North Sea Thread (1 Viewer)

Gander

Well-known member
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

Well-known member
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

Well-known member
Great Black Backed Gulls still present. About 140 yesterday. Still a few Fulmars and the odd Kittiwake. Unusual visitors yesterday were two Greylag.
 

Gander

Well-known member
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.
 

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
... 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 :)
 

Gander

Well-known member
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.
 

JTweedie

Well-known member
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.
 

Songkhran

Well-known member
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?
 

Gander

Well-known member
Are you allowed to reveal which platform you are on?

I am on the Tartan Alpha. About 116 miles NE of Aberdeen.

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/

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

Well-known member
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

Well-known member
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.
 

Mark Etheridge

Bird Shooter (With A Camera)
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.
 

Gander

Well-known member
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.
 

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