East Coast of Jeju Island, March 19

Bird news from Leslie Hurteau

A belated post on a fine day of birding on the east coast of Jeju Island on March 19th. The weather was rather stormy for most of the day, until clearing up a bit in late afternoon. The day started driving along the north coast heading east, making stops along spots that looked interesting on the map, as well as key points visiting previously in the winter.

Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 바다비오리, a fairly regular winter visitor to Jeju. © Leslie Hurteau
Taimyr Gull Larus heuglini taimyrensis 줄무늬노랑발갈매기, relatively common on Jeju coasts in the winter. © Leslie Hurteau
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus 흰갈매기, looking particularly pale and ready to move north. © Leslie Hurteau

A stop near Sehwa had the first interesting bird of the day, a Glaucous Gull, which was found when scanning a large group of gulls. This was one of two individuals recorded on Jeju this winter, with the other on the southwest coast. Other birds of interest were Red-breasted Mergansers, Pelagic Cormorants, and many ducks such as Northern Pintails, Gadwalls, Eurasian Wigeons, and Falcated Ducks, the latter of which was particularly common on Jeju this winter. Before leaving, a Carrion Crow was seen perched on a post. This species is nowhere near as common on Jeju as the Large-billed Crow, and appears to be quite localised in certain areas of the island.

Carrion Crow Corvus corone 까마귀, generally only found in certain areas on Jeju, and perhaps easily confused with Large-billed Crows and Rooks in the winter. © Leslie Hurteau
Leucistic Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha 흰뺨검둥오리 in the foreground, and an Eastern Spot-billed x Mallard hybrid in the background. © Leslie Hurteau
Grey Herons Ardea cinerea 왜가리 sheltering from strong winds. © Leslie Hurteau

Seongsan wetland was the next stop, where many ducks were still remaining. Barn Swallows and Buff-bellied Pipits were seen in the canola fields adjacent to the wetlands, and large groups of ducks including Eastern Spot-billed Ducks, Mallards, Eurasian Green-winged Teals, Eurasian Wigeons, Northern Pintails, Falcated Ducks, Tufted Ducks, and Common Pochards. In among the Common Pochards in a quieter part of the wetland was a female Canvasback previously reported in this area. Along the nearby coast was an Arctic Loon, a species that was somewhat hard to find this winter along the coasts of Jeju. Aside from the Canvasback, the highlight bird of this area was a Caspian Tern that had been seen on Jeju since November 2021.

Seongsan Wetland eBird Checklist

Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica 제비 show up rather early on Jeju compared to the rest of Korea. © Leslie Hurteau
Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens japonicus 밭종다리 © Leslie Hurteau
Falcated Duck Mareca falcata 청머리오리 © Leslie Hurteau

The next and final stop was Hado wetland, possibly one of the best spots for birdwatching on Jeju throughout the year (with winter being the best time). Within five minutes of arriving I had found what I came for, an adult Greater Spotted Eagle. It came flying in following an Eastern Buzzard. I was very fortunate to get nice long views for a few minutes as it soared over the wetland, almost as if it knew how many times I tried finding it this past winter. In addition to the eagle, other highlights were Osprey, plenty of ducks (similar species as Seongsan) including a couple spot-billed x mallard hybrids, and three Bar-tailed Godwits that flew in just as I was leaving.

Hado Wetland eBird Checklist

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia 붉은부리큰제비갈매기 resting on a rock with several ducks and cormorants. © Leslie Hurteau
Caspian Tern taking flight after I accidentally flushed it. Thankfully it returned to its original spot shortly after. © Leslie Hurteau
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga 항라머리검독수리 © Leslie Hurteau

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