Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Summer is very quiet, birdwise, in Korea. Personally I view it as an enjoyable challenge to find stuff, but this also involves surviving the sweltering heat and humidity. My watch of “airport island” began with a walk around Yongyudo on July 29th. By attempting digiscoping rather than using my 400mm lens I missed several cracking photo chances unfortunately. I will be prepared next time! On July 31st, I took a look at the Western reservoir and adjacent natural wetland (which is only a small remnant of what was formerly). At Mt. Begeun on August 1st photography was tricky in the dark shady forest. Some pretty lepidoptera there, including an Indian Owlet Moth, and an ancient Keyaki tree. Birds are still to be heard singing, although mostly only briefly and at dusk. On August 3rd I checked out the S.E. shorebird roost and coastal road, viewing the southern mudflat area. Sadly the actual roost site- where birds are at their most vulnerable- is subject to increasing disturbance by recreational fishermen. Lastly I took a short walk along the Seonyebawi coastal road on the 4th. I recorded the following species:
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus.
Falcated Duck Anas falcata. Three in eclipse plumage. This is apparently the first July record for Korea.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos. Very scarce in summer. One on the wetland near the western reservoir on the 31st.
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha.
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula. Five on the reservoir on the 31st. There is perhaps only one previous July record.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis. Fourteen on the reservoir included juveniles.
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor. One at Yongyudo mudflat, three on the saltpans, 74 at the SE roost, 5 at Seonyebawi.
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax. Two at Yongyu pond.
Striated Heron Butorides striata. Quite common all over the island. Juveniles have emerged.
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea jouyi.
Great Egret Ardea alba modesta.
Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia. Six on the mudflat at Yongyudo, with distinctive “tilting forward” hunting technique.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta.
Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes. Two at Yongyudo, ten or more along the south coastal mudflat.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo. Up to 30 on the reservoir, including several juveniles.
Temminck’s Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus. One immature at the reservoir, identified by very extensive bright white underparts, including on neck and face.
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis. A male at Begeunsan.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus. A pair with two chicks practising flying near the western reservoir.
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo. One made an optimistic pass at a flock of swallows.
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra. A pair with three chicks on the wetland near the reservoir.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola. 60+ on the southern mudflat, including one leg-flagged (Yellow, right tibia).
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius. An adult and a juvenile on the saltpan.
Mongolian Plover Charadrius mongolus. 15-20 on the southern mudflat.
Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala. One seen well at Yongyudo on the 29th is apparently the first July record of any gallinago Snipe in Korea.
Flushed silently at close quarters from a ricefield verge, it appeared distinctly larger than common and showed a finely vermiculated greyish underwing. After a somewhat fluttery, low escape flight of perhaps eight or nine yards, it dropped into thick grass, when the momentarily splayed tail showed no “pins” but a chestnut centre with whitish edges.
Seconds later it darted out onto the road to stare at me for a few seconds- before disappearing once more – when somewhat bulky build and uniformly-patterned coverts gave an almost woodcock-like impression; underparts were distinctly dull, with dark breast and heavily marked chest-sides and flanks.
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica. Up to 300 on the southern mudflat.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus. 100+ on the southern mudflat, 29 at Seonyebawi.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata. C. 30 on the southern mudflat.
Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis. 500+ on the southern mudflat.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus. One at the saltpans, one on the south coastal mudflat.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia. 1000+ at the SE roost area, 40 on the saltpan.
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola. One standing sentry, while a nervous flock of six fed at the saltpans.
Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes. Two at the saltpans, 3 in the SE roost area, and a flock of 32 at Seonyebawi.
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus. 1200+ on the southern mudflat area.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. Three at the saltpans.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres. Two on the southern mudflat.
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris. One at the SE roost.
Red Knot Calidris canutus. Five on the southern mudflat.
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis. One at the saltpans, 35 on the southern mudflat.
Dunlin Calidris alpina. 40 on the southern mudflat.
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus. Very scarce in summer. One at the reservoir on the 31st.
Saunders’s Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi. Ten adults and 7 juveniles at the SE roost.
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris. 3000+ at the SE roost, 1000 at Yongyu bay.
Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus. One at the SE roost area. Panting to keep cool in the midday sun.
Little Tern Sternula albifrons. 25 or so diving, viewed from the south coast road.
Rufous Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis.
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis. Pair apparently hunting the abundant newly-emerged dragonflies with high, roving flight.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis. Two at Yongyudo.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. One at Yongyudo, another at Begeunsan. There seems to be no other woodpecker species on the island.
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis.
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica.
Carrion Crow Corvus corone. A pair, usually in the lowland farm field area.
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos. Several around the mountaintop. This species seems to prefer wooded hillsides.
Varied Tit Poecile varius. A pair at Begeunsan.
Eastern Great Tit Parus m. minor.
Eurasian/ “Far Eastern” Skylark Alauda arvensis. One near the reservoir showing territorial behaviour.
Brown-eared Bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica gutturalis. Drinking flock of c. 15 at the saltpans, 2 at the reservoir.
Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis. Two at the reservoir, including one delightfully singing in the late evening.
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis brunniceps. One calling near the western reservoir.
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthera webbiana fulvicauda. Flock at Yongyudo.
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea. One heard in the evening at Begeunsan.
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum. One singing in the spinney at Yongyudo. Three to five mellow notes repeated at frequent intervals, e.g. “trrp-trrp-tee-who”.
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri. Eight or nine skulking in reeds and grass near the reservoir on July 31st are early migrants.
Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana intermedia. A male singing beautifully -and wing-snapping- in a glade near the spring.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus. Now in post-breeding flocks.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea. One singing near the western reservoir on the 31st. Sibilant watery trills floating over on the breeze.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis. A family at the reservoir and group ‘creche” of 9 along the south coastal road.
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides castaneiceps. A rather worn out male seen in song near the reservoir. “Chu-chu-whee,chup-chup”.
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans. Two males singing in late afternoon at Begeunsan and one at Yongyu.