Socheong Island, May 04~05

Bird News from Subhojit Chakladar

A quick weekend trip to Socheong to see what has changed from 2 weekends ago. The weather didn’t look “promising” with clear blue skies and gentle northerly winds but there were a few surprises.

The first agricultural plot that I scanned produced an leucistic bunting (most probably a Black-faced Bunting)! Walking around the main village and into the hills just behind, a decent number of birds were found. There were moving flocks of Eye-browed Thrush and large numbers of Yellow-browed and Eastern Crowned Warblers. There were 2 Chinese Blackbirds, a brilliant male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and the personal first Mugimaki Flycatcher of the spring. A couple of Pale-legged Leaf Warblers were also well seen. While returning towards the main road, a Siberian Thrush flew past and perched on a nearby tree. As I walked along a trail on one of the hillsides, Eurasian Siskins were busy feeding amidst the beautiful wildflowers. Most of the birds (particularly the young ones) were almost oblivious of whats happening around them. So much so that I had to stop walking and start crawling on all four in order to avoid trampling them! There were also significant numbers of Yellow-browed and Tristram’s Buntings. Rest of the island however was unusually dull in terms of birds. Raptors included a pair of squabbling Northern Hobby, Oriental Honey Buzzards and Grey-faced Buzzards. Late afternoon, I decided to try my luck at the lighthouse gully and found a rather obliging Siberian Blue Robin and walking back to the village, a rather distant look at the personal first Chestnut Bunting of the year. Right before the village a Blue-and-White Flycatcher was encountered. (Initially I had mistaken it for a cumatilis owing to the much lighter forehead. Thanks to Dr Moores for his help in correctly identifying it as the nominate taxa. The cumatilis taxa, it seems have been recently accorded a full species status.)

Next morning at dawn, birds at the lighthouse gully included a few Siberian Rubythroats, Rufous-tailed Robins, a Light-vented Bulbul. Near the fish farm a group of Chestnut-flanked Whiteyes were spotted. On the road back to the main village, a Taiga Flycatcher was seen for a few moments. Once again a rather dull day (by Socheong standards). 24 hours on the island yielded 62 confirmed species of birds based on visual observation only.

Leucistic Bunting,Photo © Subhojit Chakladar


Chinese Blackbird, Turdus mandarinus, Photo © Subhojit Chakladar


Mugimaki Flycatcher, Ficedula mugimaki, Photo © Subhojit Chakladar

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus tenellipus, Photo © Subhojit Chakladar

Siberian Blue Robin, Luscinia cyane,Photo © Subhojit Chakladar

Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana,Photo © Subhojit Chakladar


One comment on “Socheong Island, May 04~05

  1. Dear SC,

    Thank you for your report and images. A couple of quick comments if okay?

    The first and most important is that the Blue-and-White Flycatcher you photographed is sadly not a cumatilis. The Brazil book on East Asian birds is unfortunately most misleading on these (and a few other taxa). Male cumatilis shows many differences from Blue-and-White – especially very limited black in the plumage (sometimes a darker eye-mask; sometimes some dark border to an otherwise BLUE BIB; often blackish mantle streaks on a more turquoise background). The Blue-and-White you photographed is not in full breeding plumage (hence the patchy appearance). By the extent of black it most likely fits nominate best. Please see the images in our gallery. Because of the many differences between these taxa, a paper was published last year in Forktail which recognises cumatilis as a separate species (with the proposed English name of Zappey’s Flycatcher). And this, therefore, is how this taxon is treated in our new checklist (more or less complete and to be posted soon).

    The other comment is, to my mind, comparatively minor (though to others probably much more important!). The bird you photographed is best described as leucistic rather than albinistic or albino.

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