Bird News from Nial Moores
Following news breaking on February 4th of Korea’s first Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus, a short trip to Ganseo Eco-Park on the southern bank of the Han River under overcast skies with light snow flurries. Decent views of this raptor (including brief views of the underwing) appear to support the identification that has already been made by other observers (helping to rule out the much less likely Australian Black-shouldered Kite and North American White-tailed Kite). Unfortunately, the bird’s flight was too rapid and the conditions much too murky to allow (me to take) digiscope images of the underwing.
Although this southern-distributed species has been recorded as far north as Hebei Province in China, the timing and location of this first national record (apparently from February 2nd) seems extraordinary in many ways. This bird was found next to a busy highway, close to the nation’s capital city, and in the depth of winter (albeit coincident with a milder spell of above-freezing temperatures). During approximately one-hour of broken observations on 5th, the Black-winged Kite was seen to catch and consume only one small rodent – nonetheless quite an achievement as much of the area was covered by 10cm or more of snow! Also present at the same site were single Eastern Buzzard and Eurasian Kestrel and several Long-tailed Rosefinch and Black-faced Bunting. Nearby, en route to the subway station as the snow started to fall a little more heavily (heralding the start of a week of much more severe cold), one or more Japanese White-eye (heard only) also seemed out-of-place. However, according to Dr. Shim Kyu-Sik this “southern species” has apparently been increasingly recorded in the north-west of the country in the past few years.