Gageo Island, Shinan County, October 21-26

Selected Birding highlights from Nial Moores

Over 100 species recorded between October 21st and 26th, with 86 species recorded on October 24th (when both 1-Gu and 2-Gu were surveyed). In addition to high numbers of winter finches (e.g. 1,100 Eurasian Siskin and 90 Hawfinch on 24th and 650 Brambling and a Redpoll sp heard on 26th) selected highlights include:

Eurasian Coot: One on 25th and 26th. First island record?

Black Stork: One briefly on 22nd (also seen on 21st by a visiting film-crew). Apparently one was taken into care earlier this month (via Go Gyoung-nam).

White-tailed Eagle: An adult was in the harbour on 25th and 26th.

Great Spotted Woodpecker: Present daily with 2-4 in 1-Gu, and 12 counted in 1-Gu and 2-Gu on 24th. This species is not listed for Shinan County by Lee Gyung-Kyu and appears to be undergoing a decent-sized irruption this autumn. Subspecies appears to be japonicus, which breeds on the Korea Peninsula and adjacent regions.

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major, Gageo, October 2012 © Nial Moores/Birds Korea

Long-tailed Shrike: At least two and possibly three present in 1-Gu, and at least six counted on October 24th in 1-Gu and 2-Gu.
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach Gageo, October 24th © Nial Moores/Birds Korea

Yellow-bellied Tit: First noted on the 24th (a single), increasing to 25+ on 26th. This species was apparently previously unrecorded on Gageo.
Yellow-bellied Tit (in juvenile plumage) , Gageo, October 26th © Nial Moores/Birds Korea

Yellow-bellied Tit (in a slighly more advanced First-winter type plumage), Gageo, October 26th © Nial Moores/Birds Korea

Eastern Great Tit: Present in higher-than-average numbers, with 375 recorded on 24th when both 1-Gu and 2-Gu were surveyed. This total includes several small flocks seen heading out west to sea. The species is undergoing a fairly major irruption, as the maximum count of the species on the island during near-monthly survey in 2009/2010 was 20.

Eurasian Crag Martin: A probable was seen briefly in heavy rain on 22nd, mixed in with a flock of 180 Asian House Martin.

Long-tailed Tit: Five (subspecies magnus) were in 1-Gu on 24th. This is perhaps the first record for Gageo.

Siberian Chiffchaff: One was poorly photographed on 21st.

Siberian Chiffchaff, Phylloscopus (collybita) tristis Gageo, October 21st © Nial Moores/Birds Korea


White Wagtail: One of subspecies alboides (previously unrecorded in the ROK) or personata (perhaps two previous ROK records) was in a mixed group of wagtails at the 1-Gu rubbish dump on 22nd and 23rd. Prof. Per Alstrom has been contacted, and will likely help to confirm subspecific identification shortly…



White Wagtail Motacilla alba alboides or M.a.personata, Gageo, October 22nd-23rd © Nial Moores/Birds Korea


Black-headed Bunting: A very washed out First Calendar Year was found in 1-Gu on 22nd, and was glimpsed there again on 23rd. The same, or rather more likely a different (rather better coloured) individual was then found in 2-Gu on 24th. There are still probably fewer than 20 national records of this species, with most from Eocheong during northward migration.



Black-headed Bunting, Emberiza melanocephala Gageo, October 24th © Nial Moores/Birds Korea.

Identification from Red-headed was based on its large-looking, conical bill; the warmth in some of the upperpart tones (including on the scapulars and rump); the heaviness of the crown streaking; the presence of several darker streaks in the ear coverts; and the pale throat contrasting with otherwise yellow-washed underparts. Informed comments from those with much experience of these difficult taxa would still be most welcome, however!

2 comments on “Gageo Island, Shinan County, October 21-26

  1. Kindly received an e- mail today (October 29th) from Professor Per Alström (presently at the Chinese Academy of Sciences), who stated that:

    ” It seems unlikely to me that personata in winter would show so much dark markings on the mantle (perhaps never so much even in summer). For that reason, I believe it’s most likely a 1st-winter alboides.”

    Prof. Alström’s opinion therefore supports the initial (though tentative) identification of this wagtail as a First-winter alboides, based on its strikingly beautiful black and white appearance (in some ways recalling Japanese Wagtail) , and its heavily mottled-black scapulars and mantle (recalling lugens).

    Unless contradicted by other commentators/evidence, this becomes the first (?) record of the subspecies alboides for the ROK, and alboides will be added to the next (long overdue!) Birds Korea Checklist update.

    Thank you in advance for any further informed comments (either supporting or arguing against this identification) and/or links to images of both First-winter and Non-breeding adult personata and alboides from within their known wintering range…

  2. Pingback: A Winter to Remember – Here and Throughout The Region « Birds Korea Blog

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