Bird News from Mike Friel
My birding week begins with a quick drive around the local manure heaps. I am fortunate to spot a tagged Cinereous Vulture among the many scavenging for dead chicken. I learn later it was rehabilitated and tagged in Korea. I go on to a small stream where I briefly see two Yellow-bellied Tits, and then later another single male in a different place. I have seen several this year around Majeen. I resolve to get to grips with them later in the week.
The road up to Jagulsan from Uiryoung is lined with cherry trees and I see 12 Eurasian Bullfinches at work, each a budding tree surgeon. One group of 5 ignores me completely in their fervor to devour as many buds as possible, so I get close views. I later see 3 more, hacking away at azaleas higher up. The other sighting of interest is a flock of about 10 Large-billed Crows biting off lumps of ice and flying off to enjoy their treats in private.
A walk near the village of Daegok soon leads to views of a fine male Red-flanked Bluetail. This winter I have seen 5 or 6 such beautiful males, whereas in previous years I was lucky to see one. I also see my first butterflies of the year – Libythea celtis and Polygonia c-aureum.
Driving along the small river and then upper estuary at Sacheon, I find over 200 Common Shelducks. I also come across 5 Smews, some 40 Gadwalls, two Long-billed Plovers, a Northern Lapwing and the more common ducks (including a single Common Pochard, Common Goldeneye and Tufted Duck).
This turns out to be Yellow Day. I brush the dust off my tripod and set up a makeshift hide with my large sheet of camo by the stream where the Yellow-bellied Tits come to drink and bathe. I don’t have to wait long, and soon I have pictures of 4 of these hyperactive birds, and I think there was a fifth. There are also many other tits and some Yellow-throated Buntings taking the waters. Feeling smug that I outsmarted the YBTs for once, I drive on to a row of alders frequented by Eurasian Siskins. There are about 20 feeding in their acrobatic manner, a bit distant this time.