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Old Tuesday 27th December 2016, 13:38   #101
Gander
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Glaucous

Before sun up this morning, I was out and about, with conditions being a lot better following yesterday's storm. Under the platform, there was a bunch of gulls wheeling about just over the water. One of them stood out, being bigger than even the GBBGs that were around it. It looked like a big version of the Iceland Gull we had a few days ago, but this was much bigger, and as I focused in on it, I could see a large, light coloured beak with a black tip.

I was not able to stay as I had other duties, but once light a few hours later, I had a quick scan of the assembled GBBGs and Herring Gulls sitting off the platform and I briefly found it again. This time I could see the black tipped beak had a very pinkish look.

Later in the day, I was carrying out a job that involved the use of a camera. Looking out, I saw this large gull with its white tipped wings fly in and land on the water. It was at range, but as you can see in the attachment, I did manage to get a decent record shot.

Sadly, my Common Scoters seem to have moved on. Present today though were Herring Gull, GBBG and Kittiwake, along with my first ever Glaucous Gull. I am having a great December. Four birds new to the platform in Common Scoter, Iceland Gull, Turnstone and Glaucous Gull, with the gulls being lifers for me.

Also had a Grey Seal today.
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 11:55   #102
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Gulls Galore

This is usually the quietest time of year for bird spotting out here, but the birds are having none of that this year. I came out the door at 05:15hrs with the intention of a quick look around for yesterday's 1W Glaucous, however, I was greeted by over eight hundred gulls; about seven hundred and fifty of which were Herring Gulls. The rest were GBBGs, but there could easily have been a few Glaucous mixed in.

At about eight with the sky starting to carry a bit of light, I was outside again. The Herring Gull flock had significantly reduced. Very quickly I found the Glaucous, which I believe was the same bird as yesterday. Later in the morning, I was carrying out a task taking photos, when another bird came into view (see photos). This bird was a lot lighter in shade (a 2W bird I am informed from the Bird Identification Q&A pages). You would think that Glaucous Gulls were common offshore, but I have checked the NSBC annual reports for 2013 and 2014, and there is no entry for them.

Throughout the morning, I have located the 1W Glaucous several times. In fact, I'm starting to think there may well be at least two 1W birds about, but I have not seen two at the same time.

Only other change is a reduction in Kittiwake. Just one spotted.
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 12:37   #103
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Now I haven't seen one for about 15 years, but those wingtips projecting so far beyond the tail would suggest Iceland Gull to me (prepares to get shot down by all and sundry.......).
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 14:33   #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Prior View Post
Now I haven't seen one for about 15 years, but those wingtips projecting so far beyond the tail would suggest Iceland Gull to me (prepares to get shot down by all and sundry.......).
I did have suspicions myself and put the photo up on the Bird Identification Q&A pages. Only one response from ninety views so far, but that was a vote from Sweden for Glaucous . I've sent the photos in to the NSBC recorder, so hopefully I'll be able to get a confirmation from him. I'll keep you updated.

Last edited by Gander : Wednesday 28th December 2016 at 14:37.
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 14:36   #105
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I did have suspicions myself and put the photo up on the Bird Identification Q&A pages. Only one response from ninety views so far, but that was a votefrom Sweden for Glaucous . I've sent the photos in to the NSBC recorder, so hopefully I'll be able to get a confirmation from him. I'll keep you updated.
Thanks
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 16:52   #106
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I'd agree with Iceland. Doesn't look 'snouty' enough for Glauc, i.e. forehead too rounded and bill too short.

Good to hear what's turning up out there. Hopefully a few more white-wingers are headed our way.
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 17:58   #107
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More Glaucous and Scoters.

Received a call this afternoon that there were two ducks off the South side of a platform. A quick check and surely enough there were two female Scoters bobbing about. It is only a guess, but I suspect these are two of the four birds that turned up before Christmas.

As I was out, I did a quick circuit, and found two 1W Glaucous Gulls under the platform (see photos). There was a Grey Seal down there feeding on a large fish (probably Coalfish), while a mob of GBB and Herring gulls battled it out for the scraps. One of the Glaucous had a right old set to with a GBBG. I think the GBBG edged it, but only just.

Earlier, I managed to grab a photo of a Glaucous in flight (see photos - appears darker than it actually was)

Also present this afternoon were a few more Kittiwakes and a Fulmar. Been a while since I've seen a Fulmar here.

Tonight, the gulls are gathering again. They seem to be drawn close in by the lights. There were a good few hundred around all day following the eight hundred plus I counted before sun up. I'm just away out now for a final check.
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 19:59   #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gander View Post
Received a call this afternoon that there were two ducks off the South side of a platform. A quick check and surely enough there were two female Scoters bobbing about. It is only a guess, but I suspect these are two of the four birds that turned up before Christmas.

As I was out, I did a quick circuit, and found two 1W Glaucous Gulls under the platform (see photos). There was a Grey Seal down there feeding on a large fish (probably Coalfish), while a mob of GBB and Herring gulls battled it out for the scraps. One of the Glaucous had a right old set to with a GBBG. I think the GBBG edged it, but only just.

Earlier, I managed to grab a photo of a Glaucous in flight (see photos - appears darker than it actually was)

Also present this afternoon were a few more Kittiwakes and a Fulmar. Been a while since I've seen a Fulmar here.

Tonight, the gulls are gathering again. They seem to be drawn close in by the lights. There were a good few hundred around all day following the eight hundred plus I counted before sun up. I'm just away out now for a final check.
I wonder if that 2nd 1w Glauc is actually a Viking Gull or backcross with some Herring genes as it is very well marked, especially the primaries.
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2016, 21:16   #109
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Hi gander, I love your reports,your enthusiasm for birds , I am getting to my sell buy date, if not for you , sounds like a song. The posts from the Scottish forum would be dormant, before you say anything look at the 3 months post unless you are trying to sell something.
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Old Thursday 29th December 2016, 04:49   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotspur View Post
I wonder if that 2nd 1w Glauc is actually a Viking Gull or backcross with some Herring genes as it is very well marked, especially the primaries.
Hybrids scare me. It's hard enough with all the variations in one species.

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Hi gander, I love your reports,your enthusiasm for birds , I am getting to my sell buy date, if not for you , sounds like a song. The posts from the Scottish forum would be dormant, before you say anything look at the 3 months post unless you are trying to sell something.
Thanks Tommy. It is a two way street though. I've learnt a huge amount off this forum and met some great people from it. I'm glad to be able to give something back.
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Old Thursday 29th December 2016, 12:05   #111
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And the birds keep coming!

Early morning (05:20) gull count was an estimated 1500 gulls, mainly Herring Gull, but with a liberal sprinkling of GBBGs. Found one of the 1W Glaucous pretty easily as it was right under the platform.

Back out at first light (08:30 ish) and the vast majority of gulls had moved away. Only 100 or so left to guard the fort. No sign of any Glaucous, and no sign of the Scoters. No surprise on the Scoter front as they don't seem to like going near any concentrations of gulls, so I suspect they move way off when the platform becomes totally surrounded by gulls at night.

At about 10:30 things changed drastically. I was keeping an eye open for the Scoters, when I noticed a small duck directly below me. A nice Long-Tailed Duck (Female) to be exact. Then as I was taking a few pictures, a Glaucous Gull paddled into view. Pictures of both taken, I walked around a corner and there on the water was what I thought at first was another L-T Duck. Getting the monocular onto it revealed it was actually a Guillemot. Not seen one of those here for a while.

And finally, I moved around to the other side of the platform and there were my two Common Scoters.

Any thoughts on why 95% of the ducks I get here are female???
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Last edited by Gander : Thursday 29th December 2016 at 12:08.
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Old Thursday 29th December 2016, 21:19   #112
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Any thoughts on why 95% of the ducks I get here are female???
I think it's more likely that a high proportion are first-winters, so could be male or female.
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Old Friday 30th December 2016, 09:11   #113
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I think it's more likely that a high proportion are first-winters, so could be male or female.
Thanks. That makes more sense.
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Old Friday 30th December 2016, 09:21   #114
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2016 Species List

A day or two early I know, but I think I'm safe in releasing the complete bird 2016 species list for the platform. So here it is

1. Redwing
2. Blackbird
3. Starling
4. Fieldfare
5. Herring Gull
6. Great Black-Backed Gull
7. Kittiwake
8. Carrion Crow
9. Gannet Guillemot
10. Guillemot
11. Goldcrest
12. Robin
13. Common Gull
14. Fulmar
15. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
16. Collared Dove
17. Lesser Whitethroat
18. Black-Headed Gull
19. Eider
20. Greylag
21. Willow Warbler
22. Great Skua
23. Sparrowhawk
24. Blackcap
25. Grey Heron
26. Pied Wagtail (Yarelli)
27. Meadow Pipit
28. Curlew
29. Icterine Warbler
30. Pink-Footed Goose
31. Song Thrush
32. Short-Earred Owl
33. Northern Wheatear
34. Brambling
35. Barnacle Goose
36. Velvet Scoter
37. Long-Tailed Duck
38. Chiffchaff
39. Common Scoter
40. Iceland Gull
41. Glaucous Gull
42. Turnstone
43. Peregrine
44. Kestrel
45. Long-Earred Owl

Last three were not seen by me, but reported to me. In addition, I did find dead specimens of Little Bunting, Ringed Plover and Jack Snipe.

Forty eight bird species in total for the year. Not bad for a little metal island in the middle of the North Sea!
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Old Friday 30th December 2016, 17:03   #115
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Icelandic Visitor

Managed to grab a few shots of an Iceland Gull today. It was mixed in with a large flock of Herring Gull, but was one of the closest to the platform. Now I've got a picture or two, I can see that the bird in post #102 was indeed a Glaucous. That has also been confirmed in the linked thread.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....=1#post3503580

I hadn't realised there was such a size difference between the two species, but as you'll see in the attached photos, the Iceland is slightly smaller than the Herring Gull next to it. The Glaucous are definately much bigger, and look to be on a par with the biggest of the GBBGs.

Speaking of Glaucous, there were four of them in the HG flock this afternoon. GBBG also present with a few Kittiwakes. On the duck front there were only the two Common Scoter spotted. The L-T seems to have moved on.
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Old Saturday 31st December 2016, 12:03   #116
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A lot less gulls around today, however, the Iceland and at least three of the Glaucous are still present. The main flock is still dominated by Herring Gull (69) and GBBG (11), but I carried out my count well after sun up. Still more gulls present during the hours of darkness, but still less than in recent times. A few Kittiwake soaring about and a single Gannet spotted far out.

Our two Common Scoters are also still here and look set to see in the New Year with us.
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Old Saturday 31st December 2016, 23:36   #117
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What a great thread. I am amazed at how many different species you have spotted way out there. Being a newbie I had no idea so many of these birds were migratory lol. Looking forward to more sightings from the North Sea.

Happy New Year
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Old Sunday 1st January 2017, 14:09   #118
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New Years Day

Lots of gulls around the platform at five this morning. I found one of the Glaucous pretty easily, right under the platform, but I couldn't locate the Iceland Gull that has been around. I also noticed an increase in Fulmars - up to three, but a continued decrease in Kittiwakes - only one showing.

Later in the morning, I went looking for my Iceland Gull. The Herring Gull/GBBG flock had all but disappeared, although I did spot a couple of hundred sat on the water much further out than usual. The Glaucous was still under the platform with a few remaining Herring & GBB Gulls, but it wasn't looking good for finding the Iceland. Looking down towards one of the platform legs, I did find something that was just as welcome as the Iceland - a Long-Tailed Duck. First duck of the year. This may not sound as something too exciting, "Sea Duck found at sea", but I am very proud of the platforms duck record. To put it in context, there were no ducks reported from platforms to the NSBC in the whole of 2014.

I had just about given up on the Iceland Gull, when it came into view. It was now pretty close to the Glaucous, which made ID pretty easy. Another good tick for 2017.

A little later, whilst out and about, our two resident Common Scoters put in an appearance. They had a new companion with them having teamed up with the L-T Duck.

One final spot in the afternoon was a Gannet making a close fly by.

So, after day one of 2017, my platform year list looks like this

1. Herring Gull
2. Great Black-Backed Gull
3. Glaucous Gull
4. Iceland Gull
5. Fulmar
6. Kittiwake
7. Long-Tailed Duck
8. Common Scoter
9. Gannet
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Old Sunday 1st January 2017, 14:14   #119
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A lovely list to start the year off with Paul.... Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Starlings and Chaffinch for me. I don't know what's happened to all my usual birds.

Happy New Year lad. All the best for 2017.
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Old Sunday 1st January 2017, 14:52   #120
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Happy New Year lad. All the best for 2017.
And a very happy and bird filled New Year to you too.
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Old Sunday 1st January 2017, 15:09   #121
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Sounds like a pretty good start to the year.

Happy New Year and keep up the good work on quite an unusual and interesting thread.

Cheers
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Old Monday 2nd January 2017, 12:08   #122
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I've just been catching up with your thread, many thanks for keeping it up, it makes for really interesting reading. Out and about near home (Shetland) I saw a lone Gannet by the cliffs yesterday which I've not seen in the winter before.
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Old Tuesday 3rd January 2017, 06:43   #123
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Out and about near home (Shetland) I saw a lone Gannet by the cliffs yesterday which I've not seen in the winter before.
Over the last two years or so, I've seen a lot more Gannets about, right throughout the year. I think this may be due to an increase in Herring stocks. Many more dolphins around too, for the same reason I suspect.
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Old Wednesday 4th January 2017, 12:00   #124
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We have had some more stormy weather over the last few days, however, it doesn't seem to be affecting the birds too much. The only real change is that the Iceland Gull that was here, seems to have departed. That said, I have seen a bird, both last night and this morning, that I believe may have been another Icelander, but the light on both occasions was too poor for a definate ID, and I haven't been able to find it during daylight. It is definitely a white winged gull though.

We still have one Glaucous hanging about with the Herring/GBB Gull flock. Incredibly, the ducks (2 Scoter and 1 L-T) are still here also. I watched the Long-Tailed diving down on the platform legs this morning while 40 ft waves were crashing through. These sea ducks are incredibly tough.

Other birds present have been the Kittiwakes, a few Fulmars and a few passing Gannets. In addition, much to the delight of the gulls each time it catches a fish, the Grey Seal is still visiting us.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2017, 08:42   #125
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Keep a lookout for Albino Fulmars. I had one a few years ago now offshore, but there seems still to be the odd one going about going by the sighting reports.
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