Baekryeong Island, January 17th-20th

Bird News from Nial Moores & Bernhard Seliger, Kim Choony (National KFEM), Shim Hyeong Jin (Incheon KFEM), Choi Hyun-Ah and Trevor Rose

A return trip to Baekryeong in continuing unseasonably mild weather (with overnight lows close to zero, and highs reaching 7 or 8C, with only an hour of snow and sleet), for on-island meetings kindly arranged by Minister Kim Ju Seong, and the installation for the first time of frog ladders designed in the UK and crafted on site by Trevor Rose (Rose Design Services Ltd) as part of the Lush-funded Baekryeong Wetlands Project – much more of which will be detailed in subsequent posts.

Thanks to funding support kindly provided by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Korea office) two full days could be spent in the field on 18th and 19th with an hour or two of observations also made on 17th and 19th. In total, we recorded a total of 89 bird taxa / species, with the most notable highlights in the Korean context being a group of five Snow Geese (first record on the island known to us, bringing the total to c. 353 species logged on here since March 2013) and the long-staying Common Crane still. Although no Oriental Stork were found,  species of global conservation concern include included four Horned Grebe (VU), a single Greater Spotted Eagle (VU) and 235 Rustic Bunting (VU), most of which were in a single flock; and single Japanese Waxwing (NT) heard and three Ochre-rumped Bunting (NT) seen.

Group of five First-winter Snow Goose Anser caerulescens with Taiga Bean Geese, Tundra Bean Geese and a Greater White-fronted Goose, top © Nial Moores, and below, in flight with Tundra Bean Geese © Bernhard Seliger.
Common Crane Grus grus © Nial Moores

Typical winter species on the island included c. 1650 “bean geese”, probably all but a 100 of which were Tundra Bean; >5,000 dabbling duck, with 2784 Eastern Spot-billed Duck and 2274 Mallard counted;  small numbers of two species of scoter and three species of sawbill, with Red-breasted Merganser marginally the commonest of these; 460 Rook, ten Daurian Jackdaw and a single Carrion Crow; c. 120 skylarks (most of which appeared to be Eurasian Skylark); at least 47 Naumann’s Thrush and one early returning Dusky Thrush (is it spring already?); small numbers of finches, including 109 Hawfinch and 17 Long-tailed Rosefinch; and eight species of bunting, of which Rustic were the commonest followed by Meadow (51), Yellow-throated (49), Pallas’s Reed (31) and Little Bunting (12).

Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator © Nial Moores
Naumann’s Thrush Turdus naumanni © Nial Moores
Long-tailed Rosefinch Carpodacus sibiricus © Nial Moores
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides © Bernhard Seliger
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans © Nial Moores
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla © Bernhard Seliger

Further interesting observations in the Korean context included probably two Upland Buzzard (and 23 Eastern Buzzard), displaying Mongolian Gull, single Little Owl heard and presumed Long-eared Owl seen in flight before dawn, two Chinese Grey Shrike,  146 Light-vented Bulbul and a single over-wintering Blue Rock Thrush.

Various Mongolian Gulls Larus mongolicus giving long display calls © Nial Moores

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