Baekryeong Island, April 25 – 26

Bird News from Nial Moores

After a day’s delay due to fog, the ferry departed Incheon for Baekryeong. The journey was smooth over calm seas, but my own mood (and no doubt that of many others’) was extraordinarily heavy. We left from the same building used by the Sewol’s doomed passengers only 10 days before. In the terminal now, the ferry timetable with Sewol’s name still; yellow ribbons on seats; post-it stickers sending love to lost friends and family; and televisions replaying that awful, surely avoidable sinking, half-watched by some of today’s passengers – a few of whom drank coffee while others had their early morning beers. Leaving the port, outside access was strictly forbidden while at sea – according to the safety announcement – but was nonetheless permitted once an hour or so for people to go out for a smoke. When will actions match words?

From inside, most numerous birds seen at sea were Black-tailed Gull (290) and Ancient Murrelet (59) with the highlight a Yellow-billed Loon in heavy moult, rowing away from our passing ship.

On Baekryeong itself, as a warm-up for this year’s Birdathon (still time for sponsors to support, please!..), a total of 112 species logged in the first 24 hours on the island, with less than a third of the island covered (all on foot). No flycatchers and few warblers were logged (likely because of the past week’s dry weather) and species of most note included a Black-faced Spoonbill in the main marsh at Hwadong (a key habitat now threatened by yet-more road construction: more on this to be posted later), single Chinese Blackbird and Japanese Waxwing, a flock of 57Red-throated Pipit feeding in one ploughed field at Sagot, three Japanese Quail, and at least four Pechora Pipitoverhead on the 26th (with the early date suggesting menzbieri).

Black-faced-Spoonbill_NMBlack-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, © Nial Moores

Chinese-Blackbird_NMChinese Blackbird Turdus merula, © Nial Moores

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