Baekryeong Island, April 24-28

Bird News from Nial Moores, Bernhard Seliger and Choi Hyun-Ah (from late on 25th)

In generally clear and sunny conditions, with winds swinging round to all points west on the 27th, we logged approximately 140 species, with rarest in the Korean context single Yellow-streaked Warbler (on the 26th); and single Red-breasted Flycatcher on the 27th and 28th.   In  many ways, even more noteworthy, however, were the continuing presence of Black-faced Spoonbill (five) and Chinese Egret (four) in the main Black-tailed Gull colony (on 28th) and very large numbers of buntings (especially on the 27th).

The survey, funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Korea) as part of a collaborative Birds Korea-HSF project looking to support islanders who want to conserve biodiversity on their island had an especial focus on Hwadong wetland and adjacent rice-fields (where we met with rice-farmer Jang Se-Chol through the introduction of Kim Yung Jung of the Nonghyup Kisul Centre), as well as the more regularly-surveyed migrant hotspots.

Just a few of the more interesting observations/ noteworthy counts and records at the island or national-level follow:

  • Garganey Spatula querquedula. One male in Hwadong wetland on 26th.
  • Stejneger’s Scoter Melanitta (deglandi) stejnegeri. Present throughout, with 14 off Sagot Beach on the 26th and 13 there on the 27th.
  • Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia. Three were in Hwadong wetland on 25th and 26th, falling to one on subsequent dates.

Eurasian Spoonbill © Nial Moores

  • Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor. Five were in the most remote part of the main gull colony on the 28th, with two birds perhaps / apparently sitting on nests.

Black-faced Spoonbill and Black-tailed Gulls Larus crassirostris © Bernhard Seliger

  • Purple Heron Ardea purpurea. One on 24th; two on 26th; and one on 27th.

Purple Heron © Bernhard Seliger

  • Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo. About 10 were in Hwadong wetland throughout. These are perhaps the first properly documented records of this species on the island, where until recently Temminck’s occupied all wetland areas, as well as the coastal zone.
  • Little Curlew Numenius minutus. One was at Yeonhwa Ri on 27th.

Little Curlew © Nial Moores (I do still wonder why the IOC or anyone would prefer to call this species a curlew when they have a head pattern that is so much more Whimbrel-like!)

  • Oriental Pratincole Glareola madivarum. Two were in Hwadong wetland on 26th.

Oriental Pratincole © Nial Moores

  • Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris. Between 15,000 and 20,000 were in the main colony on 28th.
  • Common Swift Apus apus. A probable was seen at close range on 25th.
  • Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla. Two on 25th; one on 26th; and seven on 28th.

Eurasian Wryneck © Nial Moores

  • Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis. The personal first two of the spring were logged on 28th.

Black-naped Oriole © Nial Moores

  • Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica. Singles were in Jincheon on 27th and Junghwadong on 28th.
  • Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus. The second commonest phylloscopus after Yellow-browed Warbler, with a “low high count” of 25 on the 28th.

Eastern Crowned Warbler © Bernhard Seliger

  • Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis. Personal first of the spring was one rather bewildered-looking individual  sitting right out in the open at Yeonhwa Ri on 27th. Contrary to a recent ebird report from the mainland, at least in my experience this is a genuinely scarce species in the northwest of the ROK in April (e.g. the first record in near-continuous survey on Socheong Island from late March to early June 2010 was May 10th).

Oriental Reed Warbler © Bernhard Seliger

  • Chestnut-cheeked Starling Agropsar philippensis. A male and a female were seen together in Sagot Ri in the afternoon and again in the evening in Jincheon on 25th.

Chestnut-cheeked Starling © Nial Moores

  • Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana. Both several black-throated and at least one blue-throated males were noted.

Blue-and-white Flycatchers, top © Bernhard Seliger, below © Nial Moores. It is birds like this blue-throated one that undermine some of the confidence felt when claiming a Zappey’s

  • Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlweskii. The first was one on 28th.
  • Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni. By far the most numerous of the pipits on the island, with the highest day count a conservative 500 on the 27th.

Olive-backed Pipit © Bernhard Seliger

  • Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi. The first was one on 28th.
  • Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla. A very conservative 1,350-1,500 were logged on the 27th, including a single flock of 800 in “Best Fields”.

Little Bunting © Nial Moores

  • Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys. There were a conservatively estimated 1,020 in the northeast of the island on 27th (and dozens scattered around the rest of the island on the 28th).

Yellow-browed Bunting © Nial Moores

  • Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola. The first two (both males) of this now Critically Endangered species were logged on 27th.
  • Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata. One was heard on 26th.
  • Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala. Often the most numerous bunting, but the highest count was of “only” 500 on 27th, most concentrated in the northeast.

Black-faced Bunting © Nial Moores

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