Seogwipo, January highlights

Bird News from Matt Poll

I have been checking my local Seogwipo patch daily for the past month. It’s been an unseasonably warm and hazy January, with double digit temperatures most days. I haven’t encountered anything unexpected, but Jeju has a nice mix of winter birds to see, some of which are not so common on the mainland at this time of year.

The hills are alive with tits! Varied, Long-tailed, and Coal Tits are exclusively found up at higher elevations, while Eastern Great Tits are widespread in wooded areas and parks. A White’s Thrush has been spotted several times at a dry riverbed that in summer is home to Japanese Paradise Flycatchers. I’ve also encountered several Bramblings at higher elevations, whereas Eurasian Siskins and Grey-capped Greenfinch can be found reliably in several parks around town.

These parks also feature Little Grebe, Green Sandpiper, White-backed Woodpecker, Red-flanked Bluetail, Daurian Redstart, White and Grey Wagtail, Olive-backed Pipit, Japanese White-eye, Blue Rock Thrush, plentiful Yellow-throated Bunting, as well as an overwintering Striated Heron. Pale Thrushes can be heard burbling through most areas with shady undergrowth, but rarely seen, as they are quite shy. On the 29th I witnessed a group of close to 20 Mandarin Ducks awkwardly feeding on fruit in a large riverside tree – quite a spectacle!

In and around the harbour, several Common Sandpiper, Pacific Reef Herons, Mandarin Ducks (120+), several Gadwall, Mallard, Spot-billed Duck, Eurasian Teal, a Common Pochard, as well as Common Coots, several Black-crowned Night Heron, and a Red-throated Loon. On the coast, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes can be seen relatively close in to shore at a number of sites.

Recently I was surprised to hear the exotic ‘summer song’ of the Japanese Bush Warbler – very early in the year I thought (January 27). Usually at this time of year they can be heard ‘check-check-checking’ from the underbrush. Their ‘winter call’ is very similar to the Eurasian Wren, a bird which can be found at several quiet riverside sites around town.

On the 30th near Jungmun, I found a flock of almost two dozen Red-billed Starlings perched on wires, competing for berries with Brown-eared Bulbuls. Nearby, a small band of personata Black-faced Buntings moved through thick underbrush on a quiet riverside. White-cheeked Starlings, Chinese Grosbeaks, and Dusky Thrushes have been conspicuously absent from Seogwipo this winter. Raptors were represented in January by several pairs of Eastern Buzzard, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, several Peregrine Falcons, Common Kestrels, and a Northern Goshawk.


Japanese Bush Warbler Horornis diphone. Photo © Matt Poll.


Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus. Photo © Matt Poll.


Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata. Photo © Matt Poll.


Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata. Photo © Matt Poll.


Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata. Photo © Matt Poll.


Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata. Photo © Matt Poll.


White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos. Photo © Matt Poll.


Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes. Photo © Matt Poll.


Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus. Photo © Matt Poll.


White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea. Photo © Matt Poll.


Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus. Photo © Matt Poll.


Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra. Photo © Matt Poll.

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