Gangneung, September 13-14

Bird News from Tim Edelsten

A stroll near Gyeongpo Lake on the afternoon of the 13th found e.g. a Chinese Pond Heron, two Common Kingfisher, Hobby, one or two Mongolian Gull (on the lake), close views of an Oriental Reed Warbler, Bull-headed Shrike, Striated Heron, 3 Common Snipe (which conversed non-stop with eachother in harsh calls towards dusk), and of most interest, an apparent juvenile Lesser Cuckoo, which allowed close views as it returned repeatedly to the same tree, gorging itself on catterpillars. Identification was based on the rather small size and neat, slim build; very bold, large white spotting along the uppertail (as depicted in Brazil, 2009), and barely visible very fine white trim on the coverts.

One the 14th, a few hours seawatching from the outer wall of the harbour produced two juvenile Pomarine Skua  and an early Vega Gull, identifiable on e.g. structure and shading, steep forehead, and diffuse but faint blotching head and nape (not present on the earlier Mongolian). Best perhaps, prolonged views of some 500 Common Tern, most of which idled in a long raft, occasionally roused into a great white cloud, and a close encounter with two Ruddy Turnstone.

Along the beach and at the mouth of the nearby Namdae Stream, a Mandarin Duck, already nine Sanderling, a Red-necked Stint, four Grey-tailed Tattler and a Common Sandpiper.

Presumed Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus, © Tim Edelsten

Presumed Lesser Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus, © Tim Edelsten

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, © Tim Edelsten

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres, © Tim Edelsten

2 comments on “Gangneung, September 13-14

  1. Some great images and good records (especially the terns and Pomarines). Just wonder if the bird in your images might be an Oriental rather than a Lesser? At least in these two images, the bird looks fairly sizeable, without the cute mien of Lesser and with a fairly long-looking tail. The eye also looks rather pale (Lesser usually / often [always?] is darker-eyed) and the underpart barring is pretty extensive, apparently extending across the central breast (?) and also on the vent. The dark upperparts, heavily barred look above (without obvious pale fringes) and the denseness of the barring/mottling on the throat all look okay for Oriental (and are well-depicted in the new must-have field guide by Mr. Park Jong-Gil). Either way, these cuckoos still remain among the toughest of ID challenges!

  2. Thanks for your input. I welcome more discussion on this…

    A couple more images of this individual (just click on the link):

    My earlier images give an illusion of large size I guess, but perhaps these two look more like Lesser. Actually, in the field it looked quite compact and small, almost bulbul-sized.

    Looking at Park Jong-Gil’s field guide, his images of Lesser are indeed all of dark (black?) eyed individuals. Could this be mostly limited to adults I wonder? His images of juvenile Oriental however, show obvious white fringes on the coverts as well as a prominent white nape-patch, which seems to be lacking on my bird.

    Robson and Brazil both depict juv. Lesser as being brown-eyed, with darker brown plumage than Oriental, and larger/ bolder white tail-spotting.

    Comparing images of Lesser and Oriental online, I notice that Oriental often holds its wings drooping down at its side (below tail level), whereas Lesser usually folds its wings neatly over the tail. Perhaps a useful id point?

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