Chungju, February 15

Bird News from Subhojit Chakladar

A few hours along the Namhan river in Chungju produced some good (and predictable) birds. The long staying (and much photographed) Great Grey Shrike and Red-Crested Pochard provided the first new birds this year for me in Korea. The unusually warm weather and lack on snow on the river meant that the waterfowl were scattered all over the place. The river also contained the usual suspects including Smews, Falcated Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Pochard, Goldeneyes (many of the males courting the females), Whooper Swan etc. 3 White-naped Cranes were seen flying over. The surrounding reed beds and fallow land contained a lot of Rustic and Meadow Buntings. Raptors included 2 juvenile White-tailed Eagles (often terrorizing the waterfowl flocks), Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Eastern Buzzard. However, the most intriguing bird of the day was a distant raptor. Seen at about 150m perched on the top of a bare tree in typical Aquila fashion, its head seemed rather small in proportion to its body. Initially, I thought it to be a juvenile White-tailed Eagle but its chest and belly seemed much lighted compared to the darker face and upper breast. Even though it was against the sun, the contrast between the light and the dark in the front was very clear. I tried to maneuver myself to get away from the sun but after a while the bird flew off. The tail seemed to have a prominent dark terminal band which was visible even at a distance. Expert opinion on the underpart coloration of juvenile White-tailed Eagles would be helpful.

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