Monthly Archives: October 2023

Baengnyeong Island, October 18th to 26th

Nial Moores, Birds Korea, October 31st 2023.

All images copyright of Nial Moores and Birds Korea.

A total of 143 species were logged during this survey visit, with the outstanding highlight a Blyth’s Reed Warbler present from 22nd to at least 26th. After this survey, the number of bird species recorded on this island since 2013 now stands at 387.

Selected highlights by day follow.

On October 18th, following a very unproductive ferry journey, a walk around the northeast found 58 species. Species of note included ten Black (American) Scoter and 58 Stejneger’s Scoter, decent numbers of finches, and at least 110 Coal Tit, hinting at a potentially large movement of the species.

Stejneger’s Scoter Melanitta stejnegeri 검둥오리사촌.
Black (American) Scoter Melanitta americana 검둥오리 with Spotted Seal Phoca larga.

Full checklist on eBird here.

On 19th, the whole day was spent in the northeast, with prolonged long “sits” counting raptors and visible migrants. Highlights included at least 300 Coal Tit moving west, two Greater Spotted Eagle (one juvenile and one adult) and soon after a much trickier individual, identified (tentatively?) as a sub-adult Steppe Eagle, on the basis of the bird’s rather bulkier look, with larger head and bill, seven visible primary fingers, and plumage details, which included a lack of white underwing comma, and presence of a paler tail, and white on the upperwing (along the upperwing coverts and on the primary bases).

Coal Tit Periparus ater 진박새. Large movements of this species are not so unusual in autumn. This year, however, there seems to be massive movements in Fenno-Scandanavia, and large movements in parts of Japan and Korea (the largest movement I am aware of was back in 2023, when I counted 3,200 moving off from Socheong in only one hour on October 30th).
Presumed Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis 초원수리.

Full checklist for the day on eBird here.

On 20th, another Greater Spotted Eagle was watched moving rapidly west from the bus-stop, but the southwest of the island was rather bird-poor with only 45 species logged, including a tardy Asian Brown Flycatcher and a timely Taiga Flycatcher and only small numbers of buntings (including the Black-faced Bunting below) and finches.

Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala 촉새.

See the full checklist on eBird here.

Rain showers overnight gave way to increasingly windy conditions on the 21st. Survey was limited to the centre of the island, starting with the sea off from the main sluice gate, and then coverage of the reclamation lake, Hwadong wetlands and rice-fields just north of the lake. In all, 65 species were logged, with rarest in the Korean context an adult Brant Goose (third or fourth record in the past 3 years) and rarest in the Baengnyeong context a single Red-necked Grebe – a first island record – both on the sea.

Brant Goose Branta bernicla nigricans 흑기러기.

Additional records of special note included 16 Red Crossbill (following on shortly after a small flock was reported from Jeju) hinting at a potential irruption, and single Upland Buzzard and Merlin.

See the full checklist on eBird here.

On 22nd, calm conditions at dawn facilitated the discovery of first a Red-breasted Flycatcher and soon after Korea’s second Blyth’s Reed Warbler in Jinchon (see full account on the identification here), followed by a substantial movement of raptors. As winds started to increase from the southwest, creating headwinds for birds moving off island, survey of the southwest corner seemed advisable. There, another suspected Red-breasted Flycatcher was heard (but too briefly to confirm); and additional highlights included at least 300 Coal Tits, 30 Red Crossbill, at least 110 Yellow-browed Warblers (a rather high count for late October) and decent numbers of raptors, with a Short-eared Owl also watched soaring (above 500masl).

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 노랑눈썹솔새.
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus 쇠부엉이.

See the full eBird Checklists here and here.

On 23rd, 106 species were logged during survey in the northeast, southwest and in the central wetlands area. In addition to the Blyth’s Reed Warbler and Brant Goose still being present, highlights included about 1600 Coal Tit logged during the day (including 720 counted moving back west at one count point in 90 minutes); high numbers of raptors (including a stunning male Amur Falcon in the northeast and 48 Northern Goshawk in the southwest in only 3 hours); and good numbers of geese, including one Swan Goose. While separation of Taiga Bean Goose from Tundra Bean Goose is easy in the southeast of Korea, identification is much more of a challenge on Baengnyeong and along parts of the west coast, presumably as these are geese that are wintering primarily in China.

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis 비둘기조롱이.
Juvenile Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis 참매.
Taiga Bean Anser fabalis 큰부리큰기러기, Tundra Bean Anser serrirostris 큰기러기, Greater White-fronted Anser albifrons 쇠기러기 and single Swan Goose Anser cygnoides 개리 .

The day also included highest day counts of this research visit of both white-headed Long-tailed Tit and of Chestnut-flanked White-eye.

White-headed Long-tailed Tits Aegithalos caudatus caudatus 흰머리오목눈이.
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus 한국동박새.

On 24th, I only managed a couple of hours in the field due to desk work. Numbers and diversity seemed rather low, with only 41 species logged from a regular watch-point, including the Blyth’s Reed Warbler still, decent numbers of finches (including 65 Hawfinch and the personal first Japanese Grosbeak of the season) and of Dusky Thrush (90) with the first two Naumann’s Thrush of the visit.

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes 콩새.

See the full checklist on eBird here.

In SSE winds on the 25th, the only survey was of Dumujin in the northwest. Although apparently rather quiet, notable species found in 45 minutes along a 500m stretch of forest edge included first a “Siberian” Chiffchaff, then a calling Hume’s Leaf Warbler and then two calling Red-breasted Flycatchers together!

“Siberian” Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis 검은다리솔새.
Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva 서양흰꼬리딱새.

See the full checklist on eBird here.

Due to work commitments, I needed to leave the island at lunchtime on the 26th, ahead of a potentially interesting weather system. Several hours in the field in the northeast found a respectable 57 species, including the Blyth’s Reed Warbler still, a decent number and diversity of buntings (finally…) and at least 1100 Brambling.

Brambling Fringilla montifringilla 되새.

연천 임진강 생물권보전지역: 9월 7-22일

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