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North Sea Thread (1 Viewer)

Corvus cornix

Well-known member
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
 

HelenM1965

Active member
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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Gander

Well-known member
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.
 

Gander

Well-known member
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.
 

alcedo.atthis

Well-known member
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.
 

Gander

Well-known member
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.

I'll certainly do that. We had a big flock of Fulmars for quite a while last spring, so I'm hoping they will return this year. Will definately be on the lookout for a white one.
 

Gander

Well-known member
Icelander Return

Weathers a bit calmer now, but there are fewer birds about. Even the Herring/GBB Gull flock is down to less than a hunderd. I'd seen neither Glaucous or Iceland gulls for a couple of days, and assumed they had moved on. I was wrong. Out on the water this morning sat an Iceland Gull (see photos).

Still in close attendance are the two Scoters, but the Long-Tailed Duck seems to have moved on. Kittiwakes also still present.

Also this morning, I received a report of two birds landing on one of our decks. By the time I got there, they were gone, but from the initial reports, they sound like Curlew. What Curlew are doing out here in early January, I have no idea. I'll be sitting down with the person who reported the birds later, just to go through some pictures and confirm the ID as best as possible. The person involved is a non birder and the initial description was of a duck with a long curved beak. Not the worst description I've heard given out here. A few years ago, we had a worker who on one occasion rushed into the tea shack all excited because he'd spotted a penguin below the platform. Needless to say, the arrival of a penguin would have come as a big surprise to the Guillemot that was down there.
 

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Hugh Addlesee

Well-known member
Weathers a bit calmer now, but there are fewer birds about. Even the Herring/GBB Gull flock is down to less than a hunderd. I'd seen neither Glaucous or Iceland gulls for a couple of days, and assumed they had moved on. I was wrong. Out on the water this morning sat an Iceland Gull (see photos).

Are you sure? Having been wrong last time, I'm still going to say that would be a big, stocky-looking Iceland. I'm surprised at how relatively tricky they are from above though - it's much easier to judge them structurally side-on or perhaps it's just photos compared to real-life. Your Iceland did have nice slender wingtips compared to the Glaucs though, which I don't think this bird has either.
 

Gander

Well-known member
Are you sure?

I was not originally, and am even less so now. I went for Iceland based on three main reasons. The first was the size. This bird is at the most slightly bigger than the Herring Gull next to it. Each of the Glaucous I've seen recently have looked very much bigger, however, it could just be a smaller (maybe female)Glauc. The second reason I went Iceland was the expression of the face. To me it is identical to the Iceland pictured in #115. And lastly, the beak looks to me a lot smaller and lighter than that of the Glaucs that have been around, but it may just be the unusual photo angle that gives that effect.

I've attached a photo of the last Glauc that was here a few days ago. You can see the heavier beak in this one and the facial expression seems a lot more agressive, coupled with a much more beefy body look.

All that said, I do still have lingering doubts myself, so I'll put the photos up on the Bird ID Q&A page to get a wider concensus, and I'll send the photos in to the NSBC recorder for his view.

Thanks for the feedback. It is important to me to make absolutely sure these IDs are accurate, so the comments from all are very helpful.:t:
 

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Gander

Well-known member
7th Jan

Weather is very peaceful today. Just a nice breeze over gently grey waves. Even had some weak wintery sunshine earlier. The Herring Gull flock was counted as 162 this morning. GBB numbers are up though - 32. A lot of the GBBGs are sitting on the higher platform structure, namely the flare boom. This is something only the odd Herring Gull will do, but GBBs are a lot bolder.

The two Common Scoter are still here. They paddle in under the platform every now and again and do a bit of diving down onto the legs and submerged structure. Yesterday, they were disturbed by a Grey Seal doing the same thing. They paddled off in a hurry.

Lunch time today, I noticed that the Grey Seal is back under the platform. Scanning the gull flock that is sitting out a bit further than usual, I found a single white wing gull in their midst, but too far off for a 100% ID. Going by size and general impression alone, I'll report it as an Iceland Gull, but mark it as an "Uncertain".

Kittiwakes are still around and I had a close encounter with a Gannet. It flew directly at me, passing only a few feet below the grating deck I was standing on. It then proceeded to dive into the water right along side the platform. I couldn't see any sign of a catch when it emerged, and it then quickly took to the air and flew off.
 

Gander

Well-known member
Kittiwakes and tale of a Curlew

Twenty Kittiwakes counted this afternoon. I think that is now the platform's Kittiwake record. A single Fulmar around this morning. Decreased numbers of Herring and GBB gulls, and no white winged gulls today.

And of course, two Common Scoters.

I managed to get the full story of the Curlew that was spotted a few days ago. It seems that one of the Common Scoters was observed landing on an area of deck. As the person who spotted it was trying to locate its exact landing point, someone else shouted to him, and as the original spotter turned around, a Curlew flew across the deck only a few feet away from him.

Although not a birder, the spotter is an active angler from Thurso, so he is well used to seeing Curlew. The only other option I suppose would be an extremely unlikely Whimbrel, but the description given to me, while referencing photos, gives me every confidence it was a Curlew.

That puts the platform species tally for 2017 up to ten. Certainly an excellent start. Hopefully we'll get a decent Spring migration this year. Last years Spring was dismal due to continuous unseasonal strong winds from the East.
 
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Gander

Well-known member
Another Glauc maybe, possibly, I don't know!

A late morning count gave me 176 Herring Gulls, 22 GBBGs, 3 Kittiwakes, 2 Common Scoter and a fresh white winged gull. I'm going for Glaucous on this one despite it appearing quite small compared to the other recent Glaucous we have had. For me the beak gives a definite Glaucous ID. Bird was definitely a fresh visitor, as the heavy pale ginger patternation made it very distinctive.

Apologies for the even poorer than usual photo quality. It was very overcast and chucking it down.
 

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Hugh Addlesee

Well-known member
Having been wrong last time

Or maybe not! I just had a look back at your Q&A thread Gander, to see whether you added the second mystery white-winger to the same thread, and I see that consensus is still lacking on the first bird. Did you start a new thread for the second one? - if you can post a link, I'm interested in seeing what others have said. I shall stick to Iceland for #1 and Glaucous for #2, but without 100% confidence!
 

Hugh Addlesee

Well-known member
A late morning count gave me 176 Herring Gulls, 22 GBBGs, 3 Kittiwakes, 2 Common Scoter and a fresh white winged gull. I'm going for Glaucous on this one despite it appearing quite small compared to the other recent Glaucous we have had. For me the beak gives a definite Glaucous ID. Bird was definitely a fresh visitor, as the heavy pale ginger patternation made it very distinctive.

Apologies for the even poorer than usual photo quality. It was very overcast and chucking it down.

100% Glauc on that one!
 

Gander

Well-known member
I thought I might as well just find the other gull id thread:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=337562
Not many responses so far, but that could be because I'm the only one who thinks it's most likely a Glauc! I've never knowingly seen an Iceland that much bigger than adjacent HGs, but maybe others have.

Hi Hugh,
Sorry about the slow response, I've been away from the computer. I see you found the thread anyway. As you say, there is no real concensus. I've just taken another look at the photos, and am totally unsure myself. What I am going to do is send the photos in to the recorder at the North Sea Bird Club, and let him make the final call. I'll let all know on the decision.
 

Mark Lew1s

My real name is Mark Lewis
If this is the same guy who called an obvious icterine warbler a chiffchaff, perhaps that's not the best course of action?

I'd wait for someone like 'Lou Saloman' or even better 'Smiths' to respond to the thread. 'Smiths' especially is a global authority on gull ID.

FWIW, I'd go for glaucous - bill colour, head shape, size of eye relative to rest of head, and apparent size of the bird all support this. It's not an easy one though. That said, there is nothing wrong with records of 'White-winged gull spp' going in to the NSBC database. Better that than the wrong species.
 

Gander

Well-known member
Return of the mystery bird?

I am not 100% sure, but I think the bird in the attached photos may be the mystery bird from post #127. It was photographed in very different light conditions, but it has much the same facial expression and the beak appears a little dainty for a Glauc, but when you see the size comparison shot, it can't be anything but a Glauc, can it?
 

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