Baengnyeong Island, May 23-31

Bird news from Nial Moores (with Shim Kyu-Sik and Song In-Sik on May 28th PM, 29th, and morning of 30th).

A total of 146 species were logged during the week, including a mix of local breeders (including globally Vulnerable Chinese Egret and globally Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill, and widespread Korean Bush Warblers), predictably late migrants (including some Critically Endangered Yellow-breasted and fast-declining Chestnut Buntings, all the “locusts” and several of the phylloscs), and a few tardy outliers.

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes 노랑부리백로 © Nial Moores.
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor 저어새 © Nial Moores.
Korean Bush Warbler Horornis borealis 휘파람새 © Nial Moores.
Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola 검은머리촉새 © Nial Moores.
Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila 꼬까참새 © Nial Moores.

Highlights by date included:

May 23rd. After an extremely bird-poor ferry journey, three hours in the northeast produced a single Purple Heron and Grey-headed Lapwing and an extremely late Eastern Buzzard, moving across the island with a small number of other raptors. In addition, a barking cuckoo was heard. Most frustrating was a probable Manchurian Reed Warbler heard calling, a slurred “tek” or agitated “tet”, then seen briefly largely against the light. The bird looked long-billed and long-tailed, with a dark brown brow (apparently not black – this feature seen in bright light for c. 5 seconds through binoculars) setting off a whiteish, perhaps slightly flared supercilium. The upperparts were pale milk chocolate brown; the rump was rather warm orangey-brown; the underparts were slightly warm brown, with the exception of a very pale throat. I managed just one out-of-focus digiscoped image before the bird flew into cover. Unfortunately, the bird did not respond obviously to playing of songs of Manchurian Reed or Paddyfield Warblers.

Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus 민댕기물떼새 © Nial Moores.
Probable Manchurian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus tangorum 우수리개개비 © Nial Moores. This extremely poor image appears to lend support to ID as a Manchurian Reed instead of the much more numerous Black-browed. The brow looks very dark, but appears to be brown-toned; the bill looks quite long and peaked, with more orange in it than expected in Black-browed; and the legs look pale, with darker feet/ toes. The globally Vulnerable Manchurian Reed Warbler is likely to be a rare but regular migrant through the ROK (and I have probably seen 10 or so here, mostly on Baengnyeong…). However, only one individual has been adequately documented – the first one, on Gageo Island back in October 2000).

See full checklist here

May 24th. Two Ruddy-breasted Crake were seen in the morning in the NE; and a male Black-winged Cuckooshrike was seen very briefly in the afternoon in the NW.

See full checklists here and here.

May 25th. A brief unsuccessful search was made for a loud singing thrush behind the Munhwa Motel; and  a probable Western Yellow Wagtail was heard and seen in flight in the NE in the morning.

See full checklists here and here.

May 26th. An extraordinary day in the southwest of the island in what superficially seemed rather unproductive weather conditions ahead of a major change in the weather. Outstanding highlight was a singing Chinese Bush Warbler, constituting the first adequately-documented national record of this super-skulker. This record follows on from a sight record of one on Baengnyeong on May 25th 2019. Other species included a single Mandarin Duck (personal first this year on the island) and more remarkably, single singing Black-winged Cuckooshrike and Baikal Bush Warbler and at least two Japanese Leaf Warblers.

Chinese Bush Warbler Locustella tacsanowskia 땅개개비 © Nial Moores.

See full checklist here.

May 27th. In the morning, the season’s first (and only) Black Drongo arrived in the NE just ahead of the start of 26 hours or so of unbroken rain, mixed with fog and moderate southerlies.  Together with Dr Shim Kyu-Sik and Mr Song In-Sik, a circuit of much of the island in very inclement weather produced little, beyond a flock of 15 Common Redshank in the Hwadong Wetland: an island high count.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus 붉은발도요 (May 24) © Nial Moores.

See full checklists here and here and here.

May 28th.  Even though it felt “quiet” and the weather remained rainy and foggy through the morning, coverage by car and short hikes of several of the better spots on the island produced a total of 95 species. This included at least two mystery thrushes singing before sunrise and at least six species of cuckoo (and in addition, one Barking Cuckoo heard).  Species of note included a male and female Falcated Duck in the Hwadong Wetland; the second Large Hawk-cuckoo and the first Himalayan Swift of the spring in the NW; a group of five alba Great Egrets; one unidentified martin and later at least one Siberian House Martin and 16 Asian House Martin together; a single Baikal Bush and two Japanese Leaf Warblers; and a very late Japanese Waxwing.

Northern Hawk-cuckoo Hierococcyx hyperythrus 매사촌 © Nial Moores.
Siberian House Martin Delichon lagopodum 흰머리직박구리 (top left) and Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus 흰털발제비 (bottom right) © Song In-Sik 송인식.

See full checklist here.

May 29th.  Highlights included single Baikal Bush Warbler, four singing Gray’s Grasshopper Warblers and 2-4 Japanese Leaf Warblers in the Southwest in the morning and a White-breasted Waterhen seen in the NW by S I-K.

See full checklist here.

May 30th.  Another unexpectedly interesting day in the NE, with 76 species logged. First up, finally!, was the confirmation of the mystery singing thrushes as Chinese Blackbird; followed by a reasonable late spring pulse of visible migration. Most numerous was Pacific Swift, with at least 400 (and perhaps >600) logged, with additional notable counts including 15 White-throated Needletails and 36 Chinese Sparrowhawk. Additional species of note included two Amur Falcon, single Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Paradise Flycatcher sp. (presumably Black, based on relative abundance / rarity), and very late Brambling and Hawfinch.

Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis 붉은배새매 © Nial Moores.
Amur Falcon Falco amurensis 비둘기조롱이 © Nial Moores.

See full checklist here.

May 31st. A final morning in the NE, with 60 species logged. Highlights included at least 3 Chinese Blackbird, two Grey-headed Lapwing together, and four species of “locust” warblers, including three Gray’s Grasshopper and a single Baikal Bush Warbler (both of which much scarcer in the east of the island than in the west of it). 

Chinese Blackbird Turdus mandarinus 대륙검은지빠귀: image above and song recording below © Nial Moores.

See full checklist here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.