Bird News by Barry Heinrich
I was allowed to go home early yesterday, at 2.30pm.
Considering there was a break in what has been rather inclement weather, and with plenty of time, I decided to walk from home to Nam Cheon, down to the coast, then north to Buk Cheon and back home again from there. The walk took me a bit over 4 hours with several delays to see and photograph various wildlife.
At first my walk seemed a bit dull with just Tree Sparrows, Oriental Reed Warblers and a Siberian Stonechat along the first part of Nam Cheon. Adding an Oriental Turtle Dove and a couple of Striated Herons didn’t make things a lot brighter. Then I found 6 young Mandarin Ducks and 7 Eastern Spot-billed Ducks along the flooded creek. They all took cover in the long grass as soon as they saw me. The two Common Greenshanks were more cooperative and I took all the photos I wanted of them, both with my zoom lense and with my digiscope.
My next target was a Eurasian Hobby that obligingly sat on top of an electricity pole while I took as many photos of it as I wanted getting close enough for almost full frame shots using the digiscope. I was next to a thick patch of grass under the electricity cables taking Hobby photos when I notice a few young Tree Frogs. It was then that I regretted leaving my macro lense at home, but I still managed to get some acceptable images using my large zoom and my small zoom lenses. I counted about 30 of these froglets in about three square metres enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
Heading north didn’t show me a lot more birds, 5 Grey Herons, 2 Eastern Great Egrets and more Tree Sparrows. Along a small concrete drainage ditch I heard the distresses cries of a frog. The ditch was a bit overgrown with grass but I managed to find what I think was a Water Snake with a good sized Black-spotted Pond Frog in its mouth hanging into the ditch. I got one acceptable photo looking through the grass, but when I tried to clear the grass away for a better view, the snake dropped into the water in the bottom of the ditch. At Buk Cheon I saw about 120 Black-tailed Gulls, a few Vega Gulls, 7 Great Cormorants, 6 Grey Herons and 3 Spot-billed Ducks on the sandbar.
I didn’t see many more birds until I found a Black-capped Kingfisher at the hill where the Egrets and Herons nest each year. I had a little walk through the forest on the hill before heading back to Buk Cheon. The Kingfisher was sitting on a wire near near the creek and I was just about close enough to get photos with my digiscope equipment. I had it all set up and was just focusing on the bird when it flew away. Another couple of seconds would have been enough to get some photos.
I didn’t see a lot more until I got to the new highway. I found about 20 Grey-capped Greenfinches there. I think they were eating the insect larvae that roll the edge of leaves on Robinia pseudoacaia trees. At the Buk Cheon weir there was a Striated Heron and two Grey Wagtails. A little further along I saw about 30 more Grey-capped Greenfinches, this time feeding on seeds of Coreopsis lanceolata flowers growing on the side of the new highway.
From there I decided to head home along the ridge track to the northeast of Ganseong Eup. As I climbed up the embankment to the top of the ridge I found some Eastern Great Tits. I think they were feeding on the small black insect larvae that were eating the leaves of some regenerating shrubs. There were some Yellow-throated Buntings in the same area and I could hear a couple of Grey-backed Thrushes singing to the east in the forest. There were more Tree Sparrows at the top opf the ridge. As I walked along the ridge track I found two Tiger Shrikes. They both had food in their bills so they must have had young nearby. I also saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Brown-eared Bulbuls, Black-naped Orioles and Barn Swallows as I went along the ridge. It was getting close to 7 pm when I heard something moving in the low vegetation off the track. Carefully approaching a small partly cleared are I saw a family of 5 Racoon Dogs. I was lucky enough to get a couple of photos of two before they disappeared into cover.
In the last bit of foest at the edge of town I found a couple of Daurian Redstarts, more Tree Sparrows, a Dollarbird and a Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. In all I had quite a nice time on my free afternoon and I got some nice photos. I really get up to some mischief when they let me out early, don’t I?