Baekryeong Island, October 18th-21st

Bird News from Nial Moores

In fairly steady weather, fairly slow birding for Baekryeong, with only 102 species logged in the first four days.  Highlights so far have included two Swinhoe’s White-eyes (at least on 19th), one Greater Spotted Eagle, 1-2 Chinese Nuthatch, two Chinese Grey Shrike, an early Japanese Waxwing (on 18th) and an extremely late Forest Wagtail (on 20th).

Although some regular species (like Yellow-browed Warbler and Rustic Bunting) have been present in more or less expected numbers, perhaps due in part to the weather usually abundant species like Olive-backed Pipit and Black-faced Bunting have proven to be remarkably scarce so far, and counts of formerly numerous species like Barn Swallow (day max. 20), Stejneger’s Stonechat (day max. of 3) and White Wagtail (day max. only 25) have also been much lower than would have been expected even ten years ago.

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus © Nial Moores
Globally Vulnerable Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica © Nial Moores
White Wagtails Motacilla alba ocularis © Nial Moores

On the 17th, the afternoon ferry from Incheon to Baekryeong produced two Eurasian Coot, 30 Streaked Shearwater, two Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel, eight Pomarine Jaeger, a single Ancient Murrelet, 1,895 Black-legged Kittiwake and rarest in the global context, 19 Finless Porpoise.

On the 18th, 79 species were logged in a small part of the island, and the best “bird that got away” was a possible Black Woodpigeon. Confirmed notable records for the day included single Chinese Egret, Greater Spotted Eagle, Chinese Grey Shrike, Bluethroat and Japanese Waxwing (latter heard only, close but out of view), with most numerous species (this day and in the days following) Brambling (2,000), Eastern Great Tit (450+), Coal Tit (350+), Eurasian Siskin (250), Light-vented Bulbul (105) and Hawfinch (100).

Chinese Grey Shrike Lanius sphenocercus © Nial Moores
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla © Nial Moores

On the 19th, two Swinhoe’s White-eye were seen well (ID requires good views, with these birds as expected showing all the relevant features listed in the Birds Korea ID note), and a Chinese Nuthatch was seen and heard moving west with a flock of tits.

Swinhoe’s White-eye Zosterops simplex © Nial Moores

On the 20th, a Water Rail sp was heard briefly, and the first three American Scoter of the winter were found close to shore.

On 21st highlights included up to five Japanese Grosbeak, a second Chinese Grey Shrike and a Little Owl heard in the evening. Notably. a nesting site for Temminck’s Cormorant and Mongolian Gull still held small numbers of birds of the year of both species, along with a few adults.

Temminck’s Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus © Nial Moores
1CY Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus © Nial Moores: yes, apparently southern-born gulls of the same species can progress more quickly than northern-born ones – but does it really make sense to anyone that southern born ones would be so far advanced, have different internal patterning on some plumage tracts, sound different and also exploit a different ecological niche?

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