Selected Bird Survey highlights from Nial Moores
In total 110 species recorded, with between 66 and 83 species recorded daily. Winds remained stubbornly to the north or northeast, and skies largely fair, with the only precipitation being several rain showers on 27th and a 30-minute spell of rain on October 31st. Numbers of most irruptive migrants (the only exception being Eurasian Siskin) fell steadily during this period. Highlights (with all images taken with a hand-held Nikon P7100 through a SUPERB Swarvoski scope) included:
Northern Lapwing: One between 29th and 31st in 1-gu is perhaps only the second record for Gageo (the last being more than 10 years ago).
Red Turtle Dove: One (presumed First-winter male) was seen briefly at 2-Gu on 27th. This species is recorded scarcely annually in the ROK.
Eurasian Magpie: One arrived in 1-Gu on 29th and was still present on November 1st.
Rook: A maximum of four were present on 30th. All corvids are very scarce on Gageo.
Yellow-bellied Tit: 10+ were present on 27th, with numbers falling steadily through the period, and the last being seen on 31st.
Siberian Chiffchaff: One was present in 1-Gu early in the morning of 28th. Based on its strong wing-bar and lack of yellow on the wing-bend this is believed to be a different individual to that on the 21st. There are still probably fewer than 20 national records of this species: however, this is the fourth recorded on Gageo just this year.
Arctic Warbler sensu lato: Both single Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (examinandus) and Japanese / Pacific Leaf Warbler (xanthodryas) were believed heard calling in 1-Gu. The only individual that was well seen (on November 1st) appeared exceptionally green on the upperparts, and showed much yellow in the supercilium and ear coverts, as well as on much of the underparts. While it is tempting to claim this individual as a Pacific Leaf Warbler, it appeared rather small and was not heard to call. Can other yellow-tinged taxa (like kennicotti) be ruled out? We would welcome receiving expert advice and published articles on how to separate these taxa in the field!
Hume’s Leaf Warbler: One on November 1st (which was much easier to ID than the above!).
Chinese Nuthatch: In some ways, perhaps the most extraordinary record on Gageo this autumn so far – suggesting that this year’s irruption could result in this species turning up anywhere in the ROK (and perhaps also in eastern China or even Japan?). One possible was heard on October 30th and presumably the same individual was digiscoped (terribly!) on November 1st, both times in the quarry in 1-Gu.
Siberian Stonechat: Between 20 and 40 present daily. All are believed to be Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri , recognised as a full species (distinct from both European S. rubicola and Siberian Stonechat S. maurus) in version 3.2 of the Checklist of the International Ornithological Congress. As such, this species will be listed in the next update of the Birds Korea checklist. Details are now being sought on how to separate Stejneger’s from Siberian Stonechat on field-views (for example, do maurus also sometimes show dark marks on the longest uppertail coverts, shown by probably 1 in 4 of the stejnegeri seen on Gageo this autumn)..
Red-breasted Flycatcher: One was seen and heard well (in the same view as a Taiga Flycatcher!) in 1-Gu on 31st. Red-breasted Flycatcher appears to be a very scarce but predictable late-autumn visitor to the ROK.
Siberian Accentor: Typically rather scarce on Gageo, even in good winters for the species on the mainland. The first personal records of the autumn were on October 30th, with two present on 31st and November 1st.
Red Crossbill: A female flew west on 30th.
Eurasian Bullfinch: A small flock was heard (but not seen) on 30th. This is my / the (?) second record of the species on Gageo (first was in January 2009), although it is not yet listed for the county by Lee Kyung-Gyu.
Pine Bunting: Three together were in a mixed bunting flock in the 1-Gu quarry on the evening of November 1st.
Black-headed Bunting: The 2-Gu bird remained present and confiding throughout the period.
All images © Nial Moores / Birds Korea.