Bird News from Nial Moores and Jason Loghry with Gary Bletsch
A mid-summer nine-day foray to several of the nation’s top birding sites in weather that ranged from torrential jangma rain to extremely hot and humid (reaching 37C, though reading 39C in the car in Changwon on the 22nd). In addition to an unexpected Large Hawk-cuckoo heard and the confirmation of breeding Chestnut-cheeked Starling, some of the highlights among 135 species seen and heard included:
- On 14th, adult male Van Schrenck’s Bittern and a half-dozen Long-toed Stint at Namyang/ Hwaseong (NM and JL only).
- On 15th, c. 500 Saunders’s Gull (including 100+ juveniles) and a total of 3,000 Far Eastern Curlew (including one leg-flagged bird), several hundred Eurasian Curlew and 280+ Far Eastern Oystercatcher at Song Do and Namyang Bay/Hwaseong combined, followed by excellent views of a Long-billed Plover in western Gangwon in the afternoon.
Single Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata with three Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis. Not only is the background coloration in this Eurasian much paler, but the streaking down the centre of the breast is also finer and does not reach the belly; the throat is paler; and there is a more obvious paler central crown stripe © Nial Moores
Flagged Far Eastern Curlew: “Z9” in black on a yellow flag on the right tibia © Nial Moores. According to a mail received on July 27th from Joris Driessen, Leg Flag Sighting Operator, Australasian Wader Studies Group, this bird was banded on February 22nd 2016 in Roebuck Bay, Australia, at approx. 18.00 S, 122.22 E. When banded, this bird was considered to be 3+ years of age. The banding location was 6,143km from where we resighted this bird.
First Calendar-year Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus © Nial Moores
First Calendar-year Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (on Eocheong on 18th) for comparison…© Nial Moores
- On 16th, in forest in Gangwon a juvenile and an adult male Siberian Blue Robin, Brown Dipper, Asian Brown and Blue-and-white Flycatchers, a family party of Japanese White-eye (towards the north of their range here) and what appeared to be an Amur Viper, in addition to views of Pale-legged, Eastern Crowned and Pallas’s Leaf Warblers. At dusk, one Ural Owl heard (the reason for not naming the location), two Wild Boar and two species of bat seen, along with several stunning Luna Moth.
Male “Chinese” Luna Moth Actias Artemis (ID to species made through internet search: any correction would be warmly appreciated) © Nial Moores
- On 17th, single Hazel Grouse and Asian Stubtail seen well at Namhansanseong, followed in the afternoon by good looks at a breeding-plumaged White-winged Tern and an Amur Leopard Cat at Seosan;
- On 18th, 15-20 Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, one Flesh-footed and four Short-tailed Shearwaters seen from the ferry to Eocheong Island, where one Styan’s Grasshopper Warbler heard and single Chinese Pond Heron, Black Woodpigeon and presumed Crested Murrelet seen (latter JL only) ;
- On 19th, more views of petrels (10-15) and larger numbers of shearwaters from the ferry back to Gunsan, where perhaps up to four unidentified whales (very pale grey and long with several metres showing above the surface; spouting noted; but no obvious fins observed) in addition to a couple of pods of Finless Porpoise seen, followed on the mainland by views of 2-3 Black Paradise Flycatcher including one on the nest (a remarkable find by JL);
- On 20th, 850+ shorebirds and several hundred Black-faced Spoonbill and Chinese Egret seen along the Baeksu coast and hinterland in the morning, where also several Yellow Bittern, 3+ Chinese Grosbeak and a single juvenile Sand Martin. In the afternoon, a pair of Chestnut-cheeked Starling were feeding a youngster hidden in a roadside pole at Suncheon (close to the site first discovered by Matt Poll in 2015), followed en route to Yeosu by flight views of Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Grey Nightjar at dusk and a displaying Greater Painted-snipe heard only.
Sand Martin Riparia riparia © Nial Moores
Female (top) and male (bottom) Chestnut-cheeked Starling Agropsar philippensis © Nial Moores
- On 21st, in the morning one or two Fairy Pitta heard in Yeosu where also 3+ Tiger Shrike and a single Light-vented Bulbul heard, with most surprising of all there a vocalizing Large Hawk-cuckoo, heard calling lazily about 20 times during the morning. This is presumably the first national over-summering record of this species in Korea, as what must have been the same individual was also heard at this same site by Subhojit Chakladar and Marco Della Seta on June 4th. In the evening in Goseong County (Gyeonsangnam) we enjoyed good views of what was apparently a pair of displaying Ruddy Kingfisher, followed by two Northern Boobook and after dark a “Northern” Scops Owl. We also heard, but could not see, several Oriental Scops Owl there too.
Northern Boobook Ninox japonica © Nial Moores
- On 22nd, the heat was at its worst but we still managed to see a single Pheasant-tailed Jacana in flight over Junam Reservoir (Arthur Blakemore kindly shared that locals told him that there were three seen on June 29th, and that he also saw one there on July 16th).