Geum Estuary, May 8

Bird News from Nial Moores with Xavier Vandervyre and Francois.

Best for the day were excellent and prolonged views of several of the six Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper seen (with four full breeding-plumaged adults and a Second Calendar-year together; and a more weakly plumaged bird – either a well-developed Second Calendar-year or a poorly-developed adult type, seen separately at some distance). None of the five birds seen well had any leg-bands.



rs-spoonyandredneckedstint-DSC05058Breeding-plumaged adult Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, with breeding-plumaged Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis (bottom image) © Nial Moores. Spoonies are a little larger and rather bigger-headed than Red-necks, and often lift-and-run rather than shuffle when feeding. At this time of year too, they also tend to look rather darker, with e.g. more dark centres on the crown and dried-blood tones instead of orange. This helps to accentuate plumage contrasts, so that even at range the mantle braces, the blotchy spotting on the breast-sides and the white donut around the bill base often stand out more than on Red-necked Stint.

In total, 25 shorebird species were seen in the Geum, with c. 40,000 individuals on Yubu and 10,000+ below the estuarine barrage – including at least 575 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, a healthy count of a much-decreased species.

rs-tideline-DSC05290Rich colours of the tundra along the tide-line © Nial Moores. How many species of shorebird can you see?

As expected at this site, we encountered an array of globally threatened Yellow Sea-dependent species including ~10,000 breeding-plumaged Great Knot, several hundred Far Eastern Curlew, two Nordmann’s Greenshank, three Black-faced Spoonbill, one Chinese Egret and 35 Saunders’s Gull.  Other species of note in the estuary included good numbers of Red-necked Stint (perhaps 3,000 in total), several dozen Broad-billed Sandpiper, and single singing Forest Wagtail, Arctic and Black-browed Reed Warblers.

In the evening, a visit to an area of river near Jeonju then found adult and juvenile Japanese Wagtail and single singing Ruddy Kingfisher, Indian Cuckoo and Oriental Scops Owl (heard only).


  • How many shorebirds in the image above?  From left to right: Red-necked Stint (5), Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (4), Mongolian Plover (1), Terek Sandpiper (2), Broad-billed Sandpiper (3), Dunlin (1) and Common Redshank (1) – seven shorebird species in total.

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