Nam Cheon, July 21

Bird News by Barry Heinrich

I was allowed to go home early yesterday, at 2.30pm.

Considering there was a break in what has been rather inclement weather, and with plenty of time, I decided to walk from home to Nam Cheon, down to the coast, then north to Buk Cheon and back home again from there. The walk took me a bit over 4 hours with several delays to see and photograph various wildlife.

Common Greenshanks Tringa nebularia

At first my walk seemed a bit dull with just Tree Sparrows, Oriental Reed Warblers and a Siberian Stonechat along the first part of Nam Cheon. Adding an Oriental Turtle Dove and a couple of Striated Herons didn’t make things a lot brighter. Then I found 6 young Mandarin Ducks and 7 Eastern Spot-billed Ducks along the flooded creek. They all took cover in the long grass as soon as they saw me. The two Common Greenshanks were more cooperative and I took all the photos I wanted of them, both with my zoom lense and with my digiscope.

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo

My next target was a Eurasian Hobby that obligingly sat on top of an electricity pole while I took as many photos of it as I wanted getting close enough for almost full frame shots using the digiscope. I was next to a thick patch of grass under the electricity cables taking Hobby photos when I notice a few young Tree Frogs. It was then that I regretted leaving my macro lense at home, but I still managed to get some acceptable images using my large zoom and my small zoom lenses. I counted about 30 of these froglets in about three square metres enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

Heading north didn’t show me a lot more birds, 5 Grey Herons, 2 Eastern Great Egrets and more Tree Sparrows. Along a small concrete drainage ditch I heard the distresses cries of a frog. The ditch was a bit overgrown with grass but I managed to find what I think was a Water Snake with a good sized Black-spotted Pond Frog in its mouth hanging into the ditch. I got one acceptable photo looking through the grass, but when I tried to clear the grass away for a better view, the snake dropped into the water in the bottom of the ditch. At Buk Cheon I saw about 120 Black-tailed Gulls, a few Vega Gulls, 7 Great Cormorants, 6 Grey Herons and 3 Spot-billed Ducks on the sandbar.

I didn’t see many more birds until I found a Black-capped Kingfisher at the hill where the Egrets and Herons nest each year. I had a little walk through the forest on the hill before heading back to Buk Cheon. The Kingfisher was sitting on a wire near near the creek and I was just about close enough to get photos with my digiscope equipment. I had it all set up and was just focusing on the bird when it flew away. Another couple of seconds would have been enough to get some photos.

I didn’t see a lot more until I got to the new highway. I found about 20 Grey-capped Greenfinches there. I think they were eating the insect larvae that roll the edge of leaves on Robinia pseudoacaia trees. At the Buk Cheon weir there was a Striated Heron and two Grey Wagtails. A little further along I saw about 30 more Grey-capped Greenfinches, this time feeding on seeds of Coreopsis lanceolata flowers growing on the side of the new highway.

From there I decided to head home along the ridge track to the northeast of Ganseong Eup. As I climbed up the embankment to the top of the ridge I found some Eastern Great Tits. I think they were feeding on the small black insect larvae that were eating the leaves of some regenerating shrubs. There were some Yellow-throated Buntings in the same area and I could hear a couple of Grey-backed Thrushes singing to the east in the forest. There were more Tree Sparrows at the top opf the ridge. As I walked along the ridge track I found two Tiger Shrikes. They both had food in their bills so they must have had young nearby. I also saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Brown-eared Bulbuls, Black-naped Orioles and Barn Swallows as I went along the ridge. It was getting close to 7 pm when I heard something moving in the low vegetation off the track. Carefully approaching a small partly cleared are I saw a family of 5 Racoon Dogs. I was lucky enough to get a couple of photos of two before they disappeared into cover.

In the last bit of foest at the edge of town I found a couple of Daurian Redstarts, more Tree Sparrows, a Dollarbird and a Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. In all I had quite a nice time on my free afternoon and I got some nice photos. I really get up to some mischief when they let me out early, don’t I?

2 comments on “Nam Cheon, July 21

  1. Mr Heinrich
    I’m planning a birding trip for the 15th August extended weekend. I was wondering what kind of birds I can expect in the North East coast … lets say starting from Sokcho … all the way upto Hwajin-po, at this time of the year. I’ve followed your accounts regarding birding in that part of Korea with a lot of interest but haven’t been to that area for birding. The other option that I have is to go for the Mokpo region and if possible one island for that weekend. Do you think its worth traveling from Suwon for birds at this time of the year?

  2. Hi Subhojit,
    Birding in the middle of August in Northeast Gangwon Provice is a bit unpredictable. This year there has been a lot of rainy weather and it looks like continuaing through the month of August.
    You are like to find the summer visitor birds and some of the resident species. There is also a good chance of find some shorebirds along the coast, if there are not too many people around. Unfortunately, August is summer vacation time in Korea and many people from the west come to enjoy the east coast beaches.
    If you have your own transport you can get to more places. South of Sokcho in Yangyang and Namdae Cheon, one of my favourite birding areas. It’s possible to do by taking a bus if you don’t have your own car. The lagoons don’t have a lot of birds at this time of the year, Spot-billed Ducks, Grey Herons, Eastern Great Egrets and maybe Mandarin Ducks. There could be other birds in the forest around the lagoons. Many more birds come to the lagoons in late November and December with seabirds returning around the same time.
    I have other plans for that weekend so I can’t offer to take you around.
    Have fun with whatever you decided to do.
    Barry Heinrich

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