11/12 Feb 2012: Two day birding trip in northern ROK

Bird News from Mike Knox and Nial Moores

 

Cheorwon-NE River, February 12th

Another day of glorious, windless sunshine, and some great birds. Overnight temperatures fell to -12C (rather milder than forecast), and the maximum briefly reached zero or even +1C. At Cheorwon, a fantastic FIVE species of crane were seen within 30 minutes. In addition to the regular Red-crowned and White-naped Cranes we found three Sandhill Crane, one adult Common and a single Hooded Crane (but learned there have probably been no recent sightings of the Siberian White there). Passerines were noticeably scarce, with no thrushes and no Rosefinches, but still included three Siberian Accentor, c. 150 Rustic Bunting and a singing Meadow Bunting.
The hordes of ice-fishers on the Tokyo reservoir (900 according to national news coverage) meant that few Cinereous Vulture were present there, and only 100-130 were seen during the morning. The only other raptor of note was a Merlin.
En route to the Northeast River, two Common Snipe were a personal first of the year for NM, while at the river itself, thawing hiking trails increased disturbance pressure on the Scaly-sided Merganser, with “only” ten or so seen (and several taking flight as hikers approached). Other birds of note there included three male Smew and a couple of gleaming male Falcated Duck.

 

Namhansan Seong-Han River-National Arboretum, February 11th

In beautiful weather (bright sunshine, great visibility and no wind!) at Namhansan, a cold (-9c) dawn started with a Hazel Grouse dozing in a tree by the road, and was followed soon after by the usual close encounters with Varied Tit and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. As earlier in the winter, there were no thrushes and the only finch was a single Brambling.
Then on to the Han River, highlight was three Steller’s Sea Eagle (two adults and a 2nd or 3rd Calendar-year) with several White-tailed Eagle out on the ice.
A few hours at the arboretum (much modified by various extravagant buildings, paved walkways and stone statues – like so many public spaces) was much less birdy than in a usual winter, but still included single Solitary Snipe and White-backed Woodpecker, and a couple of Brown Dipper (including one in song: an early harbinger of spring?).

 


Hazel Grouse, Namhansan, 11 Feb

Siberian Accentor, Cherwon, 12 Feb

 

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