Bird news from Nial Moores
A return to Goseong County to continue conducting counts of seabirds as part of a joint project with the Hanns Seidel Foundation Korea (HSF) to research biodiversity in the inner border region of Korea. On the 20th, with swell and wave heights reaching at worst 2m and at best <1m, weather was (finally) sufficiently “calm” to take Captain Choi’s boat out from Daejin Harbour, when again joined by Choi Hyun-Ah from HSF who recorded our position at 10-minute intervals (which should allow us eventually to map bird distribution along this especially important part of the coast).
Leaving the harbour… © Nial Moores
Goseong Coast looking north; with much of Kumgang Mountain and the coastline of the northern part of the county just visible © Nial Moores
Goseong County, looking south with the Daejin lighthouse in the foreground © Nial Moores
Using superb Swarovski optiks, I again counted on the 20th from the highly-recommended January Pension in Daejin for two hours in the early morning and for one hour at dusk from the lighthouse. On the 21st, I counted for several hours in the morning, from 15 minutes before sunrise on and off until 13:00, during which time a major movement of birds got underway, with several thousand birds per hour passing south between c. 0815 and at least midday. The most numerous species were Black-legged Kittiwake, Ancient Murrelet, Vega Gull, Rhinoceros Auklet and Red-throated Loon. This movement also included several hundred Common Gull, including one very short-billed bird with a lot of white in the primaries (digiscoped too poorly to identify to taxon or to post here) and several flocks of Eurasian Wigeon and other dabbling ducks.
In the afternoon of 21st, I then walked and surveyed along the coast from Daejin via Hwajin Po, where there were a few dozen Great Cormorant, 20+ alba “western” Great Egret, 20+ Smew and 200+ Tufted Duck, finishing at Goseong headland.
“Western” Great Egret Ardea alba alba © Nial Moores
Smew Mergellus albellus © Nial Moores
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula © Nial Moores
On the 22nd, survey was attempted again for two hours in the morning from the January Pension, in pouring rain and poor visibility.
More detailed reports are being prepared for Hanns Seidel. In addition to low numbers of typical winter specials (e.g. Harlequin Duck, American Scoter and Glaucous Gull), most notable species / counts included:
- Baikal Teal 가창오리. A flock of about 150 roosting on the sea on afternoon of 21st.
- “Asiatic” White-winged Scoter 검둥오리사촌. Twenty-five on the sea on the 20th and 101 counted moving south during the morning of the 21st.
“Asiatic” White-winged Scoter Melanitta (deglandi) stejnegeri © Nial Moores
- Long-tailed Duck 바다꿩. One female seen about 8km from shore on the 20th.
- Loons sp. A total of 386 went south in the first two hours of the morning on the 20th, and 854 went south during three hours of the morning of the 21st. The vast majority appeared to be Red-throated Loons (with almost all Red-throated and only a handful each of Arctic and Pacific Loons seen from land or from the boat on any one of the three days).
- Yellow-billed Loon 흰부리아비. One possible from the boat on the 20th; and one probable and one definite south on the 21st.
- Great Cormorant 민물가마우지. At 07:50 on the 21st a single flock of 410 flew south, then swung back round, dropped into the sea in front of the Pension and started to feed voraciously. Only a dozen or so remained by midday.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo (with First-winter Mongolian Gull in the centre) © Nial Moores
- White-tailed Eagle 흰꼬리수리. An adult was seen about 5km offshore on the 20th moving south then east. Perhaps the same bird was seen over the pension shortly after dawn on the 21st and over Hwajin Po the same afternoon.
- Black-legged Kittiwake 세가락갈매기. Seven hundred were counted feeding off from January Pension on the 20th; 497 were counted from the boat the same day and 300 were counted moving south in the evening. On the 21st, a massive southward movement started at about 08:15, with 565 counted going south in the first 20 minutes and this movement continuing at a more or less similar rate until at least midday. The movement trailed off during the afternoon, when there were still >1,000 feeding off from Geojin headland. A conservative estimate (based on a series of timed counts) on the 21st was of 6,500 birds within 3-4km of shore. On the 22nd, the weather reduced visibility to only 1-2km, with 170 birds seen feeding off from January Pension and 375 counted moving south in 20 minutes.
- Pomarine Skua / Parasitic Jaeger 넓적꼬리도둑갈매기 / 북극도둑갈매기. A distant skua / jaeger was seen on the evening of the 20th off the lighthouse. On the 22nd, a Pomarine Skua (perhaps the same individual?) was then seen in heavy rain and low visibility off from the pension.
- Thick-billed Murre 흰줄부리바다오리. Two were seen off the lighthouse on the 20th.
- Spectacled Guillemot 흰눈썹바다오리. Three were off Geojin headland on the 21st.
- Ancient Murrelet 바다쇠오리. A total of 1,172 were counted from the boat on the 20th (some within 2-3km of shore and many between about 5km and 8km from shore) and 250 were seen flying south the same evening. On the 21st, a large movement started at about 08:30 and continued on into the mid-afternoon, with 808 counted going south in only one hour. In the evening, about 500 were visible on the sea within 2-3km of the shore. A conservative estimate for the 21st was of 4,100 birds within 3-4km of shore.
- Rhinoceros Auklet 흰수염바다오리. On the 20th, 133 were counted from the boat (most >5km offshore) and 30 were seen moving south off from the lighthouse in the evening. On the 21st, a large southward movement started at about 08:30 and continued on irregularly until midday, with e.g. 699 counted moving south between 11 and 12 midday. Approximately 450 were visible off from Geojin headland in the evening, most probably 2-3km offshore. A conservative estimate for the day was of 1,600.