Bird’s-eye view: Aircraft gather bird data in offshore Scottish wind farms

Joint aerial surveys by ScotWind developers, using multiple aircraft, gather bird data in North Sea offshore wind farm zones, documenting over 75,000 bird behaviours

A collaborative initiative among ScotWind developers has yielded invaluable data on over 75,000 birds.

Conducted by four aircraft flying simultaneously each month, this ambitious project has amassed a staggering 690 hours of flight time, capturing high-definition images across an expansive 11,550 km² area in the North Sea.

The comprehensive data collection was commissioned by renewables organisations that secured rights from Crown Estate Scotland to develop offshore windfarms.

Notably, Fred, Olsen Seawind, Vattenfall, Scottish Power Renewables, Shell, SSE Renewables, CIP, Marubeni, Bluefloat, Renantis, bp and EnBW joined forces to gather critical ornithological data.

To expedite the survey, the partnership ensured that data collection spanned two full seabird breeding seasons.

Over 15 months, the aircraft conducted monthly flights, covering the vast area extensively.

Each participating aircraft was equipped with high-definition camera equipment to capture live footage, subsequently analysed by ornithology and marine experts.

To date, the team has scrutinised nearly 35 million images, documenting the habits of over 75,000 birds and more than 700 non-avian animals.

Michelle Quinn, Director, Offshore Wind Directorate said: “The outputs from this study have helped our understanding of bird activity off the east coast of Scotland for our ongoing planning work and will continue to inform our future planning and consenting processes.”

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