Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii in Busan: August 1st-2nd 2012
Nial Moores (NM), August 3rd.
On August 1st, Jason Loghry and NM watched an adult Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii offshore from Igidae, Busan. Although it was too distant to take a photograph, the bird was easily identified on ‘scope views by its large size (estimated at the time as about 20-30% less bulky than Black-tailed Gulls Larus crassirostris), long yellowish bill, and plumage (familiar to NM from previous experience of the species in e.g. Australia, Indonesia and Japan). It was mostly dark grey on the upperparts, contrasting with a much paler area on the primaries; and also with black on the rear-crown and white extensively across the forehead. It was watched for five minutes as it stole fish from Black-tailed Gulls (successfully or otherwise!), before it flew southwards towards Oryuk Do (Nam-gu, Busan). A short taxi ride later it was briefly re-found by NM. On August 2nd, presumably the same bird was again seen (again briefly and at long range!) by NM – this time about 2km south from Oryuk Do, again with Black-tailed Gulls.
This appears to be only the second record of Greater Crested Tern in the Republic of Korea. The first record was of up to 30 off Jeju Island in July 2011 found by researchers from the Ministry of Environment (and reported in Jeju news media: see http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=1733). An earlier record (from July 1917) referred to in the Jeju article was from Austin’s 1948 “Birds of Korea.” Although included by Austin, he considered the record doubtful. Based on the account in Kuroda used by Austin, this record was also likely from present-day Hwanghaenam Province (DPR Korea) – and not from the ROK. Moreover, based on the location, it would also seem more likely to refer to the now Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern Thalasseus bernsteini, which formerly bred on islands off the Shandong Peninsula, China, only 250km to the west.