Bird News from Leslie Hurteau
A Saturday was spent with a visiting friend in the southwest of Jeju Island looking for migrants. While waiting for the ferry to Mara-do, we had an hour to spare and decided to check the nearby fields. This was a wise choice as we found a Whiskered Tern feeding nearby four Black-winged Stilts. A bit further on and we discovered even more Whiskered Terns, a count of up to 40 or so at the time. Shortly after we spotted approximately 35 Oriental Pratincoles flying and feeding high in the sky, which may be a record count (or close to it) for pratincoles in the ROK.
We ran to catch the ferry, and boarded for Mara-do. The seas were unusually quiet on both trips despite seeing hundreds of Streaked Shearwaters off the coast by Moseulpo the day prior during the immediate tail end of Typhoon Chanthu.
Mara-do was fairly birdy for late September, with highlights being two Brown Shrike, a female Ashy Minivet, Striated Heron, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, and three Muscicapa species (Asian Brown, Dark-sided, and Grey Streaked Flycatchers). A couple Phylloscopus leaf warblers were seen, one of which was of the Arctic Warbler complex.
We had planned to move up the west coast after Mara-do, but the surprises of the morning drew us in for a late-afternoon / early evening birding of the Alddreu Airfield area. We happily refound the Oriental Pratincoles resting in fields, 16 individuals which was roughly half of what we had seen flying earlier.
More surprising was the large group of marsh terns, mostly Whiskered Tern but with a few White-winged Terns mixed in. We counted up to 100, as a conservative count. We simply had no choice but to stick around and enjoy the sight of 100+ terns flying over the overgrown grassy airfield feeding on what they can find.
Other birds of note were Spotted Redshank, Common Snipe, Pacific Golden Plover, Wood Sandpiper, and plenty of resident Eurasian Skylarks and Zitting Cisticolas. Overall it was an exciting trip that showed what surprises can be found after a big late summer storm in the ROK.