Bird News from Nial Moores with Dana Gardner, John and Mary Clark and Mike Friel.
Highlights of a rapid visit to several key birding areas included single Pallas’s and Relict Gulls, five Hazel Grouse, spectacular views of hundreds of cranes and >300,000 Baikal Teal; two Steller’s Sea Eagle; and evidence of early spring movement in the form of goose flocks and a family party of Hooded Crane on the move, and Pallas’s Rosefinch at two sites and a single group of 9-10 Siberian Accentor.
Dawn at Cheorwon on 13th broke with excellent views of perhaps 100 Red-crowned and 300+ White-naped Cranes and was followed shortly after with good looks at Varied Tit and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and tantalizing views of 9-10 Siberian Accentor and more than half-dozen Long-tailed Rosefinch in addition to 200+ Rustic Bunting. Also present was a single Eurasian Treecreeper. On the reservoir there, we found 45+ Baikal Teal and saw 50+ Cinereous Vulture. We finished the day a little to the south with good views of single Eurasian Eagle-Owl and Japanese Wagtail; several wiegoldi Meadow Bunting and one adult and presumably one subadult White-tailed Eagle (or can adults sometimes have darker eyes like the lower bird in the image below?).
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo © Nial Moores
White-tailed Eagles Haliaeetus albicilla © Nial Moores
In the national arboretum on the 14th, we found two Solitary Snipe, 2-4 Mandarin Duck, two Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, 25+ Yellow-bellied Tit (!!) and at least three Pallas’s Rosefinch. Other species of note included a cracking Naumann’s Thrush and both Black and White-backed Woodpeckers heard.
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus doerriesi © Nial Moores
Naumann’s Thrush Turdus naumanni © Nial Moores
Second Calendar-year male Pallas’s Rosefinch Carpodacus roseus © Nial Moores
On the Han River in the afternoon, we then enjoyed good views of an immature Steller’s Sea Eagle, followed for two of us by rather more distant views of a (the?) massive adult female.
Steller’s Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus © Nial Moores
The 15th was a day of almost unbroken warm sunshine and almost calm conditions after a subzero dawn. At a reservoir south of Gunsan, perhaps 10-15,000 Baikal Teal were still present; and a short walk through rice-fields near there also found single Japanese Quail and Chestnut-eared Bunting, single Lesser White-fronted Goose and 2-3 Black-faced and half-a-dozen Pallas’s Reed Buntings, with MF also seeing two distant probable Oriental Stork. In the Geum Estuary, the First-winter Relict Gull was still present, and although only a handful of Saunders’s Gulls were seen, there were also 13 Swan Goose and three high-flying Hooded Crane.
Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus (with Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus in top image) © Nial Moores
On the Geum River, probably 300,000 Baikal Teal provided a spectacular end to the day – made even more memorable when an adult Pallas’s Gull overflew the flock!
Baikal Teal Anas formosa © Nial Moores
Pallas’s Gull Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus © Nial Moores
A few hours in the morning of the 16th at Namhansanseong included excellent views of a group of five Hazel Grouse, first feeding in trees, then on the ground, and by brief but close views of an adult male Pallas’s Rosefinch.
Hazel Grouse Tetrastes bonasia © Nial Moores
Other species of note there included two White-backed Woodpecker seen well; a few Naumann’s Thrush; and a large group of up to 30 Azure-winged Magpie making a very wide range of vocalisations.
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus © Nial Moores
Initially thought to be mobbing calls, various clicking and begging notes were also made by a sub-group of 5-8 birds, including two that flattened themselves on the ground, with wings quivering and tail spread, while they were inspected by others in the same group – perhaps part of courtship and / or the establishment of social rank?
All images taken with a handheld compact Sony digital camera through a truly superb Swarovski scope…on a brand new Swarovski tripod!