Bird Sightings

Gageo Do: May 2nd-8th, 2019. Trip Report by Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona

May 2nd – We reached the island at about midday and, after a brief meeting with Matt Poll who was leaving on the same boat, we got straight into the birds.  Skies were clear with a light northerly breeze and there were lots about.  We found the single Little Curlew and a Curlew Sandpiper with three Whimbrel and a couple of Black-tailed Godwits in the ‘flower-beds’ above the harbour.  Also, a Purple Heron on the ‘mossy slab’. 

Little Curlew Numenius minutus © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

We continued via the roadside scrub and gardens between the recycling plant and the school, then back to the seafront, along to the quarry and up the clifftop path and back down to the school.  This first seven or eight hours produced 72 species.  Most abundant were Black-faced Buntings: we considered at least 350 in the area we covered.  Other buntings included 20 Tristram’s, several Little, two Yellow, two Yellow-browed, and single Yellow-throated and Pallas’s Reed.  A Bluethroat showed nicely while other species included two Japanese Quail, a group of six Grey-faced Buzzards, Moorhen, Wryneck, Brown Shrike and four Common Rosefinches. We rounded off with a Grey Nightjar singing above the workers camp and a Kentish Plover on the slab as dusk fell.  A snipe flying along the seafront in the gloom was thought on call to be Swinhoe’s Snipe.

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim
Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

May 3rd Out at dawn, still clear with a light northerly, and a look around the harbour and gardens produced most of yesterday’s birds plus two Common Kingfishers chasing each other in the harbour.  From the school we continued up the hill, numbers of thrushes, minivets, pipits and other species coming in from the south-west.  Our route took us towards the south-east of the island and then north along the ridge before returning via the steep path back down to the village. Of the thrushes, Eyebrowed seemed by far the most numerous but small numbers of Grey-backed, a few Pale and a couple each of White’s and Dusky were also seen.  At one point a flock of 350+ was in the air seeming to be mostly Eyebrowed Thrushes

Spectrogram of Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus calls from grounded birds Gageo Do, May 3rd 2019 © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

Other species included Oriental Scops Owl, three Oriental Cuckoos, Dollarbird, Chestnut-cheeked and five White-shouldered Starlings, seven flycatcher species, 100+ Olive-backed Pipits, a few Japanese and 20+ Chinese Grosbeaks while buntings included 10 Yellow-browed, 35+ Tristram’s, Chestnut-eared, four Rustic, 15 Little and 250+ Black-faced.  The species total for the day was 89.

White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

May 4th   The dawn walk turned up a Long-toed Stint on the mossy slab and a Black-capped Kingfisher in the quarry where Chinese Penduline Tit was heard. 

Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

Up the hill we had the, or another, Black-capped Kingfisher and Chinese Sparrowhawk near the 2-Gu junction then followed the upper road towards the mountain top, taking a detour at the radio mast along the ridge footpath where a Richard’s Pipit catching and eating a sizeable lizard was interesting.  Highlights here were Black Woodpigeon and a starling flock by the radar mast junction which, as well as White-cheeked Starlings also held single White-shouldered, Red-billed and Chestnut-cheeked Starlings

Walking back, it was clear that an afternoon arrival of Dollarbirds had occurred with at least 20 present.  Back at 1-Gu three Chinese Penduline Tits were present.  A total of 84 species was recorded including 60+ Yellow-browed Warblers, 350+ Black-faced and 50+ Tristram’s Buntings

Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi with lizard sp © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim
Oriental Dollarbirds Eurystomus orientalis © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

May 5th – The skies remained clear although it was a little warmer, the wind briefly becoming variable east to southeast before backing north again.  A walk to 2-Gu and back took up most of the day and produced numbers of warblers including 50 Yellow-browed, 30 Eastern Crowned and 15+ Asian Stubtails with an apparent late influx of Brown Flycatchers: 60+ on the walk back.  Other flycatchers were few though, just single Dark-sided and Grey-streaked, Blue-and-white, Yellow-rumped and Mugimaki and five Narcissus.  Just five Dollarbirds today. A Purple Heron was at 2-Gu and several Black Woodpigeons were also seen and heard.  77 species for the day.

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

May 6th – Again northerly winds and clear skies and diversity continued to lessen although new arrivals continued to appear.  The early walk produced an Oriental Pratincole and two Wood Sandpipers on the quayside and a Black Drongo above the quarry.  Two Japanese Sparrowhawk were also new and there was an increase in hirundines with 50 Barn and 150 Red-rumped Swallows, five Asian House Martins and a single Sand Martin.  Also 30+ Pacific Swifts.  There was a general drop in numbers of most other migrants with just 15 Yellow-browed, five Dusky and two Eastern Crowned Warblers, two Pale and three Eyebrowed Thrushes, 25 Olive-backed Pipits and 80 Black-faced Buntings. The 61 species total was the lowest for a full day of the week but it was still very good birding!

Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

May 7th – Winds in the southwest but still clear skies and there was little obvious change in numbers of anything. Green Sandpiper was new for the week and an Amur Wagtail was also the first, all other Alba wagtails having been ocularis types. A Black Woodpigeon was singing near the Buddhist temple and a Black Drongo, perhaps yesterday’s bird, was near the recycling centre.  Another Sand Martin was feeding around the quayside.  We walked up to the Japanese bunker area above 1-Gu, finally finding singing Radde’s Warbler, and then down to the 2-Gu junction and spent the rest of the day along the road.  More Radde’s here so perhaps new in.  Other birds here included a smart Northern Hawk Cuckoo while Oriental Cuckoo was calling nearby.  A dozen White-eyes that moved quickly through included at least two Chestnut-flanked and may all have been.

Northern Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

May 8th– The winds remained in the southwest and there was 50% cloud cover this morning.  With just six hours before we were due to leave we worked the area around 1-Gu, the quarry area and hillside above.  It was generally rather quiet and gave a fair idea of how quiet it could be and how good a week we had had.  It’s hard to judge when you’ve not visited a place before.  However, a brief Taiga Flycatcher was the first live one of the week and five more Radde’s Warblers were appreciated.  Just 53 species today but we finished with 122 for the week and a keen desire to get back as soon as possible!

Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla © Martin Sutherland & Sona Kim

Daily species record. 

  2 3 4 5 6 7 8
               
Japanese Quail 2            
Striated Heron 1         1  
Black-crowned
Night Heron
3   3 1 2    
Chinese Pond
Heron
1 1 2 2   2 1
Eastern Cattle
Egret
1 1 2 4   2  
Grey Heron 5 5 5 5 5 3 3
Purple Heron 1     1      
Great White Egret 2 1          
Intermediate
Egret
5 5 6 8 10 6 4
Little Egret   2   1      
Temminck’s
Cormorant
  1   1 1    
Peregrine   1 2   1   1
Chinese
Sparrowhawk
    1 1     1
Japanese Lesser
Sparrowhawk
        2 1  
Eurasian
Sparrowhawk
    1 1 1    
Grey-faced
Buzzard
6 2 1 1      
Common
Moorhen
1            
Oriental
Pratincole
        1    
Kentish Plover 1            
Curlew Sandpiper 1 1 1 1      
Long-toed Stint     1 1 1 1  
Black-tailed
Godwit
1 3 2 2 1    
Common Snipe   1          
(Swinhoe’s Snipe) 1?            
Little Curlew 1 1          
Whimbrel 3 2 2 1      
Common
Greenshank
1 1 1        
Green Sandpiper           1  
Wood Sandpiper     1   2    
Common
Sandpiper
  2 1 1     2
Terek Sandpiper 2 1 1        
Grey-tailed Tattler   1         1
Black-tailed Gull p p p 50 70 150 p
Mongolian Gull 2 1   3 2 2  
Slaty-backed Gull 1 1          
Black
Woodpigeon
    2 6   7  
Oriental Turtle
Dove
  1 2 3      
Oriental Cuckoo   3 1 2   2  
Northern Hawk-
Cuckoo
          1  
Oriental Scops
Owl
  1   1   1  
Grey Nightjar 1            
White-throated
Needletail
  1          
Pacific Swift     15 2 30 10 5
Common
Kingfisher
  2          
Black-capped
Kingfisher
    1-2        
Oriental
Dollarbird
  1 20 5   2  
Eurasian ‘
Wryneck
1            
Ashy Minivet 2 30 20 20 20 25 10
Bull-headed
Shrike
    2 2     2
Brown Shrike 1 1 1        
Black-naped
Oriole
  5 2 3 2 3 1
Black Drongo         1 1  
Large-billed Crow   1 1 1 1 1  
Long-tailed Tit       10   6  
Eastern Great Tit 1 6 5 10 2 6 1
Varied Tit   3 6 8   8  
Chinese
Penduline Tit
    3   1    
Sand Martin         1 1  
Barn Swallow 10 75 30 8 50 30 15
Red-rumped
Swallow
15 30 20   150 25 20
Asian House
Martin
1 2     5    
Light-vented
Bulbul
6 20 10 10 8 8 10
Brown-eared
Bulbul
25 35 35 40 30 40 25
Asian Stubtail 10 10 12 15 5 5 8
Japanese Bush
Warbler
p p p p p p p
Korean Bush
Warbler
p p p p p p p
Styan’s
Grasshopper
Warbler
  2          
Oriental Reed
Warbler
3 1   2     2
Dusky Warbler 5 15 15 15 5 10 8
Radde’s Warbler           2 5
Yellow-browed
Warbler
10 40 60 50 15 40 10
Pallas’s Leaf
Warbler
    3     1  
“Arctic Warbler” 6 5          
Eastern Crowned
Warbler
  10 10 30 2 12  
Pale-legged Leaf
Warbler
  15 12 10 1 15 1
Japanese
White-eye
12 10 20 30 6 20 10
Chestnut-flanked
White-eye
          2+  
Red-billed
Starling
    1        
Chestnut-cheeked
Starling
  1 1        
White-shouldered
Starling
  5 2        
White-cheeked
Starling
  7 7 10      
White’s Thrush   2          
Dusky Thrush   2   1      
Pale Thrush   3 10 5 2 2 3
Grey-backed
Thrush
  20 1        
Eye-browed
Thrush
1 300 50 10 3 2 1
Blue Rock Thrush 2 5 3 10 8 8 2
Siberian
Rubythroat
1 5 7 5 3 2 2
Siberian Blue
Robin
2 3 3 6   1 1
Bluethroat 1 1 1     1  
Red-flanked
Bluetail
1 2 3 2 2 2 3
Daurian Redstart 4 2   2 2 1  
Stejneger’s
Stonechat
15 20 20 20 8 5 2
Rufous-tailed
Robin
  2 2 1 1 3 3
Yellow-rumped
Flycatcher
2 5 1 1 2    
Narcissus
Flycatcher
2 10 6 5 1 3 3
Mugimaki
Flycatcher
  4 1 1   2  
Taiga Flycatcher     1       1
Blue-and-white
Flycatcher
4 8 1 1   3  
Dark-sided
Flycatcher
  1 1 2 1 1  
Grey-streaked
Flycatcher
  2   1 5 5 2
Asian Brown
Flycatcher
10 15 15 60 10 15 3
Eastern Yellow
Wagtail
6 3 2 6 12 10 5
White Wagtail 30 50 50 35 25 25 15
Grey Wagtail 8 10 10 15 8 6 4
Richard’s Pipit 5 1 4 5 3 2 1
Red-throated pipit 2 3 5 3 5 3 2
Olive-backed Pipit 40 100 75 50 25 20 15
Buff-bellied Pipit 3 1 1 1 2 2 1
Brambling 10 3 20 15 10 20 5
Common
Rosefinch
4 1         1
Japanese
Grosbeak
  10 20 10 4   4
Chinese Grosbeak   20 20 6 8 20 10
Yellow-throated
Bunting
1   1 1      
Rustic Bunting   4          
Tristram’s
Bunting
15 35 50 30 12 30 10
Yellow-browed
Bunting
2 10 2 3      
Little Bunting 12 15 10 10 5 3 2
Chestnut-eared
Bunting
  1     1    
Chestnut Bunting     1     1  
Black-faced
Bunting
300 250 350 250 80 100 70
Yellow Bunting 2            
Pallas’s Reed
Bunting
2 1   3      
               

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