Igidae (Busan), April 17-18

Bird News from Nial Moores

Two full-days in the field in the local Igidae Park – which despite all the noise and disturbance can be surprisingly birdy in the right conditions. The park, several hundred hectares in area, occupies a narrow strip of hilly coastal pine and patches of broadleaved evergreen forest, much criss-crossed by roads and tracks. There is a small area of more open parkland at the south of the park (near the SK apartments), useful for visible migration counts. In mid-April best conditions have long been suspected to include overnight rain with south-easterlies when migrants heading towards Japan might be drifted to the Busan coast. On 17th and 18th weather seemed ideal. Following overcast conditions overnight on 16th / 17th, a few hours of light rain between 1AM and 5AM with moderate south-easterly winds followed on the 17th (with temperatures struggling to reach 14-15C). It remained overcast through the day and the night of 17th / 18th, until about 9AM on 18th, when long sunny periods and milder temperatures (perhaps 16-17C) persisted, to be replaced by overcast conditions in the late afternoon. Winds were light on 18th and from the northwest, becoming moderate again in the evening.

Among a total of 84 species, outstanding highlights included singing Sakhalin Leaf Warbler on both dates (due to the identification challenge probably <10 previous national records, with these perhaps the first mainland records?); single Yellow Bunting and Greater Short-toed Lark on 17th (presumably both very scarcely-recorded in Busan or anywhere on the mainland); and several migrant landbirds much more typical of Japan and south-western island than mainland ROK (Japanese Robin, Brown-headed and Grey Thrushes, Chestnut-cheeked Starling etc). The total also included a dozen “personal first for the year”. Based on a comparison with personal survey coverage on the south-western island of Gageo in 2009 and on the north-western island of Socheong in 2010 (when near-daily coverage) none of these dates seem exceptionally early or late.

In order to help get a sense of turnover and relative abundance, all migrants on 17th and all birds (irrespective of distance, seen or heard) were counted on 18th. Not all the park was covered (though most of the usual good areas were, both days) and there was some difference in extra areas covered on 17th and 18th. In a few cases these counts also might be quite inaccurate, e.g. Vinous-throated Parrotbill (for obvious reasons to those who know these feathered bundles of energy!). However, to help ease comparisons with other sites (in the ROK and elsewhere – e.g. in Japan as on the Kantori Listerver, or in China as often included on Birding Beijing and by Tom Beeke in Liaoning) the full list and the counts are given below:

  1. Common Pheasant: Nine counted (18th).
  2. Eurasian Wigeon: One (18th).
  3. Black-crowned Night Heron: One plus heard (18th)
  4. Grey Heron: Seven, including five very high up, apparently moving SE towards Teima Island (Tsushima) (18th).
  5. Temminck’s Cormorant: c. 50 still at the evening roost (both days).
  6. Japanese Sparrowhawk: One (17th & 18th).
  7. Black Kite: One adult.
  8. Grey-faced Buzzard: Two (18th)
  9. Upland Buzzard: One (17th): an apparently exceptionally late individual, seldom reported in April.
  10. Common Kestrel: One (17th)
  11. Peregrine Falcon: One (17th)
  12. Black-headed Gull: 30 counted on 18th.
  13. Black-tailed Gull: c. 25 both days
  14. Vega Gull: c. 150 on 17th, most of which were heading south along the coast; many fewer (<10) on 18th.
  15. Taimyr Gull: At least one adult on 17th.
  16. Oriental Turtle Dove: 18 counted on 18th
  17. Oriental Cuckoo: One seen near the park at dawn on 17th; one heard in the park 18th. This was a personal first of the year (and a personal first in Busan). This species seems to be an earlier migrant through the south than through the northwest (e.g. first record in 2009 on Gageo was on April 18th, and in 2010 on Socheong was April 29th).
  18. Oriental Scops Owl: One heard on 18th (personal first of the year and personal first for Igidae). This species is much commoner northward in the ROK. In 2010, first-recorded on Socheong on April 16th; and this year apparently first-recorded in Beijing on 16th (http://birdingbeijing.com/).
  19. Pacific Swift: 15+ present in usual area on 18th.
  20. Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker: Seventeen counted on 18th.
  21. White-backed Woodpecker: Three on 17th (including a male and female together) and two on 18th (including a male chasing off a Great-Spotted Woodpecker).
  22. Great Spotted Woodpecker: One on 18th.
  23. Grey-headed Green Woodpecker: Three counted on 18th.
  24. Ashy Minivet: Twenty on 17th and 15 on 18th.
  25. Bull-headed Shrike: One on 17th and two on 18th.
  26. Eurasian Jay: Nine counted on 18th.
  27. Eurasian Magpie: Thirty-five counted on 18th.
  28. Large-billed Crow: Thirty-three counted on 18th.
  29. Marsh Tit: Two counted on 18th.
  30. Varied Tit: Four counted on 18th.
  31. Coal Tit: Twenty-two counted on 18th.
  32. Eastern Great Tit: Forty-four counted on 18th.
  33. Greater Short-toed Lark: One on 17th, heard and seen in flight only. Personal first record in Busan – and while expected on offshore islands in the West Sea there appear to be very few mainland records.
  34. Brown-eared Bulbul: Ninety-one “counted” on 18th.
  35. Barn Swallow: Six on 17th and nine on 18th.
  36. Asian House Martin: Three on 18th.
  37. Red-rumped Swallow: Five on 18th.
  38. Japanese Bush Warbler: One on 17th and three on 18th (all singing birds);
  39. Korean Bush Warbler: Three singing on 17th and 18th.
  40. Asian Stubtail: Eleven on 17th and 10 on 18th.
  41. Long-tailed Tit: Sixteen counted on 18th.
  42. Pallas’s Leaf Warbler: One on 17th. This species is very scarce in the southeast, and is much commoner towards the northwest, peaking in late April-early May. On Socheong in 2010, first recorded on April 8th; in 2013, first seen in Song Do, Incheon, on April 12th: see https://www.birdskoreablog.org/?p=8281.
  43. Yellow-browed Warbler: Three on 17th and 14 on 18th (personal highest count in Busan).
  44. Pale-legged Leaf Warbler: One recorded singing on 18th.
    Listen to a recording of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler:


  45. Sakhalin Leaf Warbler: Two or three singing on 17th (one sound-recorded); one sound-recorded singing on 18th (thin see-sawing song was distant and almost drowned out by Brown-eared Bulbuls). Presumed to be (among ) the first adequately-documented records on the ROK mainland – although presumably much overlooked as several records from south-western islands of the ROK and used also to be regular in April in Fukuoka in the 1990s (pers. obs.).
    Listen to a recording of the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler:


  • Sakhalin/Pale-legged Leaf: Two heard calling on both days.
  1. Eastern Crowned Warbler: Seven on 17th and nine on 18th.
  2. Vinous-throated Parrotbill: A total of 172 “counted” on 18th.
  3. Japanese White-eye: Thirty-three counted on 18th.
  4. Goldcrest: Eighteen on 17th and 31 on 18th.
  5. Eurasian Wren: Six counted on 18th.
  6. Red-billed Starling: One on 17th and probably the same individual seen very poorly on 18th.
  7. Chestnut-cheeked Starling: Five on 17th.
  8. White’s Thrush: Two on 17th and four on 18th.
  9. Grey-backed Thrush: Ten on 17th and eight on 18th.
  10. Grey Thrush: Four on 17th and five on 18th.
  11. Eye-browed Thrush: Two (heard only) on 17th. This is a very scarce species through the south and south-east of the country, much commoner across the “Northern Crossing” (Shandong-Liaoning/Hwanghaenam/Incheon). First recorded in 2009 on Gageo on April 21st, and in 2010 on Socheong also on April 21st.
  12. Pale Thrush: A total of 163 on 17th but only 69 on 18th. On both dates, an exceptional-looking individual was present in the same area. As can be seen in images, this bird had a striking face-pattern (with initial impression from head-on views recalling Eye-browed Thush), mottled grey and brown underparts, and still clean white tips to the greater coverts (usually only so clearly visible in the first calendar-year).

    Exceptional-looking Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus, Photo © Nial Moores


    Exceptional-looking Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus, Photo © Nial Moores


    Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus, Photo © Nial Moores


  14. Brown-headed Thrush: Five on 17th and one on 18th.
  15. Dusky Thrush: Six on 17th and three on 18th.
  16. Japanese Robin: Two (one heard singing; one seen well) on 17th.
  • Bluethroat: One possible in the evening of the 18th (seen very briefly).
  1. Siberian Blue Robin: Four on 17th and one on 18th.
  2. Red-flanked Bluetail: Forty-two on 17th and 23 on 18th.
  3. Daurian Redstart: Five on 17th and six on 18th.
  4. Stejneger’s Stonechat: Three on 17th and four on 18th.
  5. Blue Rock Thrush: Six counted on 18th.
  6. Asian Brown Flycatcher: Five on 17th and one on 18th. In 2009, first-recorded on Gageo Island on April 17th; and on Socheong Island in 2010 on April 21st.
  7. Yellow-rumped Flycatcher: One heard on 18th was the personal first of the year. In 2009, first-recorded on Gageo island on April 18th and in 2010 first-recorded on Socheong Island on April 20th.
  8. Narcissus Flycatcher: Four on 17th and six on 18th.
  9. Blue-and-White Flycatcher: Two on 17th and 14 on 18th (mostly nominate males with probably two intermedia males and two females).

    Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana, Photo © Nial Moores


  11. Russet Sparrow: One heard on 18th.
  12. Eurasian Tree Sparrow: About 20 counted on 18th.
  13. Grey Wagtail: Three on 17th and six on 18th.
  14. White Wagtail: Two on 17th and three on 18th.
  15. Olive-backed Pipit: Four on 17th and seven on 18th (all in areas where birds overwintered: therefore perhaps over-winterers rather than fresh-in migrants).
  16. Buff-bellied Pipit: One on 17th and two on 18th.
  17. Brambling: Eight on 17th and 25 on 18th.
  18. Hawfinch: Two on 17th.
  19. Grey-capped Greenfinch: Fifteen counted on 18th.
  20. Eurasian Siskin: Sixty on 17th and 83 on 18th.
  21. Tristram’s Bunting: Three on 17th and two on 18th.
  22. Yellow-throated Bunting: Twenty-seven counted on 18th.

    Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans, Photo © Nial Moores


  24. Yellow Bunting: One on 17th near the SK apartments( poorly digiscoped).

    Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata, Photo © Nial Moores


  26. Black-faced Bunting: Five on 17th (including three personata) and five on 18th (including one personata).
  27. Grey Bunting: One heard on 17th.

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