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North Sea Thread (1 Viewer)

Corvus cornix

Well-known member
It is surprising how big that beak looks when you are standing a few inches from it.

Don't tell anyone though. The gulls are not universally popular with certain factions of the work force. Gull rescuer would be a title that would bring a fair bit of flak from the previously splattered, I think. :t:

Speaking as someone who once worked on a seabird colony any has been one of the "previously splattered" (seemingly by the bucketful), I can sympathise with them, but well done. It would certainly be a challenge dislodging such a creature! :t:

Cheers
 

Gander

Well-known member
Twitter Link

I came across this Twitter account from one of the guys who is a regular contributor to the North Sea Bird Club. He is based a lot further south than I am, and gets some fantastic birds. Add to that the great photos he is taking, and I would say his Twitter account is well worth following.

https://twitter.com/mrkjduffy
 

Gander

Well-known member
Next to nothing.

Four days of westerlies and next to no birds. Only GBBG's, Herring Gulls, Fulmars and Gannets present. Two Great Skuas passed by a couple of days ago. Weather forecast is more westerlies. I'm gutted. :-C
 
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Gander

Well-known member
Persistent south westerly is killing any migration movement, but a couple of new arrivals have been spotted. Yesterday evening saw two Kittiwake mixing with the Herring Gulls sat off the platform. One of them (the one pictured) looked a bit dark headed and heavy billed compared to what I'm used to, but then generally, we get a lot more juveniles out here than adults, so maybe I've not seen enough adults.

New in this morning, following last months second in twenty five years, is my third ever offshore Cormorant. It is surprising how big a bird it is when you get close up.
 

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Gander

Well-known member
Gull with a difference

There have been reports from the nightshift of a few small birds flitting about, but no IDs made. This morning, before first light, I also saw two or three birds moving, but it was too dark for an ID, although they did have a Pipit feel to them.
Yesterday afternoon I found a GBBG with a difference (see photo). The difference was that it had a tag. I’ve traced the number to a Norwegian project and have forwarded the information to them. All of their birds are tagged in the south of Norway, so this bird has moved pretty much due west.
 

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Gander

Well-known member
In at 46

First Thrush of the season seen this morning by reliable spotter. Song Thrush enters year list at forty six.

The 2017 List Updated
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
10. Guillemot
11. Greylag Goose
12. Collared Dove
13. Goldcrest
14. Woodpigeon.
15. Peregrine
16. Sparrowhawk
17. Blackbird
18. Common Gull
19. Pied Wagtail
20. Yellowhammer*
21. Goldfinch
22. Siskin
23. Robin
24. Rock Pipit
25. Ruff (d)*
26. Golden Plover
27. Swallow
28. House Martin
29. Chiffchaff
30. Blackcap
31. Willow Warbler
32. Kestrel
33. Carrion Crow
34. Hooded Crow
35. Balearic Shearwater
36. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
37. Shag
38. Razorbill
39. Black-Headed Gull
40. Great Skua
41. Arctic Skua
42. Meadow Pipit
43. Grey Heron
44. Common Eider
45. Cormorant
46. Song Thrush*
 

Gander

Well-known member
Redwings

A frustrating start to the day, with several birds seen flying by in the dark (just lit by the platform lights), but impossible to identify. Two of these birds, flying together, looked particularly interesting. Short, sharp rapid wing beats gave me a wader feel. Certainly nothing we usually get.
After sunrise however, I did get a little success when four Redwing landed close to me. Our first of the year.
Also, a couple more Great Skua added to our year total.
Wind has dropped right off at the moment, however, we are battening down the hatches in preparation for the big storm that is forecast.
 

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Gander

Well-known member
Wheatear

A slightly bedraggled looking Wheatear found at midday. In at 49 on the year list.

Quite pleased with this one, as I only saw my first offshore Wheatear last year, so it was by no means a dead cert for this years list.

Edit - Just noticed I forgot to put the Grey Phalarope on the list last month. What an omission! With today's Redwing and Wheatear, that takes the list to forty nine. Please let 50 be a mega.

The 2017 List Updated
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
10. Guillemot
11. Greylag Goose
12. Collared Dove
13. Goldcrest
14. Woodpigeon.
15. Peregrine
16. Sparrowhawk
17. Blackbird
18. Common Gull
19. Pied Wagtail
20. Yellowhammer*
21. Goldfinch
22. Siskin
23. Robin
24. Rock Pipit
25. Ruff (d)*
26. Golden Plover
27. Swallow
28. House Martin
29. Chiffchaff
30. Blackcap
31. Willow Warbler
32. Kestrel
33. Carrion Crow
34. Hooded Crow
35. Balearic Shearwater
36. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
37. Shag
38. Razorbill
39. Black-Headed Gull
40. Great Skua
41. Arctic Skua
42. Meadow Pipit
43. Grey Heron
44. Common Eider
45. Cormorant
46. Grey Phalarope
47. Song Thrush*
48. Redwing
49. Wheatear
 

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Gander

Well-known member
Bird Rush

Overnight, we were invaded by birds. They literally came in their thousands. The vast majority were Redwings, but there were others mixed in. The previous few days were pretty quiet, but with the wind changing to a being out of the east, it seems to have triggered a bird rush across the North Sea. If you are anywhere near the UK east coast, things might get very interesting over the next few days.

Wednesday morning, I received a report from a nightshift worker. He told me he had seen a Blackbird with a white chest. I showed him some pictures of Ring Ouzel, and he seemed fairly happy that was the bird he saw, but he is a non birder and was not very convincing. I will send the sighting into the NSBC, but will mark it as “Uncertain” and I’m not comfortable adding it to the year list, so I’ll leave it off.

Also over the last few days, up until this morning, the only evidence of migrant movement has been a trickle of Goldcrest and a few more Redwing. This morning though, everything changed with the wind. Before I started my shift, I headed down to the Cellar Deck. This is the area that is suspended below the main structure of the platform. It consists of small deck areas interconnected by grating walkways, and is largely open sided. Birds can fly up into this area or fly in from the open sides. Once in this area, there is a maze of pipework, steel beams, cable trays, handrails and various other items , including lighting, that the birds can roost in or explore.
As I headed along the walkways there this morning, I was soon surrounded by Redwing. There were dozens of them, and although flighty, when I stood still they would land a few feet away from me, or whizz past my head. The dozens on the deck level however, were nothing compared to the thousands I could see flying around the platform. They were a multitude in every direction, as far as the eye could see in the light cast off by the platform.
Continuing to walk through the Cellar Deck area, I soon found another species. It was a Song Thrush – a personal platform year tick. Then soon after that I found an outright platform year tick, as a Brambling popped up. Brambling kept popping up after that. I reckon at least thirty, but probably many more unseen.

Heading back through the deck, I got a glimpse of something larger. I followed it into the area I’d seen it dive into, and there I found myself face to face with a very good looking male Sparrowhawk. Moving away from that area, I was on my way to start my shift, when I spotted something that although common back home, it was an offshore first for me. A Great Tit was mixing with some of the Brambling
Later in the morning, just after first light, the Redwing and Brambling had moved off, leaving only a few stragglers, but it was then that I started spotting Starling coming in. I had found a deceased Starling a couple of days ago; a bird that had become the platforms fiftieth species for the year, so I’m glad to get a few live versions.

Only fairly regular bird missing off the year list now is the Fieldfare. Hopefully that will be put right this week.

The 2017 List Updated
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
10. Guillemot
11. Greylag Goose
12. Collared Dove
13. Goldcrest
14. Woodpigeon.
15. Peregrine
16. Sparrowhawk
17. Blackbird
18. Common Gull
19. Pied Wagtail
20. Yellowhammer*
21. Goldfinch
22. Siskin
23. Robin
24. Rock Pipit
25. Ruff (d)*
26. Golden Plover
27. Swallow
28. House Martin
29. Chiffchaff
30. Blackcap
31. Willow Warbler
32. Kestrel
33. Carrion Crow
34. Hooded Crow
35. Balearic Shearwater
36. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
37. Shag
38. Razorbill
39. Black-Headed Gull
40. Great Skua
41. Arctic Skua
42. Meadow Pipit
43. Grey Heron
44. Common Eider
45. Cormorant
46. Grey Phalarope
47. Song Thrush
48. Redwing
49. Wheatear
50. Starling
51. Brambling
52. Great Tit
 
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Hugh Addlesee

Well-known member
Superb stuff! I just had a quick look at Great Tit in The Birds of Scotland. I'd forgotten that Continental birds are reasonably regular on the Northern Isles (and probably on mainland Scotland too). It states that there were 7 records of Great Tits from N Sea installations in 1979-2004, so a very good one to get on your list!
 

Gander

Well-known member
Superb stuff! I just had a quick look at Great Tit in The Birds of Scotland. I'd forgotten that Continental birds are reasonably regular on the Northern Isles (and probably on mainland Scotland too). It states that there were 7 records of Great Tits from N Sea installations in 1979-2004, so a very good one to get on your list!

I've checked with the NSBC, and they have 38 records of Great Tit in the last 40 years, although some of those records will be of the same bird, seen at different times if they loiter. With less than one spotted per year on average, it is a good one for us to get.

Congratulations on reaching 50 species for the year! I really enjoy reading your posts.

Thanks. Not only fifty species for the year the day before yesterday, but also fifty live species for the year (only Ruff has been a dead record only) and fifty personal year ticks for me also. :t:
 
Very enjoyable thread. Speaking as someone with zero knowledge of oil rigs, is there a possibility of a camera trap being used in an area where you often see birds? And is limited feeding allowed? I thought it might be interesting to pick up on the birds that you maybe miss during the night or early morning, or which take flight quickly when you approach.
 

Gander

Well-known member
Very enjoyable thread. Speaking as someone with zero knowledge of oil rigs, is there a possibility of a camera trap being used in an area where you often see birds? And is limited feeding allowed? I thought it might be interesting to pick up on the birds that you maybe miss during the night or early morning, or which take flight quickly when you approach.

Hi Angusmcoatup,
The offshore observers are advised by the NSBC not to feed the birds at all. This is due to the birds possibly stayng on the platform too long if they think there is a source of food.

Camera traps would be extremely difficult. Use of electronic equipment is closely controlled by a work permit system. When using a camera, the user always carries a gas detector. For a camera to be left alone as a camera trap, it would have to be ex rated, which would make it a very expensive bit of kit, if such a thing exists. Also, although there are favoured areas, they tend to be large and complicated, so I wouldn't know where to set one up to be honest. I have considered mist netting and ringing before, though I am aware I would need to be trained and licenced. I have kind of discounted that as an option at the moment, as the shock created to a bird of being netted and handled in the middle of a life and death, arduous journey, seems to be more than a little unfair to the bird.
 

Gander

Well-known member
Another Platform First

Yesterday saw a steady trickle of Starling, Robin and Brambling coming through out of the fog that enveloped us. Mid morning, I also got a couple of glimpses of a white winged gull swooping past, but it was not until heading up the stairs at midday that I got a really good look at a bruiser of a Glaucous Gull. Our first WWG of the winter.

Last bird I saw yesterday when heading up the stairs at the end of my shift was a hawk. It was soaring around through the fog, so I didn't get a definite ID, but I believe it was a Sparrowhawk. This morning, I found a Sparrowhawk on the Cellar Deck, and also received a report of its presense from another person. Highlight of the morning however, has been the sighting of a Grey Wagtail. Another offshore first for me, and a bird that is marked as "Uncommon" in the NSBC reports.

The 2017 List Updated
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
10. Guillemot
11. Greylag Goose
12. Collared Dove
13. Goldcrest
14. Woodpigeon.
15. Peregrine
16. Sparrowhawk
17. Blackbird
18. Common Gull
19. Pied Wagtail
20. Yellowhammer*
21. Goldfinch
22. Siskin
23. Robin
24. Rock Pipit
25. Ruff (d)*
26. Golden Plover
27. Swallow
28. House Martin
29. Chiffchaff
30. Blackcap
31. Willow Warbler
32. Kestrel
33. Carrion Crow
34. Hooded Crow
35. Balearic Shearwater
36. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
37. Shag
38. Razorbill
39. Black-Headed Gull
40. Great Skua
41. Arctic Skua
42. Meadow Pipit
43. Grey Heron
44. Common Eider
45. Cormorant
46. Grey Phalarope
47. Song Thrush
48. Redwing
49. Wheatear
50. Starling
51. Brambling
52. Great Tit
53. Grey Wagtail
 

Gander

Well-known member
Strange days

It has been a strange few days since thursday. Usually when we get a big influx of Redwing in the autumn, it heralds a week or so of flocks passing through. That has not happened this year. It is almost as if they all, apart from a few stragglers, went through at once, even though we have continued to have consistent easterlies.

Another strange thing is that we have had no Fieldfare. If you were to ask me to make a list of five migrants that I would say I'm sure to see each year; Fieldfare would be on that list. Still there is time yet, although the wind has started to change again.

The Sparrowhawk continued to pop up around the platform, and has made at least two kills. I've found the bloodied patches of plucked feathers where he devoured his meals. Both I think were Brambling. No sign of the hawk today, so I believe it has moved on.

A few small birds on the wing spotted today. My biggest frustration in birding has been my inability this far to learn how to identify birds on the wing. Out here it is particularly difficult, as they flash by, usually battling the wind so no discernable flight pattern can be seen. And of course bird calls can not be heard due to background noise, the need to wear ear defenders and of course the wind again.
 

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