Bird News from Nial Moores & Jenny Bowman
Visiting various well-known (and some lesser known) sites mostly in the west and northwest, we encountered a grand total of 190 species heard or seen (with c. 170 recorded by JB) between April 27th and May 4th. Sites visited included Yeongjong and Song Do (Incheon) on 27th; the Geum Estuary and Weiyeon Island on 28th (resulting in 118 species recorded that day); Weiyeon only on 29th & 30th; Weiyeon on the morning of May 1st, followed by Boryeong tidal-flat and the Geum Estuary in the afternoon; the Geum Estuary and Boryeong tidal-flat again early in the morning of the 2nd, followed by a small part of Seosan Lake A; Namhansan Seong near Seoul on 3rd; and forest near the national arboretum and then Cheorwon on 4th. Weather was cool and mostly sunny with occasional fog or haze near the coast, with the exception of a severe thunderstorm (with perhaps >50mm of rain and brief gale-force winds knocking down several trees) at dawn on April 29th. As expected, this system produced some of the highest numbers of grounded landbirds during the period.
Selected highlights included:
- Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor. At least 70 were present at Song Do colony on April 27th, despite ongoing reclamation of the last viable area of tidal-flat there.
- Purple Heron Ardea purpurea. One overflew Weiyeon on April 29th.
- Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes. Three at Boryeong Tidal-flat on May 2nd and 3rd.
- Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus. A male was over reed-beds at the Han-Imjin Estuary on May 4th.
- Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus. On Weiyeon, a non-breeding plumaged bird (second calendar year?) on April 28th was followed by a full breeding plumaged adult on 29th.
- Latham’s Snipe Gallinago hardwickii . Recorded daily on Weiyeon between April 29th and May 1st, with at least four on 29th the highest day count (a day with 40 other snipe of three other species also on the island…).
- Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus. A breeding plumaged bird was at the Geum Estuary on April 28th.
- Nordmann’s Greenshank Tringa guttifer. Seen at three different roosts on the mainland at the Geum Estuary, with one on 28th; 2 or 3 on May 1st; and at least two on May 2nd.
- Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris. At least 4,600 were at two mainland roosts at the Geum Estuary on May 2nd.
- Gull sp. An extremely odd-looking gull, considered to show several features of both Black-headedChroicocephalus ridibundus and Slender-billed Gull Chroicocephalus genei (latter only one previous national record) was seen briefly at Boryeong tidal-flat on May 2nd and was probably still there (though mostly very distantly) on the 3rd. The lack of an obviously bi-colored eye; the shortness of the tail; and the darkness of the bill seemed anomalous on a bird showing only one ear spot with an exceptionally long and slender bill and small eye. Perhaps the bird’s singular appearance might perhaps be best explained by some hybrid influence (e.g. between Slender-billed Gull and Black-headed Gull?)? Comments welcome!
- Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius. Superb views were enjoyed of a pair chasing off Red Squirrels from their nest hole near the arboretum on May 4th.
- Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps. One heard singing on April 29th on Weiyeon (NM only) is considered exceptionally early.
- Chinese Nuthatch Sitta villosa. One (or two) near the Geum Barrage on April 28th and one (or two) on Weiyeon Island on May 1st would be considered extraordinary in any other year!
- White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis. One briefly on Weiyeon Island on April 29th (NM only).
- Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina. One male fed briefly on the school playing ground on Weiyeon in fog and light rain on April 29th. This is believed to be the third national record.
- Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus. On April 30th, an adult male seen by NM only moved from field to field, perching on nets and fence-posts, unfortunately passing by several photographers apparently unnoticed.
- Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola. One, then two adult males, present on Weiyeon daily.
- Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi. A small menzbieri-type Pechora tried to find shelter under the same covered area we were taking shelter in during the rainstorm on 29th, with another heard in a different part of Weiyeon Island the same day. On May 4th, one gustavi-type seen and heard in Pocheon (Gyeonggi Province) is an unusual inland record.
- Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus. At least 15 were grounded on Weiyeon on April 30th and May 1st – a decent count for a small offshore island.
- Brambling Fringilla montifringilla. Recorded daily on Weiyeon, with a peak of 200 on April 29th and several fresh-in birds most days.
- Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes, Typically rare in May, but recorded daily, with 25 seen on May 4th (including one flock of 15 in Cheorwon).
- Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus. Recorded daily, with an estimated 110 on April 30th being the maximum day count. On Weiyeon, many appeared exhausted (one even falling asleep as it fed) and we saw one killed by a cat.
- Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami. Recorded daily, including on the mainland, with highest day counts of 30+ on April 29th on Weiyeon. Some on Weiyeon appeared exhausted and were highly approachable – with one such bird killed by a cat.
- Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys. Recorded almost daily with high counts of 60 at Yeongjong on April 27th and 30+ on Weiyeon Island on April 29th.
- Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola. Maximum of only two, on Weiyeon Island on April 29th.
- Yellow Bunting. Emberiza sulphurata. Only one recorded, on Weiyeon on April 29th.
- Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala. Recorded daily, with a maximum of 350+ on Weiyeon on April 29th, decreasing to 250 on 30th. On April 28th and again on May 2nd, a personata was in song near the Geum barrage.