Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
More discoveries. NEW: Zeiss Victory SF 32

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

North Sea Thread

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 1 votes, 5.00 average.
Old Wednesday 20th July 2016, 17:34   #1
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
North Sea Thread

As someone who spends three weeks out of every six on a North Sea platform, I have to do a lot of my bird watching offshore. I thought it might be of interest to some if I posted the odd report.

So, this is a relatively quiet time of year. Still a few Fulmars about, but the big raft, up to 200+, of a few months ago are long gone. Gulls have started to appear in numbers again, Common, Black Headed, Lesser Black Backed, Great Black Backed and Herring. Oh and one juvenile Kittiwake.

And then there are the Gannets. I've never seen so many Gannets around in twenty five years. Certainly looks like they've had a population boost. The guys who live in Peterhead tell me that their trawler men friends are saying that fish stocks are definitely on the up. Certainly last year the large flock of Great Black Gulls that were here were dumping loads of fresh herring on the platform. They seemed to be only eating the heads and guts. A lot looked almost too gorged to fly.

Anyway, highlight of the week has to go to non avian visitors. Dolphins at dawn a few days ago followed by a Pilot whale diving under the platform in the afternoon.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 23rd July 2016, 10:42   #2
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Duck

Another quiet few days 117 miles North East of Aberdeen. The Pilot Whale was seen again , but not by me. Great Black Backed Gulls numbers rising. 30+ this morning. Highlight of the day however, has been a lone male Eider (eclipse plumage). It has spent all morning exploring around the seaweed covered platform legs. We don't get many sea ducks, so it is always good to see one turn up.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 19th August 2016, 06:42   #3
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Great Black Backed Gulls still present. About 140 yesterday. Still a few Fulmars and the odd Kittiwake. Unusual visitors yesterday were two Greylag.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 19th August 2016, 16:24   #4
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Coming your way.

The two Greylags (I'm assuming the same birds as yesterday) were around again this morning, but of most interest were our first of the season migratory warblers arriving this afternoon. Two or three Willow Warblers, a possible Chiffchaff and two birds of a warbler type that I am not familiar with - A little bigger and more elongated than a Willow Warbler. Uniform brown olive back. No bars or stripes. Noticable dark eyestripe. Bright yellow chest with no streaking.

Wind currently has a lot of East in it with a little South. I'm guessing these birds are from Norway and are now heading your way.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 19th August 2016, 18:09   #5
DMKSlater
Registered User
 
DMKSlater's Avatar

 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Scotland
Posts: 1,048
Blog Entries: 2
Really interesting posts, you can be our advance warning system :-)
DMKSlater is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2010 2011 2012 2013 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Friday 19th August 2016, 19:46   #6
Jos Stratford
Beast from the East
 
Jos Stratford's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Exile in Eastern Europe
Posts: 16,424
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gander View Post
... two birds of a warbler type that I am not familiar with - A little bigger and more elongated than a Willow Warbler. Uniform brown olive back. No bars or stripes. Noticable dark eyestripe. Bright yellow chest with no streaking...
Check Wood Warbler.

Will be interesting to watch this thread over the migration season, keep it up :)
__________________
For photographs and articles, Lithuania and beyond, click here for my website
Jos Stratford is online now  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2009 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 20th August 2016, 10:41   #7
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jos Stratford View Post
Check Wood Warbler.
A definate possibility, but I felt there was less marking in the wings than a Wood Warbler. No migratories today, thus far. The geese and warblers are gone. Best sighting today was of a Great Skua trying to mug a Gannet. Don't see to many Skuas out here, so a welcome sighting.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 20th August 2016, 12:36   #8
mathare
Registered User

 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: SW London
Posts: 691
Are you allowed to reveal which platform you are on?
mathare is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 20th August 2016, 13:14   #9
JTweedie
Registered User
 
JTweedie's Avatar

 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Glasgow
Posts: 4,633
There's another BirdForum member who was on North Sea rigs too - I don't think he frequents the same parts of BirdForum as me, so unsure if he's still about.
JTweedie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 20th August 2016, 14:42   #10
Songkhran
Registered User
 
Songkhran's Avatar

 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Brighton, Sussex
Posts: 1,048
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gander View Post
The two Greylags (I'm assuming the same birds as yesterday) were around again this morning, but of most interest were our first of the season migratory warblers arriving this afternoon. Two or three Willow Warblers, a possible Chiffchaff and two birds of a warbler type that I am not familiar with - A little bigger and more elongated than a Willow Warbler. Uniform brown olive back. No bars or stripes. Noticable dark eyestripe. Bright yellow chest with no streaking.

Wind currently has a lot of East in it with a little South. I'm guessing these birds are from Norway and are now heading your way.
can't really on the eye stripe front but have you thought Icterine Warbler, did it raise a crest when alarmed?
__________________
Missed Norfolk like a hole in the head
Songkhran is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 21st August 2016, 10:46   #11
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by mathare View Post
Are you allowed to reveal which platform you are on?
I am on the Tartan Alpha. About 116 miles NE of Aberdeen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JTweedie View Post
There's another BirdForum member who was on North Sea rigs too - I don't think he frequents the same parts of BirdForum as me, so unsure if he's still about.
I tried to contact him, but he does not appear to be active at the moment. For an idea of of the sorts of birds we get offshore, it is worth a visit to the gallery section of the North Sea Bird Club website https://www.abdn.ac.uk/nsbc/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Songkhran View Post
can't really on the eye stripe front but have you thought Icterine Warbler, did it raise a crest when alarmed?
I was actually looking at the bird with the naked eye from a strange angle - down and across from another deck level for maybe 20 seconds before it departed. I don't think I'll ever be able to say for sure. The birds I spotted later and managed to get a monocular on were definately Willow Warblers, but none were as bright yellow as that first bird.
Icterine was one I did take several looks at in my guides, but I'm never going to know for sure on that one.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 22nd August 2016, 11:44   #12
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Sparrowhawk

I received a call this morning that there was a bird of interest perched at a location on the platform. Rushing to the area, I found a female Sparrowhawk busy devouring a small bird.

I don't know what the small bird was for sure, but I suspect it may have been another Willow Warbler that came in during the night. I collected some of the feathers that the hawk had plucked out, and they did appear to have a yellowish tinge to the ends.

Once the photos I took are up on the North Sea Bird Club site, I'll post a link.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 24th August 2016, 10:50   #13
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Photos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gander View Post

Once the photos I took are up on the North Sea Bird Club site, I'll post a link.
First 6 photos on pg 18 of https://www.abdn.ac.uk/nsbc/gallery/album2/page18
are mine, including the afore mentioned Sparrowhawk.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 24th August 2016, 11:10   #14
Bubo-R
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Scotland
Posts: 43
Great link there - very interesting to see what pops up on these rigs. Any Snowy Owl records?
Bubo-R is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 25th August 2016, 06:37   #15
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubo-R View Post
Any Snowy Owl records?
Not seen any reports of Snowy Owls.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 25th August 2016, 08:29   #16
Bubo-R
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Scotland
Posts: 43
Okay, ta.
Bubo-R is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 26th August 2016, 10:43   #17
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
They are on their way.

The last few days have been nothing, but gulls. I've counted up to 250+ Great Black Backs, and am averaging 160 to 180 per day.
Today however has been different. Migratory birds are starting to pass through in earnest. Frustratingly for me, I've not identified many. I get a quick sighting as a small bird flashes by, or they are too high up on the structure or two far out. The only one I got a monocular on was probably a Blackcap, but just that bit too far away to tell for certain. In addition to that bird, there have been at least 3 diferent other types. Four birds circled the platform for a while - possibly small waders I thought, but again too far out for an 8X monocular. I suspect the heavy GBBG presence is keeping some birds away and moving others on quickly.

Wind is from the East, so if I were on the East coast, I'd be checking out known holding spots for migratory birds over the next few days.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 26th August 2016, 19:44   #18
Mark Etheridge
Bird Shooter (With A Camera)
 
Mark Etheridge's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Aberdeen and Gran Alacant
Posts: 416
Quote:
Originally Posted by JTweedie View Post
There's another BirdForum member who was on North Sea rigs too - I don't think he frequents the same parts of BirdForum as me, so unsure if he's still about.
I think John may be referring to me - however I retired from the North Sea last year, and now do most of my birding in Spain!

I have been watching this thread with interest - Gander you are about to enter the best period for birdwatching on rigs from late August through to November. I remember we had raptors like Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and both Long and Short-eared Owls take up residence on the rig for three or four weeks, just living on exhausted migrants which had landed on deck. The most surprising bird I encountered offshore in 30 years still remains the Water Rail - I had 3 of them over the years.
__________________
Bird photos from the Costa Blanca and Elsewhere - my bird photo site.
Mark Etheridge is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 27th August 2016, 04:50   #19
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Etheridge View Post
I think John may be referring to me - however I retired from the North Sea last year, and now do most of my birding in Spain!

I have been watching this thread with interest - Gander you are about to enter the best period for birdwatching on rigs from late August through to November. I remember we had raptors like Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and both Long and Short-eared Owls take up residence on the rig for three or four weeks, just living on exhausted migrants which had landed on deck. The most surprising bird I encountered offshore in 30 years still remains the Water Rail - I had 3 of them over the years.
Hi John,
There was a poster called Offman that I tried to contact. He was based west of Shetland, but does not seem to be active at the moment. Yes, I'm looking forward to the next few months. The huge flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare are always a highlight. I've only ever had one Water Rail, but I had the pleasure of rescuing it from an enclosed module. Managed to creep up behind it and pluck it off its perch. Released it outside and it flew off strongly.

Yesterday's highlight (after my post) was my first ever offshore Grey Heron. Amazing what turns up out here. The Great Black-Backs took a dislike to the visitor however, with several of the 460 I counted mobbing it.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 27th August 2016, 06:18   #20
Paul Higson
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: orkney
Posts: 1,190
Enjoying the posts - living on Orkney am grateful for the Early Warning system that's in place
__________________
Cheers,

Paul Higson
Paul Higson is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 28th August 2016, 18:33   #21
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
How green is my Pipit?

Wind swung round this morning to become an East wind. More of a breeze than a wind at only eight knots, but it turned the migrants back on. By lunchtime I was spotting the odd small bird flitting across the decks. Only managed to get a good sight of one though, and that was a juvenile Pied Wagtail.

Later in the day, one of my colleagues brought me a plastic tub with a retrieved bird inside. He'd found it exhaused on a walkway. Peeping into the tub, I could see a very green olive bird, that at first I thought was some kind of warbler, but then I spotted the streaky white/cream chest and flanks. It has taken a while to convince myself, but apparently pipits can be that strikingly green.

Anyway, I took a few photos, then took the bird to a quiet (Gull free) area of the platform and released it. It fluttered off, but then settled on a scaffold where it stuck its head under its wing and I assume went off to sleep. I don't rate its chances, but bird falls on platforms due to migration exhaustion is a sad reality. I'm always tempted to try and intervene (keep the bird and feed it), but I've been advised that this is the wrong thing to do, so generally I just let nature take its course. You never know though, my Pipit may rest up and head off.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Sunday 28th August 2016, 19:32   #22
dwatsonbirder
Mostly off the radar
 
dwatsonbirder's Avatar

 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: UK
Posts: 2,820
Any pictures of the pipit? An olive green pipit could certainly be something very interesting!
__________________
Kind regards, Daniel

@axbridge_birder
dwatsonbirder is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 29th August 2016, 07:34   #23
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Quote:
Originally Posted by dwatsonbirder View Post
Any pictures of the pipit? An olive green pipit could certainly be something very interesting!
Yes, I've got photos. I can't attach them on here from work, but I've sent them into the North Sea Bird Club, so they should appear on their website after Wednesday. I'll post a link here when they appear.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 29th August 2016, 07:35   #24
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
I've checked the area where I left the Pipit to recover and it has departed. Hopefully a happy ending.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 31st August 2016, 11:07   #25
Gander
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Fife or middle of North Sea
Posts: 1,589
Ortolan Bunting lands on Buzzard.

The Buzzard in this case is the Nexon Buzzard platform 60 miles NE of Aberdeen. See first picture on pg 19 of NSDC web site

https://www.abdn.ac.uk/nsbc/gallery/album2/page19

Weather forecast is for winds from the East on Sunday, so hopefully, I'll get a few buntings coming past my way.
Gander is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Lizard, North-Croatia and North-Italy Warixenjalka Reptiles and Amphibians 2 Saturday 16th July 2016 16:29
Mystery Birds in Thread Thread VELORAPTOR Bird Identification Q&A 2 Friday 13th April 2012 15:29
Warbler? North East North Carolina Photowell Bird Identification Q&A 4 Sunday 7th March 2010 18:18
Raptor on north coast of Cuba, north of Santa Maria geogal Bird Identification Q&A 2 Thursday 6th November 2008 16:39



Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.21588802 seconds with 38 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 19:48.