Songdo: the shorebirds are coming

Bird News from Spike Millington, 25 March.

After a fly-by Oriental Stork at lunch on Saturday, I visited the Sorae mudflats at a pretty low high tide in the afternoon with Minseon Kim, Kwanmok Kim, Youngmin Kim (yes, a lot of Kims!) and Jonathan Green, visiting from Princeton University.

With the wintering Eurasian Curlew (400), Dunlin (600) and Grey Plover (50) were 35 Bar-tailed Godwits, mostly in orangey breeding plumage, 4 Great Knots and one Whimbrel. A couple of dogs put up the curlew flock revealing several Far Eastern Curlew. Apart from the Little Ringed Plovers, the first of which arrived two weeks ago and Kentish Plover, of which about 50 were running around the mudflats at Ahm-do last week, these were the first real shorebird migrants of the spring. In addition, Jonathan and the Kims had seen 20 Red-necked Stints earlier in the day at Ganghwa.

At Namdong Reservoir, scanning for Spoonbills was interrupted by 99 White-naped Cranes migrating over in a westerly direction in two flocks. Nine Black-faced Spoonbills were sleeping and preening on a small reed island, occasionally venturing out to feed. The first Spoonbills apparently arrived back on March 12th, a record early date. About 20 Grey Herons were also present. The usual duck were around, although numbers of Common Pochard were much lower.

On the newly reclaimed land by the university, a redhead Common Merganser was on the pools, 50 White Wagtails were on a drained pond (mostly leucopsis but some ocularis), while Eurasian Skylarks sang overhead. Eastern Oystercatchers were back on the reclamation, with Little Ringed Plovers, while about 100 Oystercatchers were on the mud, now rapidly being filled in.

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