Bird News from Nial Moores
Following the passage of Typhoon Samba about 150km to the west of Busan on 17th, much of the 18th was spent looking at the sea. Conditions were bright under occasional cloud, with a still moderate southerly wind, and visibility falling from 40km early on to 3-4km toward the evening.
During 8 hours of seawatching (between 07:35 and 15:30, and again between 17:15 and 17:45), there was evidence of a diverse range of species on the move, especially before 09:00. Outstanding highlight was a Brown Booby heading south at 09:30 (only my personal second in the ROK). Although occasionally present (and rarely, even numerous) in or near Fukuoka only 200km to the south, there are perhaps still fewer than 10 national records.
Possible “misses” included an apparently all dark petrel scoped for 1-2 minutes at a range of 1-2km in good light as it moved south-southeast at 07:55, at no time allowing a direct size comparison with any other species. Although possibly a Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel (the default ID in Korean waters), it appeared rather large, solid and very long-tailed (tail seemed to be held closed at all times, and from the side gave the bird a vaguely cuckoo-like profile at times). Moreover, a few times it showed an odd deeply bowed-wing flight, and one time even towered up suddenly 20-30m on bowed wings, before dropping down and resuming a steady flight low over the water – neither flight action recalling anything seen in many hundreds of encounters of Swinhoe’s Storm Petrel in a range of conditions from boats.
The other oddball was an all-brown, long-tailed shorebird with pale underwings through with a flock of Dunlin in the afternoon.
Day totals of more regular species south included c. 1170 Common Tern and one White-winged Tern; 68 large white-headed gulls of three species (including the first definite Vega Gulls of the autumn, with a single juvenile, a single 4CY and probably 10 adults; and a beautiful juvenile Taimyr Gull south with adults); 135 shorebirds (mostly Dunlin and Mongolian Plover, but including 10 Red Knot, at least 8 Pacific Golden Plover and single Great Knot and Far Eastern Curlew); and three species of duck (one Northern Shoveler, one Mallard and 10 or so Common Teal).
On land, other species of interest included single Western Osprey and Richard’s Pipit, a probable Arctic Warbler in with “Kamchatka Leaf Warblers” (based on differences in calls) and two Blue-and-White Flycatcher in addition to five Grey-streaked and two Asian Brown Flycatchers.