Suncheon, May 12 – June 2


1 habitat

Suncheon at dusk © Matt Poll

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Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka © Matt Poll

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Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis © Matt Poll

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Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis © Matt Poll

Bird News from Matt Poll

It feels like summer in Suncheon, with noisy Oriental Reed Warblers in every patch of reeds, Black-naped Orioles calling and nesting, and Oriental Dollarbirds chasing Chinese Sparrowhawks through the hot and muggy hills.  On May 30, a Chinese Pond Heron was seen in the company of a dozen Cattle Egrets in a rice field, and on May 31, three Striated Herons, several calling Indian Cuckoos, and a lone Whooper Swan in a small reservoir were notable west of Suncheon.

Nesting Chestnut-cheeked Starling update:  First sighted nesting on May 6, when I checked in on May 12, 25 and 29, I saw two to three pairs of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings still attending their telephone pole nests.  On the 12th, I saw a pair at a post about one kilometre away from the main site, although it is unclear if this was one of the original pairs feeding, or a new pair.  On May 29, the happy sound of peeping chicks was heard from within one nest when an adult returned with food.

On the morning of May 28, I saw some wader-type birds in a rice field south of town, and I was unable to ID them due to the distance and poor lighting.  When I returned at dusk on May 31, I was greeted by an owl-like hooting coming from the same spot.  After a few minutes of observation, a pair of Greater Painted Snipes revealed themselves at the far end of a rice field.  They stood tail to tail for a while, before the male performed a wing-raising display for several minutes in the fading light.  I managed to capture several terrible distant record shots.  Here’s hoping this pair will breed successfully.

Nearby, just before sundown, the local Eurasian Bittern was spotted as it made a short flight between reedbeds, presumably to roost.  Nine Eurasian Spoonbills were seen at considerable distance on the flats, although two of them looked potentially like Black-faced Spoonbills.

On June 2, while on a walk in the hills just northeast of downtown Suncheon with Heloise Stankard, we heard two Fairy Pittas calling from across a wide valley.  Shortly thereafter, a male Grey Nightjar surprised us with a noisy circular flight over our heads, before landing nearby.  It was wonderful to finally see this incredible species after only hearing it for so many years.

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