Bird News from Nial Moores and Sue Davis
Three days of end-of-spring birding in hazy but summer-like weather included a trip out to Eocheong Island (afternoon of the 29th and morning of 30th, with some excellent sea-birding from the ferry); some birding around west Gunsan (in part in a failed search for a Himlayan Griffon Vulture photographed there on 26th); and a couple of hours at Namyang Bay and Hwaseong Reclamation Lake on 31st. In total, 108 species were logged by NM, with 82 of these well seen by SD and another dozen or so heard.
With a great mix of lingering waterbirds, summer visitors and late spring migrants and a couple of outstanding national rarities, highlights included:
- Taiga Bean Goose Anser fabalis middendorffii One on the tidal-flat at Namyang.
- Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis. Fifteen were seen on the way to Eocheong on 29th, and an amazing 100 to 102 were counted on the way back on the 30th, with very good views of several birds.
- Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris. Four were seen on the way out to Eocheong on 29th and two close birds were seen on the way back on the 30th.
- Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus. Probably three pairs have young on a small lake at Hwaseong on 29th and we watched as a tiny “grebelet” (?) pushed its way out from under the dry haven of the parent’s arched wing feathers to jump into the water, before soon pestering to be allowed to climb back up again.
- Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus. The now famous individual remained somewhat distantly on the Hwaseong Reclamation Lake on 31st. Below are a wonderful image taken on 21st by Dr Shim Kyu-sik and a distant image taken a few days later that shows a few more species that this flamingo has been consorting with. This first record for Korea, found by Mr. Lim Bang-Hyun, comes after a remarkable series of records in China (for a Beijing perspective on some of these records, see here); and earlier records from Siberia that suggest vagrancy to this region is reasonable.
Greater Flamingo, Hwaseong Reclamation Lake, May 21 © Shim Kyu-Sik
Greater Flamingo and…which other species ? Hwaseong Reclamation Lake, May 26 © Nial Moores (answer at the bottom of the page!)
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor. Two of this globally Endangered species were seen in the Geum Estuary on 29th and probably thirty were at Namyang / Hwaseong on the 31st, including at least one marked bird (unfortunately the left leg was not seen and according to the Taiwanese database, red over white over red on the right leg is shared by several individuals).
Black-faced Spoonbill 저어새, “Kia Tidal-flat”, May 31 © Nial Moores
- Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes. Eight of this globally Vulnerable species were seen at Namyang/ Hwaseong on 31st.
- Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis. There were still 30 (mixed in with 40 Eurasian Curlew) of this globally Endangered species at Namyang / Hwaseong on 31st.
- Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris. There were still 25 of this globally Endangered species at Namyang/ Hwaseong on 31st.
- White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus. Two breeding-plumaged adults were at Okgu Reservoir on 29th.
- Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus. One full-tailed, pale-morph adult was seen from the ferry on 30th.
- Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo. One was watched at a respectful distance as it perched out on a cliff-face on 30th.
Eurasian Eagle-Owl 수리부엉이 © Nial Moores
- White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus. At least nine were seen on Eocheong on the 30th. They dropped out of a much higher flock of 100 or so dots, presumably all of the same species.
- Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis. One was heard on Eocheong on 30th (NM only).
- Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon. One was heard on Eocheong on 30th.
- Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata. Two were singing on Eocheong on 30th, a morning with two other species of singing locustella (Lanceolated and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers).
- Chestnut-cheeked Starling Agropsar philippensis. A male briefly shared the same tree with a singing Japanese Grosbeak and a House Sparrow (!) on Eocheong on 29th.
- House Sparrow Passer domesticus. A male was seen well on Eocheong on 29th and was heard in the same area on the 30th. Although unremarkable in most parts of the world there are perhaps only three or four previous Korean records (including one or two females on Gageo in October 2002; a male on Heuksan in May 2006; and a male Weiyeon in May 2010). Any help with identifying the likely taxon would be greatly appreciated!
House Sparrow 집참새, Eocheong, May 29 © Nial Moores
- Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria. Three on Eocheong and at least two still present there on 30th.
Chinese Grosbeak 밀화부리 © Nial Moores
- Japanese Grosbeak Eophona personata. One in song on Eocheong on 29th.
Japanese Grosbeak 큰부리밀화부리 © Nial Moores
(And the other species in the image with the Greater Flamingo on May 26? From left to right Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, a single male Garganey and a party of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers)