Bird news by Subhojit Chakladar
I set out for Seochong-do with lots of hope and a bit of trepidation. Having planned to spend the entire 3 hour journey on the deck looking out for seabirds, my hopes were quickly dashed as the boat authorities informed me that was not permitted due to safety reasons. Looking at the sea through a salt stained window wasn’t my idea of perfect autumn pelagic and I dozed off a result. Luckily, we were allowed to go out on the deck for about 15 minutes. Within minutes I spotted the first Pomarine Skua at a distance. I ran back to grab my camera. During the remaining time on the deck under pretty windy conditions, I encountered around 10 more of them and 2 separate flocks of Streaked Shearwaters with a conservative estimate of about 200+ birds in total. The stay in Seochong-do and the ferry journey produced a total of 55 species (based only on visual observation and photographic record)
Birding and especially photographing them in autumn is considerably more tricky than in spring. I learned it the hard way on the 1st day. The shifting clouds made it especially tricky to photograph the raptors. Highlights of the day include the migrating Oriental Honey-buzzards (~25), a probable Pallas’s Leaf Warbler in the lighthouse gully. North Point was strangely quite that afternoon except for 3 Black Faced Buntings and a single Olive Backed Pipit.
With clear blue skies and a moderate wind, it was a perfect day to be outdoors. Early in the morning walking towards the lighthouse, I encountered Chinese Grosbeak (~6), a single female Japanese Grosbeak and a Grey Faced Buzzard. The lighthouse gully was alive with activity. A male Blue and White Flycatcher, a flock of around 30 Eastern Great Tits, similar numbers of Varied Tits, more than 50 Yellow Browed Warblers. This also attracted a Hobby and a Chinese Sparrowhawk. At the lower part of the gully, I also encountered 2 Radde’s Warbler, a single Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and more Black Faced Buntings. At around 9am, more raptors appeared including a Black Kite and an Osprey. The highlight of the trip came later in the day in quick succession. At first a flock of atleast 12 Yellow Bellied Tits mixed with a similar sized flock of Eastern Great Tits and a few Coal Tits. Then a pair of Chinese Nuthatches. Later during the day, accompanied by another Korean birder, we found more Yellow Bellied Tits and 2 Chestnut Flanked White-eyes. Light Vented Bulbuls were encountered near the fish farm area.
Starting before sunrise at North Point, the highlight include a female Pine Bunting, about 6~7 Chinese Nuthatches, 3 Meadow Buntings. Later in the morning at the lighthouse gully, more movement of passerines was observed. There were a few Dusky Warblers, 2 Common Rosefinches, a female Mugimaki Flycatcher. 40+ Oriental Honey Buzzards and many more Red-rumped Swallows were also seen in the sky. The stream at the 2nd village produced a White’s Thrush.
The morning ferry back to Incheon was quite productive. The highlights include 3 Flesh-footed Shearwaters and 6 Pomarine Skuas (including 1 dark morph individual)