Bird News from Matt Poll
The reeds at Suncheon Bay at this time of year are constantly rustling with restless Vinous-throated Parrotbills, Chinese Penduline Tits, and Pallas’s Reed Buntings (though almost no Common Reed Buntings yet). There are now noticeably less reeds for these birds, as truckloads of workers have been harvesting large swaths of reeds from the area lately, leaving the inevitable piles of trash behind them. Another issue is that one has to be careful where one steps these days, as a disturbing and widespread new trend at the bay seems to be ‘outdoor bathroom breaks’ – a truly repulsive situation.
The bay was gloomy and chilly on December 24th, with the obvious highlight being a brief encounter with a female Bluethroat. Other noteworthy bird sightings included a Western Osprey, just one Cinereous Vulture, and a dozen Lapland Longspurs. Two days later in the hills north of town, seven Pallas’s Rosefinch were a treat to watch as they fed in a roadside ditch.
On the final day of 2015, an Eastern Water Rail and the overwintering pair of Hen Harriers were seen, but the real excitement for the day came in the form of three Pine Buntings. This is a long-awaited species for me, and this sighting was apparently the most southerly mainland record.
A Siberian Accentor on January 2nd was a personal new species for the site, as were two Long-tailed Rosefinch on January 9th. Later in the day, I was fairly surprised to see a lethargic Long-billed Dowitcher. Six White-naped Cranes were also a welcome sight.