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Birds Korea's Bird News April 2014

April

One of the very best birdwatching months! Cold days and nights (lowest day maxima of about 12°C) gradually warm through the month (reaching the low 20s°C by month’s end), and dry spells interspersed with 1-2 days of heavy rain and stormy conditions produce great birding towards month’s end.

Early in the month, late-migrating Hooded Crane move through while shorebird numbers and diversity start to build up. While the massive concentrations of shorebirds at Saemangeum are no longer to be found since seawall close there in 2006, internationally important concentrations of species like Great Knot and the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann's Greenshank can still be found at the adjacent Geum Estuary. Other ROK specialties include Chinese Egret and Black-faced Spoonbill, especially along the west coast. This latter species has a world population of only c. 2500! While early April sees species like Brown-headed Thrush and Japanese Robin in very small numbers (especially in the southwest and southeast), mid-April is often marked by the first large passerine arrivals and spring overshoots, with good counts possible of Blue-and-white, Narcissus and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, and Tristram's and Yellow-browed Buntings. Late in the month, 100 or more species a day are possible on outer islands like Heuksan and Gageo in the far south, Eocheong and Weiyeon in the west, and Socheong and Baekryeong in the far northwest.

In more than one recent year, national rarities have included Pied Wheatear, Caspian Tern, Japanese Night Heron, Black-headed Bunting and Himalayan Swiftlet. Korean firsts in April since 2000 have included Ferruginous Flycatcher and Crag Martin (2002), Paddyfield Warbler on (2004), Claudia’s Leaf Warbler (2009) and Godlewski’s Bunting and Golden-crowned Sparrow (both in 2010).

Bird News from Nial Moores
Igidae, East Busan, April 18

The first heavy rain of the spring in Busan fell from early afternoon on the 17th (when single Western Osprey and Eurasian Woodcock in Igidae were the highlights in three wet hours of observation) through to the early morning hours of the 18th. A full day (0630-1900) was therefore spent in the park on the 18th with overcast conditions clearing by mid-afternoon, though feeling cool (c. 15C) in occasionally moderate north-easterlies. As on April 18th 2013, counts of all birds heard and seen were made covering the two main streams, “Sakhalin Stream”, SK area (where construction continues) and back along the main road through the centre of the park. In addition, an hour (11:45-12:45) was spent watching the sea off from SK. In total, 65 species were logged, Names and order follow the newly-posted 2014 Birds Korea Checklist:

  1. Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator. Two.
  2. Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus. A total of 14 heard and seen.
  3. Arctic Loon Gavia arctica. Two in intermediate plumage south, followed soon after by seven unidentified loons in non-breeding plumage further out also flying south.
  4. Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas. In total, 102 north in one hour, almost all in the first 20 minutes.
  5. Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus. One in full breeding-plumage.
  6. Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra. One on the “usual” rocks near SK.
  7. Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus. Three Second Calendar-years.
  8. Temminck’s Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus. Twenty in various plumages off SK.

  9. Temminck's Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus, © Nial Moores

  10. Black Kite Milvus migrans. Two adults, calling frequently.
  11. Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus. One still.
  12. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius. One on open ground in front of SK.
  13. Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris. The most numerous gull, with 10+ blogging over the sea and a further 20 roosting up on tetrapods and seawalls.
  14. Common Gull Larus canus. At least three off SK.
  15. Vega Gull Larus vegae. At least one off SK.
  16. Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus. At least three, and possibly up to 10, off SK.
  17. Taimyr Gull Larus heuglini taimyrensis. One adult showing very worn upperwing coverts off SK.
  18. Pomarine Skua Stercorarius pomarinus. One poorly digiscoped pale morph adult with full spoon flying north over the sea off SK. There are rather few mainland records in spring.
  19. Murrelet Synthliboramphus sp. Three north off SK.
  20. Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis. Eleven heard or seen.
  21. Pacific Swift Apus pacificus. Approximately ten, most at SK.
  22. Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos kizuki. Six.
  23. White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos. Excellent views of an adult male.
  24. Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus. One.
  25. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. Two or more probably three.
  26. Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus. Five plus.
  27. Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus. One.
  28. Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius. At least eight.
  29. Eurasian Magpie Pica pica. At least 18, including several nest-building.
  30. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos. Ten.
  31. Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus. One still.
  32. Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica. About 10 still present in the morning; not heard in the afternoon.
  33. Coal Tit Periparus ater. Four heard singing.
  34. Varied Tit Sittiparus varius. Only two.
  35. Marsh Tit Poecile palustris. Only one.
  36. Eastern Great Tit Parus minor. A total of 42 heard or seen.
  37. Brown-eared Bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis. Hard to count accurately but 79 counted as heard or seen.
  38. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. Three singles.
  39. Korean Bush Warbler Horornis borealis. One in song.
  40. Asian Stubtail Urosphena squameiceps. Seven, all in the morning.
  41. Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus. Seventeen.
  42. Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus. One heard in song (as on almost the same data last year). This is a scarce species in the southeast of the country.
  43. Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides. A minimum of two: one or two in song (sound-recorded) and one calling. One additional bird heard calling briefly was either this species or more likely a Pale-legged (the call is subtly but distinctly different). This follows on from two or three heard here and one sound-recorded on April 17th and 18th 2013 (these among the first mainland records).
  44. Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus. A total of 11 heard or seen.
  45. Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthera webbiana. A total of 146 seen and heard (172 were counted on the same date here last year).
  46. Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus. Thirty-two.
  47. Goldcrest Regulus regulus. Five, including one in song.
  48. White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea. Six.
  49. Grey Thrush Turdus cardis. At least two adult males.
  50. Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus. Twenty-eight.
  51. Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus. One at SK.
  52. Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris. At last five together in “Sakhalin Stream”.
  53. Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana. Nine in total, with seven nominate males (many of which were Second Calendar-years and several of which were singing) and two females.

  54. Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana, © Nial Moores


    Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana, © Nial Moores

  55. Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane. One in song.
  56. Japanese Robin Larvivora akahige. One adult male briefly feeding on berries in a tree about 2m up.
  57. Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina. Four male narcissina (including two singing and one obviously Second calendar-year individual) and one apparent Second calendar-year male owstoni. Tentative identification of this tricky individual was based on several features outlined in our online ID note (at: http://birdskorea.org/Birds/Identification/ID_Notes/BK-ID-Narcissus-Flycatchers-types.shtml ) including: (1) retention of much immature plumage; (2) yellow feathering of emergent supercilium apparently extending to base of bill; (3) lack of strong red-orange in throat feathering; (4) pale base to apparently deep-looking bill; and (5) large area of white on the wing, including what appeared to be a pale spur on the left side (unfortunately not digiscoped clearly). While narcissina occurs regularly on the mainland and on offshore islands during northward migration, owstoni is much less-often recorded / reported with perhaps all claims to date confined to islands in the west and southwest..

  58. Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina narcissina, © Nial Moores


    Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina owstoni, © Nial Moores


    Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina owstoni, © Nial Moores


    Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina owstoni , © Nial Moores

  59. Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus. Four.
  60. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius. Four.
  61. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus. Found only around SK, where about 25 present.
  62. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea. Two.
  63. White Wagtail Motacilla alba. One.
  64. Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens. One.
  65. Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica. Seven.

  66. Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica, © Nial Moores

  67. Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus. Only one heard (even though a few dozen were present earlier in the week).
  68. Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami. One.
  69. Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans. Eighteen in total.

The visit to the site in a grey morning with occasionally light rain showed not very many birds, but a good number of shorebird species on the natural tidal flat: 39 Bar-tailed Godwit (the number during the week varied between 21 and 51), today only green leg-flagged BNN was seen. Earlier this week also an individual with an orange engraved leg-flag and code 3V was seen two times on the site. This bird was banded in 2011 and was seen in Mokpo every year since banding (see: Flagrecords Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland).

Other shorebirds seen were: 7 Whimbrek, c. 60 Dunlin, 4 Terek Sandpiper, 2 Great Knot, 2 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Common Greenshank, 1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Little Ringed Plover, c. 20 Kentish Plover.

Several Grey Heron and 3 Little Egret were slowly wading through shallow waters while 3 Little Tern were active hunting for fish. Eastern Spotbilled Duck c. 50 and about 40 Eurasian Wigeon with only a handful Common Teal were largely on the water or resting on platforms. A few Black-tailed Gull and Black-headed Gull were also seen.


Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica with green engraved legflag (BNN), © Andreas Kim


Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica with orange engraved legflag (3V), April 14 2014 © Andreas Kim


Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, © Andreas Kim


Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, © Andreas Kim


Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, © Andreas Kim


Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus, © Andreas Kim


Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata, © Andreas Kim


Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris, © Andreas Kim


Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, © Andreas Kim

Bird News from Jang Ji-Ung
Gageo Island, April 13 -16

April 16:
A Tree Pipit was observed when I was birding at Haneul Park.
It was with an Olive-backed Pipit and I was able to make a direct comparison, its supercilium was unclear, nearly absent ear coverts, with very narrow streaking on its flanks.
Also, the color was relatively murky, giving a dirty impression. Alongside this bird, Siberian Rubythroat, Grey Thrush, and Chinese Blackbird were also recorded at a nearby small pine forest.

April 15:
I climbed Doksil Mountain to Shinseon Peak from the early morning. I was around the areas of 2-Gu village and the beach-side road where villagers are raising their goats.
There were a relatively high number of birds, and they were easy to find. When I moved to 1-Gu, I found a Grey Bush Chat at the grassland of Haneul Park.
Following the news from Mr. Go Kyeong-Nam, who I met on the island, I found a Thick-billed Warbler, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, and Eurasian Wryneck on the same day.

April 14:
Although, I was mainly climbing a mountain... there were lots of Asian Stubtail and thrushes, with the Black Woodpigeon singing at various places.
A female Ashy Minivet was observed on a beach-side road from Shinseon-bong to Hangri Village and a Greater Short-toed Lark when I was going to Seomdeung Peninsula.

April 13:
About 20 Streaked Sheawater were observed from the ferry going to Heuksan island. I started birding right away upon arrival. Interestingly, Narcissus Flycatcher were seen very often.

Species list:

  1. Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
  2. Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas
  3. Temminck’s Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus
  4. Great Egret Ardea modesta
  5. Little Egret Egretta garzetta
  6. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
  7. Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus
  8. Japanese Lesser Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis
  9. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
  10. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
  11. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
  12. Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
  13. Herring Gull Larus vegae
  14. Mongolian Gull *Larus mongolicus
  15. Black Wood Pigeon Columba janthina
  16. Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
  17. White-rumped Swift Apus pacificus
  18. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
  19. Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
  20. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  21. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis
  22. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
  23. White Wagtail Motacilla alba ocularis
  24. Black-backed Wagtail Motacilla alba
  25. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
  26. Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus
  27. Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens
  28. Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
  29. Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus
  30. Brown-eared Bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis
  31. Chinese Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis
  32. Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope
  1. Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane
  2. Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
  3. Common Stonechat Phoenicurus auroreus
  4. Grey Bush chat Saxicola ferreus
  5. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
  6. White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea
  7. Grey Thrush Turdus cardis
  8. Blackbird Turdus merula
  9. Brown Thrush Turdus chrysolaus
  10. Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
  11. Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus
  12. Manchurian Bush Warbler Horornis diphone
  13. Japanese Bush Warbler Horornis borealis
  14. Short-tailed Bush Warbler Urosphena squameiceps
  15. Radde’s Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi
  16. Eastern Crowned Willow Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus
  17. Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris
  18. Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina
  19. Blue-and-White Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana
  20. Great Tit Parus minor
  21. Varied Tit Sittiparus varius
  22. Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus
  23. Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
  24. Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys
  25. Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica personata
  26. Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans
  27. Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala
  28. Brambling Coelebs montifringilla
  29. Oriental Greenfinch Chloris sinica
  30. Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus
  31. Grey Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus


Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni, © Jang Ji-Ung


Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina, © Jang Ji-Ung


Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana, © Jang Ji-Ung


Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus, © Jang Ji-Ung


Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris, © Jang Ji-Ung
On the left leg a blue band, on the right leg a yellow band with U20 N14 6067086


Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, © Jang Ji-Ung


Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla, © Jang Ji-Ung


Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris, © Jang Ji-Ung


White Wagtail Motacilla alba, © Jang Ji-Ung

Bird News from Nial Moores
Igidae, East Busan, April 15

In warm afternoon sunshine (reaching 22°C), a few hours spent in woodland at Igidae. High numbers still of Brown-eared Bulbul (50+ seen), Vinous-throated Parrotbill (dozens) and Yellow-throated Bunting (tens, with several in song) and at least one White-backed Woodpecker. Other migrants more obviously on passage included a dozen or more singing Pale Thrush (only small numbers breed here) and at least four singing White’s Thrush, a dozen Barn Swallow, four Asian Stubtail, one Blue-and-White Flycatcher, one Grey Thrush, two Bohemian Waxwing and now at least 30 Japanese Waxwing.


Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans, © Nial Moores


Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica, © Nial Moores


Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica, © Nial Moores

Bird News from Jason Loghry with Nial Moores
Busan, April 13

After a rainy morning, we were back at Igidae on Sunday afternoon where we again found Pacific SwiftBarn Swallow, several Brown-eared BulbulPale ThrushGrey Thrush, two gorgeous Narcissus FlycatcherJapanese Waxwing (4; and 2 waxwing unidentified- possibly Bohemian heard), singing Blue RobinGrey-capped GreenfinchEurasian SiskinGoldcrest, singing Eastern Crowned WarblerJapanese Bush WarblerAsian Stubtail, and Red-flanked Bluetail.


Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina, © Jason Loghry

Bird News from Matt Poll with Heloise Stankard
Jeju, Seogwipo April 12-13

Seogwipo’s parks are buzzing with flycatchers! Cracking male Narcissus Flycatchers were spotted in two riverside parks, with six seen in total. Blue-and-white (5), Asian Brown (3), and Dark-sided (1) Flycatchers were also seen gorging themselves on insects. Also notable in these parks was a freshly-marked Eastern Crowned Warbler, and a Striated Heron on a familiar patch of stream (where I’ve seen Striated Herons overwintering in the past, but not this past winter). A presumably escaped Muscovy Duck was also seen here, with a head and bill structure strongly recalling a Mandarin Duck.

In my neighbourhood, small groups of Ashy Minivets have been heard twice more in the past week, with a single bird spotted circling aimlessly around the area for several days.


Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina, © Mathew Poll


Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana, © Mathew Poll

Bird News from Jason Loghry with Aniko Pollak
Busan, April 12

At dawn, we visited Yongdo looking for migrants. The sky was overcast and there were occasional showers. At the park we visited, there were fewer people than usual in the morning, which made for a pleasant walk birding. Highlights of the morning include great views of Japanese Robin (2), Stejneger's Stonechat (7), Black-faced Bunting including personata (6), Japanese Bush Warbler (3), Brown-headed Thrush (1), Pale Thrush (5), White's Thrush (3), Grey Thrush (1), Winter Wren (1), Red-flanked Bluetail (3), and Olive-backed Pipit (4), and both Japanese Waxwing and Asian Stubtail (1) singing.

In the afternoon, we headed to one of the eco parks along the Nakdong River. We were very pleased to find several more Stejneger's Stonechat (10+), Common Reed BuntingPallas's Reed BuntingPenduline TitFar Eastern Cisticola (3), Japanese Bush WarblerWhite Wagtail (lugens and leucopsis), Gadwall (9), Eurasian Spoonbill (1), Little Ringed Plover (2), Barn Swallow, with the highlight of the afternoon being a distant Bluethroat, possible first record for Busan?


Nakdong, 12 April 2014, © Jason Loghry


Japanese Robin Erithacus akahige, © Jason Loghry


Stejneger's Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri, © Jason Loghry


Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala, © Jason Loghry


Brown-headed Thrush Turdus chrysolaus, © Jason Loghry


White's Thrush Zoothera aurea, © Jason Loghry


Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, © Jason Loghry

Bird News from Jason Loghry with Nial Moores
Busan, April 11

With only a few hours of afternoon light remaining, we set off to Igidae for a short walk. At the park, we were happy to find Pacific Swift (12) flying overhead right away. We had nice views of a stunning Blue and White Flycatcher (1), we encountered both male and female Grey Thrush (3), singing White's Thrush (3), Pale Thrush, Japanese Waxwing (2), Brambling, and singing Ashy Minivet.

Bird News from Matt Poll with Heloise Stankard
Jeju, Mara-do, April 11
  1. Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
  2. Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiques; two from the ferry
  3. Pacific Swift Apus Pacificus
  4. Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
  5. Great Tit Parus major
  6. Far Eastern Skylark Alauda japonica; several remain
  7. Barn Swallow Hirundo Rustica
  8. Japanese Bush Warbler Horornis diphone
  9. Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus
  10. White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea; one remains in the woods
  11. Grey Thush Turdus cardis; two males in the woods, one female on the rocks
  12. Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
  13. Brown-headed Thrush Turdus chrysolaus; three in the woods
  14. Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus; still a dozen females
  15. Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri
  16. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitaries
  17. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
  18. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
  19. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni; two on the rocks
  20. Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica
  21. Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans
Bird News from Andreas Kim
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, April 8

While passing the wetland in the morning short after high-tide a short stop was made to look for shorebirds. While the water, the floating platforms and most of the already free mud-flat areas were populated with Eastern Spot-billed Duck (c. 80), Eurasian Wigeon (c. 40), Eurasian Teal (c. 15), a handful of Gadwall and a flock of c. 40-50 Black-headed Gull mixed with a few Black-tailed Gull, in one corner 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Kentish Plover and 3 Dunlin were found. On one platform also seen one Great Cormorant, one Grey Heron and one Common Gull.

The infilling of the area P2 is operated at a high pace and so large areas are disturbed.

From distance looked at the area P3 showed a large flock of c. 300 larger Gulls, most likely like the days before Black-tailed and Vega.


Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, © Andreas Kim


Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, © Andreas Kim


Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, © Andreas Kim


Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, © Andreas Kim


Gadwall Anas strepera, © Andreas Kim


Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, © Andreas Kim


Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris, © Andreas Kim


Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, © Andreas Kim


Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, © Andreas Kim


Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, © Andreas Kim


Dunlin Calidris alpina, © Andreas Kim


Infill of habitat P2 (image from end of March), © Andreas Kim

Bird News from Matt Poll
Mara-do and southwest coast, Jeju, April 6

Mara-do:

  1. Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas; one seen from the ferry
  2. Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica; two groups of roughly 10 seen heading towards Jeju
  3. Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius; 11 from the ferry between Mara and Gapa
  4. Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
  5. Pacific Swift Apus Pacificus
  6. Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
  7. Great Tit Parus major
  8. Far Eastern Skylark Alauda japonica
  9. Barn Swallow Hirundo Rustica
  10. Japanese Bush Warbler Horornis diphone
  11. Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus
  12. Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
  13. Brown-headed Thrush Turdus chrysolaus; several skulking in the woods
  14. Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus
  15. Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus; at least 20, mostly females
  16. Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri; numbers up to almost a dozen
  17. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
  18. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
  19. Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens
  20. Brambling Fringilla montifringilla; the most numerous migrant on Mara, over 40 seen
  21. Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica
  22. Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans

Back on southwestern Jeju, I encountered groups of 12-20 Red-flanked Bluetails at 4 different patches of coastal woods.  There were more males in the mix compared to Mara, and they were all feeding on sunny paths at forest edges.  Also notable on ‘mainland Jeju, one Japanese Quail, and a group of shorebirds made up of nine Kentish Plover, two Dunlin, and one Red-necked Stint.  Nearby, another Brown-headed Thrush was heard, and a White’s Thrush and personata Black-faced Bunting were seen.

On Saturday April 5th, in spite of a full day of birding in the hills, the most notable birds were encountered before I got out of bed - two groups of Ashy Minivets flew past my window during the early morning, heading towards Halla Mountain.


Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus, © Mathew Poll

Bird News from Jason Loghry and Yun Sunkyung
Yongdo, April 5

We went to Taejongdae in the early morning looking for migrants. Many birds were vocalizing, but mostly tits, many being Eastern Great. We enjoyed nice views of Pale Thrush (6+) and Grey Wagtail (4). We also heard a Blue and White Flycatcher singing beautifully. Away from Taejongdae but on Yongdo, we found Red-flanked Bluetail (3), a Dusky Thrush, Barn Swallows in flight and watched a flock of 100+ Eurasian Siskin from our apartment window for almost the entire afternoon. Although nothing surprising, it’s exciting to know birds are on the move.

Bird News from Nial Moores and Mike McCarthy
Geum Estuary & Saemangeum, April 2 - 3

A quick visit to Saemangeum for research by one of the UK’s leading environmental journalists / writers Mike McCarthy (e.g. Independent journalist and author of the wonderful book “Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo”) was memorable for the company, conversation and also contrast between the natural abundance of the tidal-flats in Seocheon (Geum Estuary) and the decay of Saemangeum with all of its vast dead-scape of grass, concrete and rust.


Mike McCarthy at the Geum, 2 April 2014, © Nial Moores


Megapark Saemangeum Seawall, 3 April 2014, © Nial Moores


Megapark Saemangeum Seawall, 3 April 2014, © Nial Moores


Green Saemangeum, 3 April 2014, © Nial Moores


Saemangeum, 3 April 2014, © Nial Moores


Simpo, Saemangeum, 3 April 2014,© Nial Moores


Mangyeung Estuary, 3 April 2014,© Nial Moores

At low tide at the Geum barrage, a Common Starling (personally, a species encountered more frequently this spring than in any previous year) was the highlight, along with a scattering of Far Eastern Curlew. Bird life was much more abundant on the once-again-threatened Seocheon tidal-flats, with a high-tide roost there of c.13,000 shorebirds containing 2,000 Great Knot (globally Vulnerable), 2,500 Far Eastern Curlew (globally Vulnerable), 3,000 Dunlin, 500 Grey Plover and 5,000(+) Bar-tailed Godwits. Within the Bar-tailed flock, one menzbieri was detected in among the crowds of spring-plumaged baueri and also one striking leucistic bird: does anyone in New Zealand or Australia know this individual from the boreal winter? Also present there were 20+ Saunders’s Gull (globally Vulnerable) and at least four Swan Goose (globally Endangered).

We found many fewer birds in Saemangeum (where most time was spent along the outer seawall, visiting the various roadside “parks”, and at Simpo, in between the increasingly-canalized Dongjin and Mangyeung rivers). There were a few trucks road-building on former tidal-flats, but there appeared to be less construction activity than in most other parts of the country. Most of the tidal-flats are now covered in reeds and other grasses – a vast area populated more by Far Eastern Cisticola (dozens heard in song) than any “city of the future”. The only shorebirds we found were 40-45 Far Eastern Oystercatcher, a dozen roosting Far Eastern Curlew and a small squadron of Kentish Plover. More numerous were Great Cormorants (200+) and especially Greater Scaup with a single raft of 1,900 (fringed loosely by c. 15 breeding-plumaged Black-necked Grebe) out near the seawall. In among the scaup, a few smaller, darker-backed males seen at range, and one smallish-looking female caught wing-flapping – showing obvious contrast on the upperwing: Lesser Scaup or variation within Greater? Other birding highlight was a group of three Bohemian Waxwing seen dropping in at Simpo from up-high.


Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis, © Nial Moores


Leucistic Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, © Nial Moores


Interesting Scaup (showing upperwing) in a flock of Greater Scaup Aythya marila, © Nial Moores


Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus, © Nial Moores