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Birds Korea's Bird News August 2008


Typically hot and humid (with day maxima often around 30°C until at least mid-month), with occasional heavy rains and strong winds, associated either with southern typhoons or caused by the mix of humidity and heat.

Chinese Egrets become widespread along the west coast. Shorebirds (including a very small number of Spoon-billed Sandpiper) begin to build up at many of the remaining best sites. Numbers tend to be rather lower than in spring, though Kentish Plover and Terek Sandpiper often number in the thousands in the southwest.

Parties of Black-naped Orioles, the appearance of returning leaf warblers (especially Eastern-crowned and Arctic Warblers) and small numbers of Brown Shrike and Yellow-rumped and Brown Flycatchers by mid-month also hint at the start of passerine migration, while Eurasian Hobby and Chinese Sparrowhawks appear to be on the move by the month's end. At the very end of August, the first migrant Pechora Pipit (probably of the subspecies menzbieri) and migrant buntings also appear on offshore islands especially.

Seabirds have provided most interest in recent Augusts, with three records of Sooty Tern, Korea's first Sooty Shearwaters (in 2002), and a Lesser Frigatebird overflying Socheong and Korea's first Aleutian Tern seen from the Socheong ferry in 2004, with another in 2006.

(The following records are a compilation of our own sightings and records sent in by other observers. As well as being posted on the Birds Korea website(s), selected records are also forwarded to other Korean-language birding websites; records of threatened species are arranged and forwarded to Birdlife International and national authorities when appropriate; flag images and records are passed to bodies responsible for their coordination throughout the flyway; and all records sent to us are used to compile annual reports and to support the evolving understanding of the status of many of Korea’s birds.)

Bird News from Tim Edelsten, Drs. Shim Kyu Sik & Robin Newlin
Namyang bay, August 30

At Namyang bay/Hwaseong, a vast area of former intertidal mudflat has been reclaimed, with much of it transformed into a reclamation lake: perhaps an 8th of original mudflat remains. At the high tide roost, a mixed flock of several hundred Eurasian & Far Eastern Curlew and Whimbrel predominated, with similar numbers of Common Greenshank and Great Knot flighting in later. Also here, and on the reclaimed lake area and freshwater pool nearby, an astounding 71 Black-faced Spoonbill (one bearing a red/yellow ring on left tarsus), 170 Eastern Oystercatcher and 43 Chinese Egret: perhaps 250 Grey Plover, 50 Black-tailed Godwit and several Bar-tailed Godwit;c. 60 Terek Sandpiper, c. 30 Dunlin, 20+ Grey-tailed Tattler, 11 Red-necked Stint, c.20 Kentish Plover, 15-20 Red Knot, 12 Common Redshank, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Common Sandpiper, and singles each of Marsh Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone,Mongolian Plover, Green Sandpiper and Broad-billed Sandpiper. Most were put to flight by a passing Peregrine: otherwise noteworthy was a juvenile with c.25 adult Mongolian Gull, and a juvenile Coot in the pool.

Undoubtedly best for the day, however, were good views of 2 juvenile White-breasted Waterhen at Suwon- apparently the first successful breeding of this species in Korea. This pair abandoned their first attempt due to disturbance from construction, but later raised 4 chicks on an adjoining site.

Namyang Bay, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Eastern Oystercatcher Haematopus (ostralegus) osculans, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Photo © Robin Newlin

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus, Photo © Robin Newlin

Bird News from Robin Newlin
Songdo, August 29

A late-afternoon visit to Songdo's lagoon and "brackish area." The lagoon held 12 Black-faced Spoonbills, 6 Marsh Sandpipers, 10 Black-tailed Godwits and a Common Sandpiper.

The brackish strip of water left from the ongoing reclamation held 18 more Spoonbills, 1 Chinese Egret, a Moorhen, 30 Common Greenshank, 250 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Common and 1 Spotted Redshank, 18 Marsh Sandpipers, 1 Long-toed Stint, and most unexpected, an apparent Pectoral Sandpiper (a species I'm very familiar with) which made a brief appearance, coming out of the reeds onto a mudbank then walking back out of view (probably to roost on a hidden bank). The bird showed the upright, heavy-bodied, small headed profile of the species, characteristic behavior (e.g. walk) as well as the distinctive, abrupt lower "pectoral" dermarcation; judging by supercilium (somewhat weak but most evident behind eye) this was probably a juvenile (plumage, though, was not particularly bright, i.e. a fairly dull brown, lacking rufous or frosted highlights; legs looked a dull greenish-yellow). The bird did not reappear during the time I had left.

Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, Photo © Robin Newlin

Bird News from Martin Sutherland, Kim Sona and Dr. Kim Seok-Yee
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, August 27

The highlight of an arrival of shorebirds today included an adult Common Ringed Plover. Also of note were counts of 30 Wood Sandpipers and 31 Long-toed Stints. Other species included 18 Pacific Golden Plover, 15 Whimbrel, 224 Common Greenshank, 25 Great Knot, 14 Dunlin and two Broad-billed Sandpipers. In addition to the shorebirds a Chinese Egret was also good to see.

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Nial Moores
Igidae, Busan, August 25

Despite apparently decent winds (E/NE 3-4+), few birds on the move, with a total of only 73 Black-tailed Gull moving south between 15:45 and 16:45 (and rather more "blogging"). Other species at sea included probably 3 Common Tern, 3 Streaked Shearwater north, and most unseasonal, an adult Vega Gull. Along the coast trail, at least one Brown and two Grey-streaked Flycatchers were the obvious highlights.

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Suncheon Bay, August 25

The neap high tide remained frustratingly low so the birds remained fairly distant. Counts were generally rather small but included 26 Grey Plover, 50 Whimbrel, 260 Common Greenshank, 80 Terek Sandpipers, 460 Black-tailed Godwits, 31 Grey-tailed Tattlers, 54 Great Knot and a very few Dunlin and Red-Necked Stints.

Bird News from Dr. Kim Seok-Yee
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, August 24

The morning count revealed 28 species of 29 Grey Heron, 14 Little Egret, 24 Great Egret, 13 Eastern Spot-billed Duck, 4 Black-tailed Gull, 6 Grey Plover, 20 Pacific Golden Plover, 11 Long-billed Plover, 3 Kentish Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Whimbrel, 7 Common Redshank, 79 Common Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 5 Wood Sandpiper, 4 Terek Sandpiper, 11 Common Sandpiper, 23 Grey-tailed Tattler, 34 Ruddy Turnstone, 3 Long-toed Stint, 3 Great Knot, 1 Marsh Sandpiper, 7 Eurasian Magpie, 1 Brown-eared Bulbul, 2 Oriental Turtle Dove, 16 Barn Swallow, 12 Eurasian Tree Sparrow,

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

From left: Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Common Redshank Tringa totanus and
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
South side of Saemangeum, August 21

Looked along the south shore of Saemangeum but this was extremely poor; in part, probably, because we misjudged the tide and stayed a little too long in the Pyonsanbando National Park. The few waders noted included 12 Grey Plovers, 47 Terek Sandpipers, 3 Great Knots, 13 Common Greenshanks and seven Whimbrel. However, 19 juvenile White-winged Terns at GyeHwa were a notable sighting.

Part of flock of 19 White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Heungnong to Gomso, August 20

In the morning stopped to look over Yongdae reservoir near Heungnong. At least 25 Long-toed Stints feeding among the water-lilies along with 15 Wood Sandpipers would have been the highlight had it not been for the discovery of a female Greater Painted Snipe together with an apparent juvenile bird. An Oriental Dollarbird near Sunun mountain gave good views.

Later in the day, a rising tide south of Gomso in Chulp’oman, produced good numbers of shorebirds. Counts included 450 Grey Plover, 150 Kentish Plover, 600 Mongolian Sand Plover, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 300 Whimbrel, 50 Common Greenshank, 600 Terek Sandpipers, 100 Grey-tailed Tattlers, 200 Great Knot, 200 Red-Necked Stints and small numbers of several other species including three Broad-billed Sandpipers.

Up the road in the Gomso saltpan area a further 165 Common Greenshank, 12 Marsh Sandpipers and 20 Wood Sandpipers were among shorebirds present.

Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Hyun Hwa, north of Hyunkyong, August 19

High tide produced a decent concentration of shorebirds including at least one Greater Sand Plover among 380 Mongolian Sand Plovers and 26 Kentish Plovers. Also noted were 26 Grey Plover, 30 Great Knot, 85 Red-Necked Stints, two Long-toed Stints, 38 Bar-tailed Godwits, 150 Whimbrel, 280 Common Greenshank, 14 Wood Sandpipers, 80 Terek Sandpipers, 215 Grey-tailed Tattlers and five Ruddy Turnstone.

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii (right) with two Mongolian Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus
and a Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus (left), Photo © Martin Sutherland

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii (left) with five Mongolian Sand Plovers Charadrius mongolus,
Photo © Martin Sutherland

Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes with Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus
and Bar-tailed Godwits Limosa lapponica, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, August 18

An interesting find in the reed bed area of the site was a presumed juvenile Chestnut-cheeked Starling.

Shorebird numbers included 10 Long-billed Plover, one Little Ringed Plover, 8 Kentish Plover and an impressive 24 Pacific Golden Plover, the Curlew Sandpiper again, 16 Great Knot, 14 Red-necked Stints, five Long-toed Stints, one Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, five Common Redshank, one Marsh Sandpiper, 140 Common Greenshank, 10 Wood Sandpipers, 15 Common Sandpipers, 19 Grey-tailed Tattlers and 30 Ruddy Turnstone.

Presumed Chestnut-cheeked Starling Sturnus philippensis, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Presumed Chestnut-cheeked Starling Sturnus philippensis, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Ruddy-Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Aham-do, August 18

High tide at Aham-do revealed few shorebirds, but best 3 Chinese Egret and a juvenile Saunders's Gull.

On the golf course, 2 Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and a Northern Boobook.

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Northern Boobook Ninox scutulata, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Nial Moores
Igidae (Busan), August 17

With Beaufort Force 3 East/North-easterly winds, a one-hour seawatch at Igidae produced rather few birds. Most numerous were Streaked Shearwater, with 102 logged moving north (with most very far offshore), followed by Black-tailed Gull (with 89 more moving south than north). In addition, three Black-headed Gull and one Common Tern also moved north.

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, August 15

No sign of yesterday’s Chinese Egret but at least 40+ Great Egret were present. Most shorebird numbers showed increases. These included a Curlew Sandpiper, ten Long-toed Stints and two Marsh Sandpipers new from yesterday while at least 14 Pacific Golden Plovers, 5 Grey Plover and 139 Common Greenshank were counted.

Great Egret Ardea alba modesta, Photos © Martin Sutherland

left: Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva, right: Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Photos © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Nial Moores
Igidae (Busan), August 15

In light southerly winds (again after an overnight thunderstorm), another two hours at Igidae, at its most disturbed (one scan of the sea logged 22 vehicles, including several ships, fishing boats and at least 4 jet-skis, while every headland had groups of people escaping the summer heat). An 80 minute sea-watch (between 15:40 and 17:00) produced counts of 453 Black-tailed Gull, 26 Black-headed Gull, 70 Red-necked Phalarope, 3 terns, and single Streaked Shearwater, Grey-tailed Tattler and Great Knot south in the first hour, and 301 Black-tailed Gull, one Black-headed Gull, 31 Streaked Shearwater south (or “blogging”) and 30 Common Tern south in the final 20 minutes. Few birds in the gulley, though a Black Paradise Flycatcher type song was heard very briefly.

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Songdo, August 15

An obvious influx of migrants included several seasonal firsts: on the lagoon, 2 Garganey: on the brackish area, a Black-winged Stilt and 9 Marsh Sandpiper and 1 Spotted Redshank.

A 60m-wide strip of the "inal mudflat is being newly reclaimed for widening of the motorway, and any potential close viewing point of the now substantial high-tide wader roost obscured by a high wall, making for only approximate counts. Of 19 shorebird species, most notable included Black-tailed Godwit which have swelled to at least 2400: also a large influx of c.1300 Grey Plover, some 400 Bar-tailed Godwit, 130 Mongolian Plover, c.110 Terek Sandpiper, 60+ Whimbrel, 21 Far Eastern Curlew, 18 Ruddy Turnstone, 14 Common Redshank,1 Eurasian Curlew, 6 Dunlin and 4 Red-necked Stint.

Otherwise noteworthy were 26 Black-faced Spoonbill, 2 juvenile Saunders's Gull, c. 25 Black-headed Gull, 4 Shoveler, and 4 Chinese Egret ( including 1 banded individual, with a different colour combination to last weeks bird).

I spent about 30 minutes disentangling a sadly injured Black-tailed Gull from much fishing wire (including a hook through its mouth, and torn wing). With high numbers of fishermen using the area, carelessly discarded tackle poses a deadly hazard to the birds.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, August 14

A single Chinese Egret was a nice find while the most notable shorebird sightings included nine Pacific Golden Plover, 118 Common Greenshanks and 16 Wood Sandpipers.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Nial Moores
Igidae (Busan), August 13

In light south-easterly winds after a ferocious overnight thunderstorm (lasting at least 6 hours) two hours at Igidae. In the main gulley a single Eastern Crowned Warbler and an Asian Stubtail, while a one-hour seawatch (from 1600-1700) produced good numbers of birds. In two long scans, a total of 259 Red-necked Phalarope were counted (with 30 on the sea, and the rest moving south), along with 55 Streaked Shearwater, 60 Common Tern and a single Great Knot (also moving south). In addition, a fresh-plumaged juvenile Black Kite was watched drifting along the coast, along with 25 Red-rumped and 5 Barn Swallows.

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Eocheong-Gunsan, August 12

The morning added only a family of Blue Rock Thrush. The return crossing saw 7 Streaked Shearwater and 2 Finless Porpoise.

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Upo Wetland, August 11

Very hot but a count of 500 Great Egrets seems worthy of note. Also six Mandarin Duck.

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Suncheon Bay, August 11

A Chinese Egret was good to see while shorebird numbers at high tide included a lone Eastern Oystercatcher as well as 48 Grey Plovers, 42 Great Knot, 79 Black-tailed Godwits, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, 48 Eurasian Curlew, 22 Far Eastern Curlew, 74 Whimbrel, 17 Common Redshank, 485 Common Greenshank and 143 Terek Sandpipers.

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Gunsan-Eocheong Island, August 11

Swinhoe's Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis,
Photo © Tim Edelsten

The sea crossing provided 3 Streaked Shearwater and 16 Swinhoe's Storm Petrel.

In sweltering heat on the island, very few birds: early migrants were 3 Arctic Warbler and 6 Grey Wagtail, otherwise local breeding species included 8 Japanese White-eye, Korean & Japanese Bush Warbler, juvenile Peregrine, 3 Grey Starling, c10 Temminck's Cormorant and 15-20 Pacific Swift (which presumably nest on nearby uninhabited islets).

Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Temminck's Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, August 6

Shorebird counts included eight Little Ringed Plovers, three Long-billed Plovers, 117 Common Greenshanks and 16 Common Sandpipers. A Black-capped Kingfisher behind the water treatment works was nice to see.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata, Photo © Martin Sutherland

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Songdo, August 3

With a relatively high tide (8.08m at 6.30pm) all roosting areas appeared under water, with the possible exception of some rocky shoreline at Sorae. Thus, most shorebirds appeared forced onto the brackish area- a now reedy stretch that was mudflat only 2 years ago. Nowadays this area is full of post-nesting Oriental Reed Warblers and Spot-billed Ducks which have rapidly colonised it. Unfortunately it is also now heavily disturbed by walkers and recreational campers: right behind stands the new Songdo city, which only 2 years back was tidal mudflat, stretching to the horizon.

Nevertheless, flocks of shorebirds streamed in, most notable at least 700 Black-tailed Godwit and some 600+ Common Greenshank, c120 Great Knot, 8 Common Redshank, 3 Grey Plover, c.30 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Eastern Oystercatcher, 9 Far Eastern Curlew and 1 Whimbrel. Also on here 16 Common Sandpiper, 2 Cattle Egret (a first for here), 6 Mallard, and a nearby Far Eastern Lark in the field.

A lone Chinese Egret forced into freshwater was having little luck fishing: notably it bore 2 coloured rings on the right tarsus. A couple of recently fledged Mongolian Gulls from the nearby colony loitered around,strangely circling over my head: also a handful of Black-headed Gull.

Best perhaps, 15 Black-faced Spoonbill, which were flushed by passing family out for a stroll; at dusk a further 7 headed overhead, far inland to some unknown roost.

The lagoon is now scarred by a road being carved into it, through an area formerly used by Spoonbills. On here, 2 Moorhen, 3 Barn Swallow, and a young Peregrine which terrorised a roost of Common Greenshank.Also here, an unidentified Owl feather.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris and Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Songdo-Lagoon, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Songdo city, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Barry Heinrich
Yangyang, Namdae Cheon, x river, sandbar and riparian area, August 2

I decided to make a morning visit to Namdae Cheon today hoping to find some interesting birds. With thunder storms in the weather forecast I started early. Fortunately the rain held off for a few hours while I was birding.

On the sandbar at the river mouth there were Black-tailed Gulls, Grey Herons, 4 Lesser Sand Plovers, 4 Red-necked Stints, 2 Ruddy Turnstones, 2 Terek Sandpipers, a Whimbrel, a Far Eastern Curlew, a Greenshank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Great Cormorant and a Spot-billed Duck.

In the shallow water around the island upstream from Naksandae Bridge were more Grey Herons, Eastern Great Egrets, Little Egrets, Spot-billed Ducks, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits and Common Sandpipers.

Near the river side sculpture park closer to Yangyang I found 5 Siberian Stonechat, a Chestnut-eared Bunting and 2 Zitting Cisticolas. I recorded 33 species during my visit to the site. I intend to survey this area more intensively in the next year or two.

Namdae Cheon, Photo © Barry Heinrich

Sandbar, Photo © Barry Heinrich

Siberian Stonechat Saxicola torquatus and Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata, Photos © Barry Heinrich