Bird News by Bradlee Sulentic
Took a trip to Seosan Lake A with my son Anthony and a good friend, Theo. It was Theo’s first birding trip, so I focused on giving him a memorable day instead of doing a serious count. We hit the road at 6:30am and got great looks at two Northern Hobbies roadside just a couple minutes into the drive. Amazing birds for someone who is new to birding. Just outside of Lake A we had two Large-billed Crows fly right over the car. Plover activity is much reduced compared to the numbers from 3 weeks ago. Two Mongolian Plovers were seen amongst a small flock of Common Greenshanks. They were a fun challenge for me, being that they were in transitional plumage, showing only hints of their breeding plumage on their heads. The only ducks seen today were the usual Spot-billed Ducks, which was a bit surprising to me, since I have already seen Northern Shovelers here this season. The highlight for Theo was the Peregrine Falcon that was perched on one of the islands in the lake. I am thinking this bird is a resident, having seen a falcon in the same area of the lake each of the last three times I’ve been there. Common Sandpipers provided their usual comic relief for all of us with their constant tail-bobbing.
The two highlights for me came in quick succession. The first highlight was the Wood Sandpiper that was playing hide-and-seek with me on one of the dikes between two rice fields. When I pulled up to the dike and first saw it, I got great looks at it sitting there quietly. But I wanted to get my scope set up on it so that Theo and Anthony could get even better looks of it. As soon as I turned off the engine to get out and get my scope set up it quickly dipped into the rice. No bird. Time to move on. Except as soon as I started the engine up again it quickly came out of the rice and settled down in plain sight. Engine off. Bird gone. This happened several times over 3-5 minutes. Highlight number two for me was the very attractive Richard’s Pipit I saw skulking along at the base of a dike separating two fields. What made it the highlight for me was being able to positively ID it after getting home and researching it a little. I figured not ID’ing it in the field meant not ID’ing it at all. It was also good to know that my shorebird book-work has worked out for me. I was able to instinctively distinguish two Marsh Sandpipers from the greenshanks we had been seeing all day.
We ended the morning with a flock of ~750-1,000 Bean Geese (with a couple Greater White-fronted Geese mixed in) flying tree-top level right over the car after flushing from a field in the distance. Seeing the looks on Theo’s and Anthony’s faces as the geese flew over made the trip more than worth the time spent driving them down. All-in-all, it was a good day of birding. We saw no rare birds and overall numbers were still pretty low. The daily average of species always hovers around 30 species, though the species differ from one week to the next. I’m looking forward to taking the local Cub Scout wolf den to earn their Wildlife Conservation belt loops on a trip to Cheonsu Bay at the end of next month.