Baekryeong Island, April 30 (0935) – May 1 (0934!)
Thanks to the kind support of several donors (Park Young-Ja, Chon Hyun-ae, Profs. David Cole and Betty Slade) and the promise of some Canadian support through Birds Korean Geoff Styles, I chose Baekryeong as the obvious location for this year’s solo-effort foot-it birdathon challenge. This is an island with a great diversity of habitats (forest, farmland, freshwater wetland, tidal-flat and beach, and rich inshore waters), sitting within a major migration corridor.
Starting at 0935 on April 30th (when there was a sudden surge in visible migration, including a personal first Common House Martin of the spring and several White-throated Needletails) and continuing on to 0934 on May 1st, I spent 18 hours in the field and walked about 29km – from the north-east of the island to the far southwest. In total, I heard or saw at least 142 species, almost all of them complete migrants. As I missed a few species that were on the island before starting, found several new spring arrivals within an hour of finishing (including Brown Shrike and Yellow Bunting), and left off a couple of probables (distant calling Asian Brown Flycatcher, Swinhoe’s Snipe and one unknown caller – perhaps an owl) it seems that 150 plus really is possible here in a day…as long as adequate habitat remains.
Notable moments during the Birdathon included flagging down a minibus carrying several local officials inspecting the proposed new road through the wetland (investing 15 worthwhile minutes trying to inform them of the high value of the site- exactly as two Purple Heron overflew us!); being followed for 15 minutes by a singing White’s Thrush at 4AM, close enough to hear the whoosh of its wings in the dark; hearing Little Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tattler, displaying Little Ringed Plovers and frantic Far Eastern Oystercatchers all before dawn-proper; and enjoying a large arrival of migrants in the far southwest, including the first and most timely Black-naped Oriole of the spring / summer at 0932 (species number 142).
A complete list with a few images will be posted later. For now, would just like to repeat my thanks to those who supported the Birds Korea birdathon this year – here and overseas – helping to cover publication costs for our report for the CBD COP. And of course, for those with their Birdathon still to do: Good Luck and Great Birding!