Bird News from Nial Moores, Jason Loghry and Choi Su-Yeon (aka Angela Choi)
A total of c. 96 species were recorded on Eocheong between 10:20 on the 2nd (when part of the Birdathon) and 11:00 on the 4th, a period with weather that changed from sunny to overcast with fog and rain (on the 3rd) back to largely sunny, with variably strong westerly winds on the 4th.
Species of greatest note on Eocheong included the confiding Oriental Pratincole on the 2nd and 3rd; a (2cy?) Japanese Night Heron (first found by JL, and seen by all three of us) on 3rd only; an apparent male owstoni Narcissus Flycatcher on 2nd and a female owstoni-type on 3rd (NM and JL); four singing Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on 2nd, falling to one on 3rd and zero on 4th; one Japanese Grosbeak on 3rd (NM only); and three Yellow-breasted Bunting on 3rd.
There appeared to be decent numbers of grounded migrants on the 2nd with a distinctly Japanese-feel (with e.g. 20 Blue-and-white Flycatcher, seven nominate Narcissus Flycatcher and ten Yellow Bunting); a slight increase in robin-types and Asian mainland breeders on the 3rd with five Siberian Blue and 15 Rufous-tailed Robins, three Yellow-rumped and two Mugimaki Flycatchers) and five Eye-browed Thrushes, but also one Grey and four Brown-headed Thrushes; and a hint of passage from the “Northern Crossing” on the 4th, with 30 Chestnut-flanked White-eye (JL and AC) and 15+ Black-naped Oriole (all males).
The ferry back to the mainland provided rather more interest than the journey out (when nothing of note was seen), with at least six Streaked Shearwater, three Common Tern, and a very bulky brown-backed falcon with a reduced face pattern (thus identified as a Saker Falcon – an oddly frequent species near the west coast in May in recent years) seen at close range in open sea by NM and AC.
The afternoon was spent somewhat hurriedly in the Geum Estuary, with a couple of hours on Yubu in strong westerly winds, where a very coarsely estimated 60,000 or so shorebirds were present at high tide (largest numbers appeared to be of Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit and Great Knot). Species of greatest note here included one leg-flagged adult Spoon-billed Sandpiper (apparently red or orange-flag on the left leg, perhaps below a blue band, with a wide silver ring on the right leg) and four Nordmann’s Greenshank (both NM only) and 40+ Saunders’s Gull.
A visit to the Geum Barrage in the evening (by JL and NM only) also found very large numbers of shorebirds (>10,000), including several over-sized (nominate?) Black-tailed Godwit feeding among a few hundred full-breeding plumaged melanuroides. In addition to the much larger size (obviously bigger than baueri Bar-tailed Godwit in direct comparision) and rather longer bill with pinkish rather than yellow bill base, these bigger birds looked much less advanced in plumage, with greyer wing coverts, scattered dark centres to the upperparts (in many cases lacking a strong rufous tip or edge), a more washed out tone, and a less obvious brow (appearing longer and buff-washed, and not short and shocking white like typical melanuroides). Other species of note there included both subspecies of Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey-tailed Tattler, 50+ Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and 2+ Broad-billed Sandpiper.