Bird news by Leslie Hurteau.
Some nice weather and calm winds inspired a short morning venture out to the far southeast tip of Jeju, Seopjikoji and nearby Shinyang Harbour. This area is generally fairly good for seawatching due to its location and geography, with great sightings being made in the past by others. The most notable being the ROK’s first Surf Scoter in 2022.
No scoters of any kind were spotted this particular morning, but it was still a fantastic albeit brief outing with three species of loon, small groups of Ancient Murrelet, and four species of grebe, including Red-necked Grebe which is quite rare on Jeju.
In Shinyang Harbour, an Arctic Loon was spotted resting distantly, and shortly after a Red-throated Loon was seen upclose by a breakwater. Several gull species were present, with the usual Vega, Black-tailed, Taimyr, and Slaty, with at least one Black-headed mixed in. Large groups of Eurasian Wigeon and Gadwall were present. No American Wigeons seen on this visit, but last month I spotted an American Wigeon at nearby Hado-ri Wetland. Other highlights included Carrion Crow, which is generally only reliably found in this part of Jeju.
eBird checklist here.
Next up was Seopjikoji, a fair sized headland / peninsula jutting out to the sea just south of Seongsan Ilchulbong. With the great views of Ilchulbong from the coast, it’s no wonder this little headland fills up with tourists pretty quick in the morning, pouring in from tour buses and vans. Seawatching was fairly productive for Jeju standards, with good numbers of Arctic Loon, some Pacific Loon mixed in, and a few groups of Ancient Murrelets. Pelagic and Temminck’s Cormorants were abundant, as were Black-tailed and Vega Gulls. A couple rafts of Great Crested Grebe were around as usual, with one having a Red-necked Grebe mixed in. Eared Grebes and a Horned Grebe were spotted as well.
eBird checklist here.
This whole southeast area is one of the most important areas for migratory birds on Jeju. Unfortunately, there is also pressure from an impending airport to be placed nearby, presumably with the intention of sparking economic activity in this rather rural area and providing fast access to some iconic Jeju scenery. I’m not sure how well the beauty of this area will hold up if this economic plan goes through, not to mention the increased pressure on wildlife already feeling a crunch from development.