Eocheong Do, April 30
Another day of heavy rain and fog produced the anticipated fall on Eocheong Do...an absolutely fantastic day's birding.
122 species in total logged for the day. Outstanding was Korea's first Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea, flushed out of trees by a passing Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis.
Although it only showed for 5 minutes to four of us (sat on overhead wires giving repeated sharp agitated calls) the ensuant discussion led to the retrospecive identification of 2 flycatchers seen on April 28 on Ocheong Do by Tony Lancaster and Jimmy Dowdell as also being this species...thus Korea's first Ferruginous Fly presumably became its third only 2 hours after the event!
Other best birds included:
Chinese Egret: 1
Black-faced Spoonbill Platelea minor: 2 (one resplendent with yellow breast band and head plumes), circling the harbour at midday. Later refound by Wilton Farelly at 11 pm, illuminated by harbour side lights as they fed at the tide line in near darkness.
Little Whimbrel: 3
Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum: 1
Amur Falcon Falco amurensis: 1 male. A rare migrant in Korea, especially so in sping.
Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola: 1 female found by Nick Lethaby and heard by several others...about the 6th for Korea.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis: one (about the fourth for Korea), among a new high (conservative) count of at least 3000 Olive-backed Pipit.
Blyths Pipit Anthus godlewski: 2, one scoped excellently by the group.
Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi: 1 (nominate subsp?) early individual well watched. Pechora is commoner in Korea in mid-May and again especially in late September-late October.
Waxwing sp: 1…surely Japanese Waxwing but views inconclusive.
Thrushes: 9 species, included a tailless Siberian Zoothera sibiricus flying with 40+ Ashy Minivets Pericrocroctus divaricatus! 200 of the latter were conservatively logged during the day.
Phylloscs: ca 260 individuals of 7 species logged, including 5+ Two-barred Greenish P. (trochiloides) plumbeitarsis (less than 10 records previously) and 1 or more Hume's Leaf Warblers P.humei (possibly 2nd for Korea).
Red-cheeked Starling Sturnus philippensis: 5, a new island high.
Possibly on the same day, Michael Greene and two other birders found 50-60 Red-cheekeds on Jeju Island in the far southwest: a new national high count.(Also a Black-faced Spoonbill there.)
Eocheong Do, April 29
...overnight showers, followed by strengthening south-easterlies , rain and fog.... a "fall" soon started...
Although most birds remained hidden, a few highlights of the 92 species recorded on the island this day included:
Little Whimbrel Numenius minutus: 2, with one feeding down to 2 metres from amazed observers.
Latham's Snipe: at least 5 by evening
Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata: 4, including 3 watched coming in from the sea
Olive-backed Pipit: an estimate of 2000 +, many of which were simply flyovers.
Ashy Minivet Pericrocous divaricatus: 50
Red-cheeked Starling: 5
And most incredibly, Korea's first Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris, picked up several times during the day at different points by different birders.
CRAG MARTIN Description:
Although seen independently between 0800 am and about 1300 hrs by a number of different experienced observers on different parts of the island, the Crag Martin actually only gave good views for 2-3 minutes, as it flew back and forth along a narrow gully next to the sea. Although white tail spots were looked for and not seen (probably as the tail was never fully spread), the overall bulk of the bird and its very shallow tail cleft, combined with dirty brown underparts, dull brown upperparts, dark-streaked throat and darker undertail coverts, were all well-noted, and the identification was immediate and straightforward. Apparently breeding as far east as the mountains near Beijing, and already recorded at least once in Japan, the Crag Martin is actually a welcome though overdue addition to the Korean list.
Back to Eocheong Do, April 28
More Murrelets (21 this time) and Streaked Shearwaters before the 10 foreigners arrived on this small isolated island (population 320, excepting military pesonnel)...a mixture of bemusement and disbelief on both sides.
Calm anticyclonic weather with clear skies since 20th meant few grounded migrants, though with the afternoon and increasing cloud, birds started to show well late on.
Highlights included the first Red-cheeked Starlings Sturnus philippensis (2), six species of phyllosc, 9 species of bunting.
Also another ficedula flycatcher resembling the one shown in the identification forum.
Saemangeum, April 27
Another try for the fabulous Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus ..one seen very briefly then in flight before Nial could put the group onto it…
Searching through 1500+ Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis was hardwork, slightly compensated for by the spectacle of 30 000 Great Knot at roost, by 2 more Nordmann's and by the discovery of a Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, a rare migrant to Korea...
Geum River & Saemangeum, April 26
Birding at the Geum River and within the Saemangeum area: the Yellow Sea's most important site for shorebirds, and the world's largest ongoing reclamation site...
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata: 1500+ at Geum : a fantastic sight and an amazing high count.
Great Knot: 1200
Nordmann's Greenshank Tringa guttifer: 2 watched well by the group in the evening.
Eocheong Do, April 25
With Irish team back to the mainland for the month's best tides and to meet up with the "American team" in Gunsan: 10 foreigners birding Korea in spring...another new high!
6 Ancient Murrelets again from the ferry..
Japanese Robin in song
Siberian Blue Robin Luscinia cyane new peak, with 20 seen.
Pallas's Leaf Warbler: 10
Eocheong Do, April 24
Another great day's birding, with 75 species including:
Streaked Shearwater: 10
Lathams Snipe: 1
Greater Short-toed Lark: 1
The first Narcissus Flycatchers Ficedula narcissina (including one which appeared to be Olive-backed Flycatcher F. elisae)
Tristram's Bunting: 100+
Eocheong Do, April 23
77 species on the island included posibly up to 6 Himalayan Swiftlet (NB the Eocheong Do bird on the 18th was only Korea's SECOND record..), the season's first Wryneck Jynx torquilla, no less than 700 Olive-backed Pipits Anthus hodgsoni, more than 100 Dusky Thrushes, a male Black-throated Thrush to replace the Red-throated last seen on 22nd, 40 Yellow-browed Buntings Emberiza chysophrys,8 Japanese Yellows, 150 Littles E. pusilla and 150+ Black-faced Buntings E. spodocephala (largely of nominate ssp).
Ferry back to Eocheong Do, April 22
87 species, including a good mix of mainland, sea and "Japanese" specials, with an excellent mid-afternoon arrival...some highlights included:
Streaked Sheawater Calonectris leucomelas: 300 from the ferry.
Temminck's Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus: 3
Latham's Snipe Gallinago hardwickii
Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus: 7, right next to the boat.
Himalayan Swiftlet: 1
All the previous rare thrushes (and good numbers of commoner species, with e.g. 30+ Duskys T. naumanni (of both nominate and eunomus ssp) and 10 Pale Thrushes
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes: 100+
Eastern Crowned Warbler P. coronatus: 150+
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia: 6+
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana: 6
7 species of bunting, with
Tristram's Emberiza tristrami commonest (30-40+)
Silky Starling: 1 Female
Yeongjeong Do, April 21
A delayed plane meant a missed high tide...nevertheless 3 summer-plumaged Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes, 300 Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris, probably 10 summer-plumaged Saunders's Gulls and a lone Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus.
Eocheong Do, April 20
Latham's Snipe: 1
All the rare thrushes still present, as was the Silky Starling.
Eocheong Do, April 19
Himalayan Swiftlet: 1-2 still
Grey Thrush: 4-5
Red-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis rufficollis: 1 adult male (in song!)
Chinese Blackbird: 1
Brown Thrush: 4
Dusky Warbler: 5
Pallas's Leaf Warbler: 4
Japanese Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata: small numbers
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus: 1 (an early record of a supposedly rare migrant)
Silky Starling: 1 male
Eocheong Island, west coast, April 18
70 species in 6 hours
Best, out of many highlights, included
HIMALAYAN SWIFTLET Aerodramus brevirostris 2 (2nd record for Korea: first on Gageo-do May, 2001)
Japanese Robin: 1
Grey Thrush: 3
Brown Thrush: 3
"Chinese" Blackbird Turdus (merula) mandarinus: 1 (about 6th record for Korea)
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus: 4+
Pallas Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus: 4 +
Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys: 1
Russet Sparrow: 1 (2nd record for southwest of country?)
Silky (or Red-billed) Starling Sturnus sericercus: 1 (previous records from Gageo-do)
Daejeongdae, April 17
Latham's Snipe Gallinago hardwickii: 1
Japanese Robin: 3 seen well
Pale Thrush: 50-100
White's Thrush: +
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum: 2
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus: 5+
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenelipes:5+
Eastern Crowned Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus: 10+
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra: 10+
Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans: 2
April has been warmer than usual, largely dry but for 3 days of rain (and fog) mid-month.
Migrants are already moving through in force, with many species apparently a week or so earlier than expected, and the first foreign birders also arriving.
Mandy Walsh Mcgeehee spent 3 days here, en route to Bhutan, between April 12th and 14th.
We visited the Nakdong and Daejongdae on 12th, the Guryongpo Peninsula on 13th, and Song Do and Yeong Jeong Do on the 14th.
Highlights included Brown Thrush Turdus chrysolaus (2), several Blue-and-white Flycatchers Cyanoptila cyanomelana and a single male Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina , Japanese RobinErithacus akahige (3: first mainland records?) and stunning views of White's ThrushZoothera dauma (6-7) at TaejeongDae. On 13th Grey ThrushTurdus cardis(1), Dusky ThrushTurdus naumanni and Pale ThrushTurdus pallidus, Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla, presumed Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus sakhalina (1) and late Pacific Diver Gavia pacifica and White-winged ScoterMelanitta (fusca) stejnegeri (120) at Kuryong'Po were the highlights.
The third day, April 14th, started early at Song Do in Incheon: amongst the 6 000 or so shorebirds present were an early and unexpected Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos, and several hundred Far Eastern Curlews Numenius madagascariensis, as well as about 20 breeding plumaged Saunders's GullsLarus saundersi.
Even more surprising was an extremely late Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella, that gave only tantalisingly brief views.
The afternoon on Yeong Jeong Do was divided between woodland, where we found early Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum and Tristrams' Buntings Emberiza tristrami, and the tidal-flat. The high tide roosts on the southern side of the island held about 11 000 shorebirds, including one Nordmann's Greenshank Tringa guttifer, starting to move into summer plumage, and more obviously a dozen or so black-hooded Saunders's Gulls and a lone Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea.
On April 16th back at Daejongdae, Busan, heavy rain and fog produced flocks of Pale Thrushes (106 were counted, but many more were likely missed), at least 5 Grey and three Brown Thrushes Turdus chrysolaus, stunning views of Whites Thrushes (4+) and the spring's first Siberian Blue Robins Luscinia cyane...
Migrants at Daejongdae, southeast Busan, April 8
A 3 hour watch at South Korea's most southwesterly point noted small numbers of migrants already on the move, and some of the buntings in full song. These records seemed to point to an earlier migration than expected, so the birders arriving later in month for a guided tour by Nial were in for some real treats.
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis: 1
Grey-faced Buzzard-Eagle Butastur indicus: 1
Asiatic House Martin Delichon dasypus: 4
Siberian Stonechat Saxicola(torquata)maura: 3
White's Thrush Zoothera dauma: 1 or 2 (sometimes over-winters at this site)
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus: several
Brown Thrush Turdus chrysolaus: "at least" 1 female - poss. 1st mainland record
Asian Stubtail Urosphena squameiceps: 2
Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus: 3+
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans: "reasonable" numbers singing
Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala: "reasonable" numbers singing.