Bird News from Bradlee Sulentic
The afternoon started when I picked up Mr. Richard Edden at the Songtan Bus Terminal, after which we set out for Seosan Lake A, making a couple stops along the way. The most interesting of our stops was to check out a flock of Rooks in a field near Godeok. Scanning the flock, we were able to pick out at least 12, but likely more, Daurian Jackdaws mixed in with the others. We reached Lake A around 1:30pm to find the lake under ice out to about 15 meters from the shoreline. We got out of the car to find ourselves surrounded by a flock of around 40 Far Eastern Skylarks.
After finding only small numbers of Mallard, Eastern Spot-billed Duck, Common Goldeneye, and Common Merganser, and Greater White-fronted Goose in the fields, we decided to move towards the northern part of the lake with only a couple stops to scan the lake and fields. One of these stops found 6 Hooded Cranes mixed in with a flock of Greater White-fronted and Bean Goose. Mr. Edden got some great looks and, hopefully, a couple decent pictures of the beautiful cranes. Near the “land bridge” across the lake, we had the great pleasure of watching 2 Merlin chasing several Far Eastern Skylarks. In this same area we had decent looks at 2 Smew (one male and one female)near the first bridge out into the lake. Upon reaching the northern end of the lake, near where the creek empties into it, we were disappointed to find the lake completely iced over (except for one small open area with a concentration of several hundred waterfowl).
Being that the lake was iced over, we moved on to the open water of the creek and our luck improved some. On the creek we found 36 gorgeous Whooper Swans, along with 24 Ruddy Shelducks huddled together on a sandbar. Near the first bridge crossing the creek, Mr. Edden excitedly pointed out a sparkling Common Kingfisher moving among the reeds along the creeks bank. This stop was where we spotted our only Common Kestrel of the day. It was also near here that the two of us had prolonged looks at a male Hen Harrier hunting the fields to the east of the creek. After crossing the bridge, we stopped to scan one more time before moving further upstream. This stop was quite fortuitous, because it was here that we discovered a sharp-looking Black-faced Bunting picking through the dead vegetation along the shoreline.
Our last stop for the day was about a kilometer upstream, where a smaller creek feeds into the larger one. It was here that a decent sized flock of “egrets” quickly turned into 21 Eurasian Spoonbills, most of them with their heads tucked into their wings. A couple other birds of note were a single Little Egret, as well as a single leucopsis White Wagtail.
Braving quite cold temperatures, along with slushy dirt tracks and a rather heavily iced-over lake, Mr. Edden and I turned in a pretty strong day of birding. Overall, we were able to locate and identify 49 different species, with nice looks at some pretty amazing birds. A big thanks to Mr. Edden for his company and some great birding.