Mara-do, July 10

Bird News from Leslie Hurteau

A Saturday morning in Mid-July was spent on a trip to Mara-do to see the Styan’s Grasshopper Warblers. The ferry ride was relatively smooth, with cloudy weather and little wind. A small group of Streaked Shearwaters were seen en route to the island, but otherwise fairly quiet birdwise.

Shortly after arriving, I heard the distinctive songs of the Styan’s Grasshopper Warblers, which to me sounds like a laser gun sound effect from a Retro Sci-Fi movie. It took a while to get a visual, but once I did it was simple to find more. They seem to like hanging around the tops of shrubs when singing.

Styan’s Grasshopper Warbler Helopsaltes pleskei 섬개개비 © Leslie Hurteau
Styan’s Grasshopper Warbler Helopsaltes pleskei 섬개개비 © Leslie Hurteau

Other than the Grasshopper Warblers, large groups of Pacific Swifts and Barn Swallows flying about through the sky, especially near the southeastern point. The resident Oriental Magpies and Eurasian Tree Sparrows were present, and a lone Great Egret circling the island, perhaps getting flushed by fishermen on the rocks. I did see one rather interesting mystery bird fly past very briefly from one group of trees to another, but I could not relocate it. Hopefully I can try for that one again on a future visit.

Pacific Swift Apus pacificus 칼새 © Leslie Hurteau

Feeling satisfied with finding the Styan’s Grasshopper Warblers (a lifer), I embarked on the return ferry. While watching the sea and finding more Streaked Shearwaters, something very unusual flew by. A Brown Booby! Luckily I was geared up ready to take photos so I was able to grab a few record shots. It was a very lucky sighting. Brown Boobies are sometimes seen off the south coast of Korea, particularly in the south coast of Jeju Island. Coincidentally, a Masked Booby was found on the same day in on the mainland in Gyeongsangnam-do (link here). What else will be found on the seas this summer?

Brown Booby Sula leucogaster 갈색얼가니새 © Leslie Hurteau
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster 갈색얼가니새 © Leslie Hurteau

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