Seochong-do, September 30 – October 3

Bird news by Subhojit Chakladar

I set out for Seochong-do with lots of hope and a bit of trepidation. Having planned to spend the entire 3 hour journey on the deck looking out for seabirds, my hopes were quickly dashed as the boat authorities informed me that was not permitted due to safety reasons. Looking at the sea through a salt stained window wasn’t my idea of perfect autumn pelagic and I dozed off a result. Luckily, we were allowed to go out on the deck for about 15 minutes. Within minutes I spotted the first Pomarine Skua at a distance. I ran back to grab my camera. During the remaining time on the deck under pretty windy conditions, I encountered around 10 more of them and 2 separate flocks of Streaked Shearwaters with a conservative estimate of about 200+ birds in total. The stay in Seochong-do and the ferry journey produced a total of 55 species (based only on visual observation and photographic record)

September 30th

Birding and especially photographing them in autumn is considerably more tricky than in spring. I learned it the hard way on the 1st day. The shifting clouds made it especially tricky to photograph the raptors. Highlights of the day include the migrating Oriental Honey-buzzards (~25), a probable Pallas’s Leaf Warbler in the lighthouse gully. North Point was strangely quite that afternoon except for 3 Black Faced Buntings and a single Olive Backed Pipit.

October 1st

With clear blue skies and a moderate wind, it was a perfect day to be outdoors. Early in the morning walking towards the lighthouse, I encountered Chinese Grosbeak (~6), a single female Japanese Grosbeak and a Grey Faced Buzzard. The lighthouse gully was alive with activity. A male Blue and White Flycatcher, a flock of around 30 Eastern Great Tits, similar numbers of Varied Tits, more than 50 Yellow Browed Warblers. This also attracted a Hobby and a Chinese Sparrowhawk. At the lower part of the gully, I also encountered 2 Radde’s Warbler, a single Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and more Black Faced Buntings. At around 9am, more raptors appeared including a Black Kite and an Osprey. The highlight of the trip came later in the day in quick succession. At first a flock of atleast 12 Yellow Bellied Tits mixed with a similar sized flock of Eastern Great Tits and a few Coal Tits. Then a pair of Chinese Nuthatches. Later during the day, accompanied by another Korean birder, we found more Yellow Bellied Tits and 2 Chestnut Flanked White-eyes. Light Vented Bulbuls were encountered near the fish farm area.

October 2nd

Starting before sunrise at North Point, the highlight include a female Pine Bunting, about 6~7 Chinese Nuthatches, 3 Meadow Buntings. Later in the morning at the lighthouse gully, more movement of passerines was observed. There were a few Dusky Warblers, 2 Common Rosefinches, a female Mugimaki Flycatcher. 40+ Oriental Honey Buzzards and many more Red-rumped Swallows were also seen in the sky. The stream at the 2nd village produced a White’s Thrush.

October 3rd

The morning ferry back to Incheon was quite productive. The highlights include 3 Flesh-footed Shearwaters and 6 Pomarine Skuas (including 1 dark morph individual)

Chinese Nuthatch, <em>Sitta villosa</em> © Subhojit ChakladarYellow-bellied Tit, <em>Periparus venustulus</em> © Subhojit ChakladarChestnut-flanked White-eye, <em>Zosterops erythropleurus</em> © Subhojit Chakladar



3 comments on “Seochong-do, September 30 – October 3

  1. Congratulations on some excellent species and some great images – especially so eary in the autumn (your and Dr Shim’s Pine Bunting record for example is probably 2 weeks or more earlier than “usual”) While it has been clear for more than a month now that Varied Tits are undergoing a mass irruption (including here and in Japan, with several records in China, including the first for Hong Kong!), it is perhaps only since late Sep-early Oct that both Yellow-bellied Tit and Chinese Nuthatch have also started to move (incidentally, your flock of Yellow-bellieds is the largest I have heard of here in the ROK, while the estimate of 15-20 or so Chinese Nuthatch that weekend is also presumably a new national high count! And both flocks were earlier than the peak of numbers might be expected too…). Perhaps less spectacular but intriguing all the same is your record of Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker: as far as I know, this is a first for Socheong (unless you have heard otherwise?). This is pretty wonderful – as the island list already stood at about 335 by mid-2010! Interestingly too, last week we also saw one Japanese Pygmy on Namu Seom offshore from Busan. This is a species that very seldom makes it to offshore islands…Is this another species on the move this autumn?

    • Thank you Dr Moores. Yellow bellied Tits was a lifer for me and at first I just enjoyed looking at them. Only after Dr Shim had pointed it out, I realized how lucky I was to see that flock. Pygmy woodpecker is a bird that I encounter quite frequently on the mainland but now that you mention about it, I don’t recall having read about it in any previous accounts from Seochong.

  2. Pingback: Varied Tit, Chinese Nuthatch and Yellow-bellied Tit: what else is on the move? « Birds Korea Blog

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