Bird news from Leslie Hurteau.
Interested to see what fall migration was like elsewhere in Korea this season, I took a weekend trip to Heuksan Island, a place well known for its migratory birds and even has its own research station for banding birds.
I arrived on the island Saturday afternoon and went straight for the fields and wetlands by Baenanggimi. Four Rooks were seen near the harbour enroute, as well as White Wagtails, Grey Herons, and plenty of gulls within the harbour (a mix of Black-tailed, Vega, and Mongolian, with likely others). The fields and wetland had plenty of Stejneger’s Stonechats (recently split to Amur Stonechats), and buntings (Pallas’s Reed, Rustic, and Black-faced). A Northern Goshawk was seen passing over the valley, and a Common Snipe was flushed while walking along some reeds. Up in a reservoir were a large number of Mandarin Ducks, as well as a pair of Little Grebes.
The next day began before dawn, starting with two Common Snipe and a Common Sandpiper along a stream bed. A leisurely stroll along a channel in Jilli found Oriental Reed Warbler, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Pale Thrush, plenty of Amur Stonechats, Black-faced Buntings, Olive-backed Pipits, and Oriental Turtle Doves. Further in by a reservoir was a juvenile Black-crowed Night Heron and Tristram’s Buntings.
Returning to the wetland in Baenanggimi afterwards, a nice selection of raptors were seen including Osprey, White-tailed Eagle, Northern Goshawks, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, and three Eastern Buzzards. Pallas’s Reed Bunting and Amur Stonechats were the predominate passerines in the area, but White Wagtails, Olive-backed Pipits, Daurian Redstarts, and one Yellow-browed Warbler were present as well. In another stream and farm area were a couple surprises, a female Chestnut Bunting and Siberian Rubythroat.
The afternoon was spent in the elevated cow fields in Ye-ri, where a large group of pipits were found, roughly equal parts Red-throated and Buff-bellied. A Eurasian Skylark was briefly heard and then seen, as well as Black Kite, and a Large-billed Crow by the harbour.
The ferry trip on the way there and back unfortunately didn’t yield much other than a few Larus spp. gulls. With no outside access and windows caked over with salt from waves, seawatching wasn’t exactly easy. All in all, a pleasant weekend visit to Heuksan Island.