Bird News by Subhojit Chakladar with Jason Loghry
The second consecutive week searching for Locustella warblers ended in failure but the effort turned up some pleasant surprises, including as many as 5 lifers for me. Weiyon-do is a delightful little island and even though bird numbers were not as impressive as at the heights of the spring migration, it was still a wonderful experience to bird on a hiking trail without the endless column of nattily dressed hikers (who are impossible to avoid on the mainland).
The ferry ride was uneventful even though some other birders claimed to have seen a single Short-tailed Shearwater. Once on the island, we dropped off our bags at the minbak and got into action immediately. The next few hours, we searched in vain for Locustella warblers. Even though we got a few glimpses of warblers in bamboo thickets, their ID could not be confirmed. The only highlight of those first few hours was a female Amur Falcon. Things began to change after about 3pm as I was crawling though grass in search of cuckoo like bird with brown plumage on the back. I found a dead Narcissus Flycatcher in front of me as a Japanese Bush Warbler emerged in front of me. Later hiking along the western part of the island, we found Pale Thrushes, Arctic and Yellow-browed warblers, Shrikes (Tiger, Bull-headed and Brown) and Pacific Swifts amongst other more commonly occurring birds. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the Japanese Night Heron at the temple. We spent close to 1 hour searching for it in the trees around the temple before finally getting a series of rather dark images of the bird (which upon processing revealed the identity of the bird). Close to sundown, a group of migrants arrived on the island including a couple of Yellow-rumped flycatcher, Chinese Grosbeaks and Arctic Warblers.
The morning was quite foggy and visibility over the sea was rather limited. The new arrivals included a Red-billed Starling. Once again, we searched for the Locustella Warblers but to no avail. Instead we found the Chinese Pond Heron that eluded us the previous day. Close to the feeding ground of the Japanese Night Heron previously observed by Dr. Moores, we found singing Japanese Bush Warblers and Oriental Reed Warblers (both of which gave prolonged views and photos). The area around the temple produced the nesting pair of Black Paradise Flycatcher. After spending about half an hour in wait for them, we managed to get some decent shots of the gorgeous male as well as good looks on the female. Later in the day, a group of Japanese White Eyes were seen and photographed on the hiking trails of the eastern part of the island.
Other species of note include Eyebrowed Thrush (JPL only), female Mugimaki Flycatchers, at least one Lesser Cuckoo (heard only), Grey Wagtail, Grey-streaked, Dark-sided, and Asian Brown Flycatchers, Richard’s Pipit and a Chestnut-eared Bunting (SC only).
Interestingly on the return ferry, a pastor showed us the images of a injured immature Long-Eared Owl which eventually died. He claims that the parents of this particular bird that he found about 3 years ago, still live on the island. This might indicate that there is (or at least used to be) a breeding population on the island. However this would require a more detailed survey of the island.