Eocheong Island, April 22-28

April 28, Eocheong Island
Under clear skies, an afternoon survey of the main southern part of the island with Mr. Ju Yung-Ki produced 63 species, with the personal first Narcissus Flycatcher and Northern House Martin of the spring, three Eurasian Wryneck, a glimpse of the Little Whimbrel, excellent views of a White’s Thrush and a Chinese Blackbird, and best of all a Grey-tailed Tattler sporting two blue leg-flags (one each on the tibia and tarsus of the right leg), and a metal ring on the left tibia – perhaps the first banded bird seen here since a (probably Hong Kong-banded) White-shouldered Starling in 2003 or 2004.


Chinese Blackbird Turdus merula mandarinus. Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea


April 27, Eocheong Island
The promised rain failed to materialise (again) and a foggy, yellow dusty morning cleared to sunshine for much of the rest of the day. Many fewer birds than on the 26th, though several more new species for the spring including a Long-toed Stint (possibly the bird heard arriving last night?), two Grey Thrush and three Chinese Blackbird (making for an eight-thrush-species day), and a flock of ten starlings containing several White-Cheekeds, a Red-billed, two Daurian and two White-shouldered Starlings (male and female) – all sadly when still too murky to even attempt digiscoping. Other species of note included at least two Citrine Wagtail still and the first bird of the morning seen over the minbak – a Little Whimbrel (probably the same as one heard yesterday) which was later re-found by the school.


Little Whimbrel Numenius minutus. Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea


April 26, Eocheong Island
Finally, a big day – and a long one, starting before dawn and finishing a little before midnight! 97 species and 3500 birds logged. With a heavy overcast, occasional rain spots (but no heavy rain as promised) and strong SW winds, several species were heard coming in from before first light, and this movement continued for a couple of hours in the morning. Between 0610 and 0750, at least 2150 passerines were counted coming in off the sea from the southwest, with most numerous Dusky Thrush (840), Pale Thrush (330), Brambling (240) and Grey-backed Thrush (155). Many of these (except Brambling) appeared to carry on northeast towards Weiyeon Island, (where a team of overseas birders should have just arrived for a week or more). Shortly after, the most abundant grounded species on Eocheong Island itself included Brambling (220), Black-faced Bunting (162) and Yellow-browed Bunting (70), while the most unusual was a female-type Blue-and-White Flycatcher with clear bright blue on the wing coverts, just visible in the very grimy image (does anyone know if this is a feature regularly shown by e.g. older females?). Further species of note included several Latham’s Snipe (and several Swinhoe’s, Common and Pin-taileds as well as snipes sp!), two Citrine Wagtail and two Hume’s Leaf Warbler, and a total of 15 or 16 personal firsts for the spring, including single Chinese Egret, Yellow-breasted Bunting and Bluethroat – the last species to be found late in the evening. With fog banks and clearing skies, there were still plenty of birds calling after dark, however, including a Grey Nightjar – and these calls seemed to increase between 10PM and midnight.
An hour of listening and sound-recording around the harbour at that time produced at least 20 species, mostly thrushes (several Eye-broweds perhaps in with many definite Grey-backed, Pale and Dusky) and shorebirds (including several Grey-tailed Tattler and Terek Sandpiper, single Oriental Pratincole, curlew sp and a stint, perhaps Long-toed?). Other nocturnal odds and ends on the move also included four species of bunting and e.g. single Brambling, Siskin and Eastern Yellow Wagtail.


Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
. Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea


Female Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana
. Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea


April 24 & 25, Eocheong Island
Still rather quiet for the time of year, with between only 500 and 600 birds both days, 60 species on the 24th and 57 on the 25th; and the only firsts of the spring being Ashy Minivet (1), Greater Short-toed Lark (2), Chinese Pond Heron (2) and Hume’s Leaf Warbler (1).

April 23, Eocheong Island
A very quiet morning despite the addition of a couple of rooms full of birders, with the best birds all in the evening: a Japanese Waxwing, two Oriental Pratincole and the personal first Eastern Cattle Egret of the spring. Further interest was also provided by a puzzling alba Wagtail showing more black on the head than might be expected in ocularis (perhaps a lugens x ocularis intergrade?).


Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica. Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea


April 22, Eocheong Island
Light rain through the morning failed on this occasion to produce a decent fall, either because of the dense fog or perhaps the excessive noise and disturbance this day. Best was a Little Whimbrel low over the main street, and also new for this island’s spring single Common Greenshank, Whimbrel and Richard’s Pipit.


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