Bird News from Nial Moores with Mike Danzenbaker, Lee Hung and Angus Wilson
More than 90 species recorded during a day back in and around Gunsan, where the weather was much milder and brighter than during the whiteout on the 9th (and subsequently), with an overnight low of -5C and a high rising to +3C. Highlights during a very good day included 130+ Baikal Teal, five distant Oriental Stork, stunning views of a group of 33 Swan Goose, including one with a geolocator neck collar, a group of five Yellow-bellied Tit and several decent-sized flocks of Rustic Bunting.
The day started with a small, loose mixed flock of thrushes (Naumann’s, Dusky and Pale near our hotel) and a calling Japanese Bush Warbler.
Naumann’s Thrush Turdus naumanni (photographed on the 10th, but included here- as so stunning!) © Mike Danzenbaker
On the Geum River, no sign of the flock of 10,000 Baikal Teal reported on the 10th by Lee Byoungwoo. Instead, 130-190 Baikal Teal, 2000+ Tufted Duck and several large huddles of Mallard and Eastern Spotbilled Duck, with 350+ Rustic Bunting in riverside reeds and farmland.
Baikal Teal Sibirionetta formosa (top, © Mike Danzenbaker; below © Nial Moores). (Note the new IOC scientific name for Baikal Teal, one of many changes included in the soon-to-be-posted 2018 Birds Korea Checklist)
In the Geum Estuary, prolonged and close looks at a group of 33 loafing Swan Goose, where other species of note also included 415 Far Eastern Oystercatcher, 1,130 Eurasian Curlew, 180 Saunders’s Gull, three Long-billed Plover and an overflying waxwing (most likely a Bohemian Waxwing).
Swan Goose Anser cygnoides © Nial Moores
Saunders’s Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi (photographed at the Geum Estuary on January 9th) © Mike Danzenbaker
In the afternoon, an unsuccessful search for Upland Buzzard took us to the area near Gyewhado and the massively-degraded Saemangeum reclamation area, with a single Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Daurian Jackdaw and several flocks of Rook seen en route in snow-covered rice-fields. Within Saemangeum itself we found four Hen Harrier, a presumed Eastern Marsh Harrier, four White-tailed Eagle and a distant group of five Oriental Stork in flight. Also present there were c. 25 Korean Water Deer.
Two of “Team Murrelet” on the road to nowhere in Saemangeum © Nial Moores (AW on left, MD on right), and former tidal-flats near Gyewhado – almost 12 years after the tides last flowed. For a recent article on the Saemangeum ecological, social and economic distaster, please see here)