Geoje-do, December 29

Bird news from Matt Poll

A heavy snowfall overnight painted a bright new landscape around my local patch, and there was plenty of interesting bird activity, with close to 60 species seen. I saw a few personal Geoje firsts, some unexpected birds, and a lot of the birds seemed to be acting edgy and strange because of the snow. ‘Hungrier’ all of a sudden, maybe. I was stunned to see a Bull-headed Shrike locked in a life-or-death dogfight with a bite-sized Winter Wren, and they flew around me at close range before vanishing behind a group of trees. Also acting uncharacteristically aggressive was a reddish Eastern Buzzard that was actively cruising the fields at low level, perhaps taking advantage of how visible small birds were against the snow.
Most of the action was going on in a scrubby/reedy corner of a large set of fields. Two Little Buntings (a personal Geoje first) were confiding in a ditch, while a Zitting Cisticola and Pallas’s Reed Bunting were a lot less open, skulking in the reeds. A group of 25 Skylarks, not usually seen on this side of the island, shimmered nervously through the fields as a Northern Goshawk, Eastern Buzzard, and Eurasian Kestrel took turns making low passes over the field. Also in the fields, a flock of close to 30 Chinese Penduline Tits, dozens of Buff-bellied and Olive-backed Pipits, and perhaps six Common Snipe.
On the mountain trails, several Hawfinch (also a personal Geoje first), a confiding male Red-flanked Bluetail and later at least a half-dozen females. I also ran into the resident small flock of Eurasian Bullfinch, made up of five females, a male rosacea, and a male ‘griseiventris-type’, which I photographed earlier in the week.
The nearby canals and especially the harbour were teeming with winter bird activity. Common and Black-headed Gulls outnumbered Black-tailed Gulls where the canal meets the harbour, and at least a hundred Great Crested Grebe formed loose rafts further out. Also on the harbour, about 60 Common Pochard, and a handful of Greater Scaup, Tufted Duck, and Common Goldeneye.

Snow on Geoje. Photo © Matt Poll.

Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla. Photo © Matt Poll.

Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus. Photo © Matt Poll.

Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula. Photo © Matt Poll.

2 comments on “Geoje-do, December 29

  1. Great stuff!! I’m happy you’ve been able to really find the birds on your home turf. Hopefully, I’ll see you soon and we can find some good bird life together. Happy New Year!!

  2. Thanks Brad, it was a magic day in the snow! I went back yesterday, and most of the snow was gone, and the birds went with it! Let’s see if this cold snap brings some birds in! I’m leaving in a week, so we’ll have to catch up a bit further on down the road.
    PS thanks again for being the best chauffer ever on that pelagic!

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