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North Sea Oil Rig

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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 08:52   #1
mudman
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North Sea Oil Rig

I am currently sat on an oil rig approximately mid way between the Shetlands and Norway. The weather has been appalling for two days, not stormy but continual rain with a very low cloud base.Yesterday afternoon was the largest fall of migrants I ahve seen in nearly 10 years working offshore.

There were probably 100+ Redwings continually circling the rig throughout the night but very few landed for a rest, this is common behaviour for redwings and fieldfares. This morning there were also good numbers of song thrush and blackbirds but they do actually land on the rig.

The most numerous birds actually on the rig are goldcrests and brambings with around forty of each, possibly many more (its a huge oil rig!). Other sightings in the last 24 hours are:

Black caps.
Yellow browed warbler
Green finch
Siskins
Starlings
Snipe
Curlew
2 Herons

Two skeins of pink footed geese flew by jsut above the waves. I managed to call the single in so that it flew slowly past me just 20 yards away. These are the first wildfowl of any desciption I've seen offshore.


The Black backed gulls are picking off the odd tired migrant and I've found a couple of corpses already, a hen blackcap and another small warbler. Luckliy most of the birds are moving off as the weather is improving.
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 09:15   #2
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Fascinating stuff mudman,must relieve the boredom a bit.
How about taking a camera to work with you?It would be interesting to see the environment you work in,and some of the birdlife too?
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 09:33   #3
the bird
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mudman - don't suppose you were birding along the shoreline in Aberdeen about a month ago were you???


John.
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 09:43   #4
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Thumbs up

A big thanks for posting this. More please! Its really interesting to hear what is moving "out there" and gives us a good indication of what to look out for here on land.
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 10:35   #5
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Now then Mudman and greetings from a fellow Hully!!

Fascinating stuff and a real bonus of your job.Have you seen this months Birdwatch mag, re the article "Tales of the oil birds:Extreme birding in the North Sea"?Are you a member of the North Sea Bird Club? The birds recorded and mentioned in the article include Dark-eyed Junco, European Bee Eater, Rose Coloured Starling...etc

I look forward to more reports.

Anyway mate Im off to Hull Fair to cause mischief round the waltzers and get me an ASBO!
Best Wishes Chris
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 13:34   #6
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Great Stuff ! Would love to see some photo's too. I'd imagine the weather get fairly mad out there in Winter so must be interesting

Last edited by gareth2005 : Thursday 13th October 2005 at 15:17.
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 14:00   #7
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We have a member of BF who works on either an oil platform or a reasearch ship of some kind that was in the North Sea and he would post updates and pictures of what was passing. I used to look forward to each update.

Managed to find out his name after some searching- david r -and a link to one of his old reports. You could become a fellow North Sea reporter for us.
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=9510

You will have to take a camera back with you.

Last edited by Marmot : Thursday 13th October 2005 at 14:11. Reason: Found out name and report of BF member.
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 16:58   #8
mudman
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John, 'the bird', no not me, I generally hop in then straight out of Aberdeen up to Scatsa on the Shetlands, then on from there by chopper to the rig.

Well, the weather has improved greatly and the vast majority of the birds have moved off. Those that have sat the day out ,although its now good flying weather, will probably drop off their perches during the night. This migration business seems to be pretty brutal! I have had another scout around and seen about half a dozen bramblings, four or five blackcaps, a couple of song thrushes, four redwings, a robin and a hen chaffinch. A nondescript bunting/ finch (twite?) and a couple of warbler jobs, possibly whitethroats.

A sad sight was a cock and hen blackcap roosting tight next to each other in the sunlight all afternoon . I do not rate their chances, they should have moved off by now. Not much food here! Saying that I watched a cock brambling trying to make a meal of a dessicated pipe fish (either dropped or regurgiatated by a gull)

The gulls seem very predatory and I watched a couple of successful attacks on thrushes as they approched the rig. The gulls flew in pursuit of particularly tired looking birds that were already skimming the waves. They soon had them ditched in the sea where it was a simple matter to pick up their victims.

Corpse count so far is five bramblings and a goldcrest plus the blackcap and warbler thing from earlier. Only a fraction of what has past through/ by in the last day though.
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 17:46   #9
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Hi mudman, it would be interesting to keep a note of what the weather has been like prior to an influx of birds.

Whenever there is fog on the Captain Field (68 miles north of Aberdeen so 40ish offshore) a hawk arrives, as if on cue to hoover up the small brown jobs that arrive in a disorientated state. Think it may be a peregrine but have not seen it myself.
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Old Thursday 13th October 2005, 20:33   #10
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Thanks for the update mudman,i know you fellas do some daft hours but if you could find time to keep posting there are literally hundreds of us would be interested in your obs,take care.
Shane
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Old Friday 14th October 2005, 02:43   #11
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Yep, extremely interested! Even if reading posts from the middle of the North Sea make me reach for my down booties!
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Old Friday 14th October 2005, 10:17   #12
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It's really only in the past 30 years or so that large parts of the North Sea have become dotted with oil rigs, platforms, supply vessels etc, so I was just wondering if this has affected bird migration in any significant way, beneficial or otherwise. I would imagine it must be some help, by providing a place for a rest in bad weather, if not much in the way of food. Any thoughts on this?
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Old Friday 14th October 2005, 10:26   #13
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I find it very interesting, the bird info is great and a brilliant insight to migration. I'd the weather out there in winter is something that would have to be expiereanced to be believed though.
Anyway keep us up to date Mudman we love the posts !!
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Old Friday 14th October 2005, 10:27   #14
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What interesting posts mudman, hope we continue to see your reports.
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Old Friday 14th October 2005, 11:23   #15
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very interesting thread. Just a thought (probably wholly unrealistic) but would it not be possible to put out food/fresh water?

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Old Saturday 15th October 2005, 08:41   #16
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Fascinating reading mudman..... looking forward to your next report....

Last edited by Valerie : Tuesday 18th October 2005 at 14:15.
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Old Saturday 15th October 2005, 15:31   #17
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Mudman, were you into your birds before you started working off shore. Or is it seeing all these fantastic birds that land on your rig that got you interested?

I bet when you are stuck out there these sightings really light up your day.
I will look forward to hearing more from you, and thanks for sharing it with us.

PS could you give them directions towards the north of Scotland.
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Old Saturday 15th October 2005, 18:34   #18
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I left the rig yesterady morning and I am now back home. I had another look around before I went, most of the birds had moved on. There was a pair of blackcaps still so maybe I was overly pessimistic (or maybe they were differnt birds), a single blackcap,3 blackbirds, a redwing and a very weak song thrush. The pipefish eating brambling was still there, it was still having a nibble when I saw it but had pretty much finished it off so there was not much to go at. There was also a large warbler (slightly bigger than a blackcap) than had no real distinguishing features but reminded me of a reed warbler.

The night before i left i took two apples from the galley and broke them up for the birds, they seem to be to the liking of the thrushes and the blackcaps. A couple of trips ago a dunlin fed on bread and biscuit crumbs for a week. I did find a few prawns for it which it ate but it still seemed to like the bread.

On my very brief passage through Scatsa airport I saw four starlings and two hoodies.


The good thing about being on the rigs is that I have seen birds that are normally scarce in my local area (or at least scarce to me!) in quite good numbers. I have only seen one redstart on land but dozens offshore, likewise I have not seen pied flycatcher but for a couple of days they were all over one particular rig. The best find was some funny sounding starlings which on a closer look turned out to be a party og crossbills. Still waiting for a nice white phase Gyr though!
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Old Saturday 15th October 2005, 20:24   #19
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Hi Mudman,
I've also been fascinated with the snippets from the rigs. Its a side of birding that most of us cannot experience (or even imagine), making your reports all the more interesting and informative. You'd probably find some birders willing to pay to be there during peak migration time (or have they....).
I never visualised the Gulls taking their opportunities as you've described, although with the nature of these birds I should have known better.
Please keep up the postings, look forward to them.
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Old Saturday 15th October 2005, 21:49   #20
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Fascinating stuff!
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