Songdo, January 5-6

Bird News from Spike Millington

On Saturday I thought I would try to overgrown area of Incheon Golf Course in the hope of connecting with Eurasian Bullfinch, which everyone seems to be seeing everywhere. This always a very birdy area and was alive with thrushes, at least 100, maybe twice that many, feeding on berries. Most were Naumann’s type but there were some adult Duskies and the usual intergrades. At one point a male Goshawk raced in, trying to surprise the birds (it surprised me!). There were many finches with 50 Hawfinches, 30 Bramblings and 20 Oriental Greenfinches, in addition to 3-4 Pallas’s and 6 Long-tailed Rosefinches. A group of 6 Bean Geese circled over and a Bull-headed Shrike was my first for a while. A male Daurian Redstart was trying to find food in the snow, as were a couple of Yellow-throated Bunting. A fat Grey-headed Woodpecker seemed to be having better luck in a dead tree. As for Bullfinches, not a peep!

Later in the morning I went over to the Sorae mudflats, now largely ice-bound. High tide was quite distant, but I estimated 600 Curlews and about the same number of Dunlin. There were quite a few interesting-looking gulls but just too far away to identify. The only close ones were 3 Common, 1 Black-headed and a feeding Saunder’s. The channel next to the new causeway had open water and many ducks were crammed in there. I counted 600 Pochard and 400 Shoveler, with 300 Mallard, 50 Pintail, 100 Common Shelducks, 5 Tufted Ducks, 2 Greater Scaup, 4 Goldeneye and 1 splendid drake Smew. A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers were fishing further out. 10 Grey Plover were feeding on the exposed mud with 30 Dunlin. Nearby Namdong Reservoir was almost completely frozen, but some Spot-billed Ducks and Common Teal were on the stream. More thrushes and another Daurian Redstart were in the berry bushes here, which were invaded by a large troop of 50 Vinous-throated Parrotbills. A couple of Eastern Buzzards waited hopefully along the reservoir edge. Along the edge of the park were a few Bramblings and Greenfinches and 5 Yellow-throated Buntings. Great, Coal and Marsh tits were in the pines, along with a Chinese Nuthatch. Most surprising were 2 Olive-backed Pipits bobbing along under the cypress hedge. I was surprised to see these birds in mid-December – I was even more surprised to see them today in these record low temperatures and snow cover.

On Sunday, a stroll around Michuhol Park, a small urban park, yielded groups of 6 and 4 Pallas’s Rosefinches, feeding on the seeds of an ornamental plant at the edge of the park. A Long-tailed Rosefinch was a park tick for me. Otherwise, it was the usual resident (at least in winter) Great, Coal and Varied Tits, 2-3 Chinese Nuthatches, 2 Naumann’s Thrushes and a Brambling.

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