old Monday 25th April 2016, 19:12   #5
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Found a much larger (tho' less clearly coloured) bathymetric map of the whole of the North Sea:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/F...Sea_map-en.png
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Old Tuesday 26th April 2016, 18:17   #6
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Further south birds are frequently tracked north up the Suffolk coast eg Landguard to Lowestoft but then they veer out by the wind turbines on Scroby Sands so are not tracked from Norfolk. For example on 1st sept 2002 we had county record counts of Sooty Shearwaters off the Suffolk coast inc 253 north off Lowestoft but this passage was not noted in Norfolk for the above reason. Such birds tracking north up the coast would maybe then again become visible off Spurn missing Norfolk entirely.
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Old Tuesday 26th April 2016, 21:15   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutcracker View Post
Found a much larger (tho' less clearly coloured) bathymetric map of the whole of the North Sea:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/F...Sea_map-en.png
Thanks, really useful.
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Old Wednesday 27th April 2016, 09:07   #8
Mark Newsome
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cortonbirds View Post
Further south birds are frequently tracked north up the Suffolk coast eg Landguard to Lowestoft but then they veer out by the wind turbines on Scroby Sands so are not tracked from Norfolk. For example on 1st sept 2002 we had county record counts of Sooty Shearwaters off the Suffolk coast inc 253 north off Lowestoft but this passage was not noted in Norfolk for the above reason. Such birds tracking north up the coast would maybe then again become visible off Spurn missing Norfolk entirely.
You've touched on one important factor there - wind turbines. More are appearing off the east coast and I'm sure they have a major bearing on the track seabirds take. Ask the seawatchers at Hartlepoool... volume of seabird passage has slipped downhill since the 27 turbines went up in Tees bay in 2013, and painfully, they were about the only site on the east coast that didn't get the tracked Fea's (type) Petrel in 2014. The general feeling is that birds are cutting across the bay much further out than previously.

Not sure how the 'worlds largest offshore wind farm' is going to affect things off the East Yorkshire coast - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-humber-35483190

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Old Wednesday 27th April 2016, 11:17   #9
Nutcracker
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Related threads:
Fea's Petrel 21/09/2014
Great Shearwater 05/09/2015
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