Fall Migration on Heuksan Island, Oct. 23 – 24

The morning view of Heuksan Island from Jilli © Leslie Hurteau

Bird news from Leslie Hurteau.

Interested to see what fall migration was like elsewhere in Korea this season, I took a weekend trip to Heuksan Island, a place well known for its migratory birds and even has its own research station for banding birds.

Rook Corvus frugilegus 떼까마귀 © Leslie Hurteau
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 힝둥새 © Leslie Hurteau

I arrived on the island Saturday afternoon and went straight for the fields and wetlands by Baenanggimi. Four Rooks were seen near the harbour enroute, as well as White Wagtails, Grey Herons, and plenty of gulls within the harbour (a mix of Black-tailed, Vega, and Mongolian, with likely others). The fields and wetland had plenty of Stejneger’s Stonechats (recently split to Amur Stonechats), and buntings (Pallas’s Reed, Rustic, and Black-faced). A Northern Goshawk was seen passing over the valley, and a Common Snipe was flushed while walking along some reeds. Up in a reservoir were a large number of Mandarin Ducks, as well as a pair of Little Grebes.

Pallas’s Reed Bunting Emberiza pallasi 북방검은머리쑥새 © Leslie Hurteau
Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus 말똥가리 © Leslie Hurteau

The next day began before dawn, starting with two Common Snipe and a Common Sandpiper along a stream bed. A leisurely stroll along a channel in Jilli found Oriental Reed Warbler, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Pale Thrush, plenty of Amur Stonechats, Black-faced Buntings, Olive-backed Pipits, and Oriental Turtle Doves. Further in by a reservoir was a juvenile Black-crowed Night Heron and Tristram’s Buntings.

Amur Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri 검은딱새 © Leslie Hurteau
Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila 꼬까참새 © Leslie Hurteau

Returning to the wetland in Baenanggimi afterwards, a nice selection of raptors were seen including Osprey, White-tailed Eagle, Northern Goshawks, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, and three Eastern Buzzards. Pallas’s Reed Bunting and Amur Stonechats were the predominate passerines in the area, but White Wagtails, Olive-backed Pipits, Daurian Redstarts, and one Yellow-browed Warbler were present as well. In another stream and farm area were a couple surprises, a female Chestnut Bunting and Siberian Rubythroat.

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla 흰꼬리수리 © Leslie Hurteau
Not just the birds, but the insects were appealing as well. Chinese Mantis Tenodera sinensis 왕사마귀 © Leslie Hurteau
Not quite winter yet, this Korean Skink (Scincella vandenburghi 도마뱀) was prowling about. © Leslie Hurteau

The afternoon was spent in the elevated cow fields in Ye-ri, where a large group of pipits were found, roughly equal parts Red-throated and Buff-bellied. A Eurasian Skylark was briefly heard and then seen, as well as Black Kite, and a Large-billed Crow by the harbour.

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus 붉은가슴밭종다리 © Leslie Hurteau
Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens japonicus 밭종다리 © Leslie Hurteau

The ferry trip on the way there and back unfortunately didn’t yield much other than a few Larus spp. gulls. With no outside access and windows caked over with salt from waves, seawatching wasn’t exactly easy. All in all, a pleasant weekend visit to Heuksan Island.

Heuksan Island from the grassy hills of Ye-ri © Leslie Hurteau

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