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The Birds Korea Review of 2004

Orange-headed Thrush, Hong Island. Photo © KIM Sung-Hyun

December 31st, 2004
Written by Nial Moores and edited and arranged by Charlie Moores.

2004 was another year of growth: new records, new high counts, new organizations and as always new conservation challenges! We very much hope that this year's report, its depth and breadth, fully reflect this rapid growth in both South Korean birding and in conservation awareness.

Birding highlights from the approximately 400 species logged during the year include eight new species for the Birds Korea unofficial checklist, with Great Frigatebird Fregeta minor, Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Steppe/Saxaul Grey Shrike Lanius (meridionalis) pallidirostris, Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina, Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola and Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita added to category 1 (as supported by images and/or descriptions) and Aleutian Tern Sterna aleutica and Chinese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus yunnanesis added to category 2 (single observer; no photographs).

Other outstanding birding highlights during 2004 included the apparent addition of at least two species to the national breeding list (Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum at or near Seosan, and Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis on Socheong Island); the first Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus in over 20 years, and only the second Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii in over 40; the reoccurrence of several apparently now-regular species, including wintering Red-billed Starling Sturnus sericeus and Black Stork Ciconia nigra and a long list of species occurring in nationally high numbers.

And who could forget the amazing Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus story? For an adult to arrive at Seosan to coincide with an international symposium on waterbird conservation; and then for the same bird to be watched flying south to be rediscovered 250 km away on the migrant hotspot of Heuksan that very same afternoon is as memorable as it is suggestive. Networks are growing; birding is growing, even as the natural world shrinks.

We believe that 2004 has been especially important therefore for the creation of the Korean Wild Bird Society (KWBS) in July (we wish that important society every success!), and for the evolution of our own Birds Korea out of the WBKE Net. Now with formal membership and an increasingly clear focus on the Migratory Waterbird Strategy, we are aiming with this review to help fill a few of the gaps in knowledge on selected species, many of which are listed in Birdlife International's 'Red Data Book: Threatened Birds of Asia ( To the backdrop of the ongoing Saemangeum saga, the continuing degradation of rivers and hillsides, and the change in the rural landscape towards the birdless and industrial, we again thank all observers (over 80 are listed this year!), for their records and their images'¦only through gathering and analyzing such records can we get a clearer view, both of what is happening around us and of what we need to do to challenge it.

Again, with many thanks for your support, and best wishes and birding!


This report is compiled on the basis of observations made by the following:

Barry Heinrich (BH)
Christian Junge, Horst Jolitz, Norbert Krott, Hans Mittendorf (CJ et al)
Cha In Hwan (CIH)
Chai Seung Hoon (CSH)
Choi Soon-Kyoo (CSK)
Ch´on Shi-Jin (CSJ)
Choi Tae-Hon (CTH)
David Moore, Judy Moore and Alex Moore (DM, JM, AM)
Edwin Collaerts and Peter Collaerts (EC, PC)
Goto Akira (GA)
Gwak Geon Kyung (GGK)
George Ledec (GL)
Han Sung Ho and Choi Chang Yong (HSH, CCY)
Jos Henrichs (JH)
Jung Jae Heum (JJH)
Jake Mac Lennan, Peter Nebel and Kim Young-Mi (JM, PN, KYM )

Joachim Hammar (JOH)
Jurgen Steudtner and Thomas Heinicke (JS. TH)
Joon Young Hak (JYH)
Kang Chang wan (KCH)
Kim Dae-Hwan (KDH)
Kim Eon-mi (KEH)
Kim Hwa-Jeon (KHJ)
Kwak Ho-Kyong (KHK)
Kim Hyun-tae (KHT)
Kim Hwa-Yeon (KHY)
Kim Ju Heon (KJH)
Kara Lewantowicz and Ryan (KLR)
Kenji Mochizuki (KMO)
Kim Mi-Ran (KMR)
Kim Sang-Din (KSD)
Kim Soo Il (KSI)
Kawaguchi Sentaro (Kse)
Kim Sung-Hyun (KSH)
Klemens Steiof (KST)

Kim Su-Kyung (KSK)
Kim T.J (KTJ)
Kim Yeong Joon (KYJ)
Lee Jeong-Sik (LJS)
Lee Ki-Seup (LKS)
Lee Sung Hyun (LSH)
Lee Sang Won (LSW)
Mike Hooper (MH)
Mo In-Ho (MIH)
Nial Moores and Park Meena (NM, PMN)
Noh Shin Ae (NSA)
Peter de Haas (PdH)
Park Gon-Sok (PGS)
Park Jong-Gil (PJG)
Park Heon-Woo (PHW)
Peter Mann (PM)
Park Jin-Young (PJY)
Park Ju Young (PJuY)
Park Su-Cheol (PSC)
Park Seong-Gun (PSG)
Park Tae-Il (PTI)

Peter Vennema (PV)
Park Un-Nam (PUN)
Park Ui Soon (PUS)
Richard Rader (RR)
Sim Heon-Seop (SHS)
Song Y.G (SYG)
Tim Edelsten (TE)
Yoon Pyeong-Ryeol (YPR)
Choi Yong-Sung
Izle, Frederik Willemyns
Kirsten Kraetzel and Soenke Tautz
Miguel Demeulemeester (MD)
Jonathan Mercer
Mike Todd
Michael Duffy
Bill Howard
Robert Dannenberg (RD)
Manfred Fleischer (MF)
Joachim Bayer (JB) (NM and tour)

Please note: some records have been submitted directly to Birds Korea; others have been gleaned from various websites (most especially by Kim Su-Kyung), usually supported by photographs. In some cases therefore, the contributors were not necessarily those who found the species concerned, and in others identification might need to be supported at a later date with more detailed descriptions or supporting information.

The Year in Brief


The winter 2003/2004 was rather mild, and several species attempted over-wintering, including Black-tailed Godwit, Barn Swallow, Hoopoe and up to 13 Black Stork in the far southwest, along with a flock of Red-billed Starling and a Long-tailed Shrike on Jeju. Asian House Martin were seen on both Hong Island and at Busan, while two Red-crested Pochard (seventh national record) were present at Joonam reservoir mid-month.


Conditions stayed largely mild, and the month's highlight was a near-breeding-plumaged Pallas's Gull on the Han River on the 7th (4th national record), followed by between 25 and 31 Oriental Stork at Haenam mid-month, feeding in the same area as up to 300 White Spoonbill. A "Red-throated' Thrush at Asan on the 13th was either an over-wintering bird or part of early spring movements.


An extremely heavy snowstorm early month was for much of the country the only severe weather of the winter, with milder weather soon returning. The month saw small numbers of Japanese Waxwing moving through (with highest numbers reported being 30 in Busan and 15 in Gwangju), the first Chinese Blackbird and Red-billed Starling arriving on western islands, and several Lesser White-fronted Geese, with at least 11 at Seosan on the 28th (a new national high count) the same day that a Relict Gull was found there.


Rain fronts were very active early month, especially affecting the southwest and south coast. First of many spring rarities was at least one Black Redstart on Eocheong Island (from April 3rd), approximately Korea's ninth record, followed soon after by two more: one on Hong Island and one on Gageo Island. The 5th produced the first national new species of the year: one, then two Chiffchaff on Hatei Island in the far southwest. The next spell of rain produced Japanese Robin, Grey and Brown-headed Thrushes in Busan on the seventh, with the second national first of the year on the 8th, a Paddyfield Warbler on rarity hotspot Hong Island. (Incredibly, a second Paddyfield Warbler, a species occurring no closer to Korea than far western China and India, was found in October.) On the 9th, a Long-tailed Shrike was found in the far northeast of the country at Sokcho, with one on Eocheong Island the next day (the third of almost 10 recorded in 2004!), the same day that an Oriental Plover was found on Heuksan Island. In mid-month, on 14th and 15th, 250 Red-flanked Bluetail and 56 Pallas's Leaf Warbler on Socheong Island were both national high counts, while Grey Bushchat and Ferruginous Flycatcher on April 17th on Eocheong Island were the second and fourth national records respectively. Drier conditions prevailed until month's end, with heavy rain on the 26th resulting in a Japanese Night Heron being found on Socheong Island (the second of four recorded in South Korea in 2004), while subsequent clear skies and westerlies provoked significant migration of 'mid-spring' species, including 84 Grey Nightjar and 57 Northern Boobook watched at sea from the ferry between Socheong Island and the mainland on the 29th. Also on 29th, a White-shouldered Starling was found on Eocheong Island.


Calm weather conditions on the 1st, when the year's first Black Drongo was on Socheong Island, gave way to rain on the 2nd and 3rd, producing the next big wave of rarities and high counts. On the 3rd on Eocheong Island, 2 Citrine Wagtail and 2 Hume's Warbler were bettered on the 4th by national new high counts of 350 Eye-browed Thrush and 300 Little Bunting, while two Himalayan Swiftlet were seen on Hong Island. On the 6th a Light-vented Bulbul on Hatei Island was only the second national record, presaging a wave of arrivals that would culminate in breeding on Socheong Island, while on Hong Island there was a Spangled Drongo, followed on 8th by another on Eocheong Island. Also on the 8th, the most colorful addition of 2004 to the Korean list: an Orange-headed Thrush was found and photographed at extremely close range on Hong Island. On the 9th, 150 Chestnut-flanked White-eye on Eocheong Island was yet another national high count. A period of heavy rain mid-month produced Rufous-bellied Woodpecker on both Eocheong and Socheong Islands, along with record-breaking high counts of several species, including 45 Rusty-rumped, 75 Dusky and 50 Radde's Warblers on Socheong Island on 17th, and the year's second Grey Bushchat, this time on Hatei Island. On the 19th on Socheong, a Spotted Bush Warbler was only the second national record, while on the 20th there was a Rufous-bellied Woodpecker on Socheong Island, and two Manchurian Reed Warbler (third national record) on Hong Island. Late May often produces many surprises: in 2004, these included 2 Cinnamon Bittern on Heuksan Island on 22nd, and on Hatei Island, single Black Bittern and Red Turtle Dove on 26th and a Crag Martin (3rd national record) on 27th.

June and July

On June 2nd, 5 Light-vented Bulbul were on Socheong Island, while at the end of the month Whiskered Tern were found at both Seosan and Gangneung on the 26th. Beyond increased research of breeding Black-faced Spoonbill, the summer highlight was the discovery at Seosan on July 17th of a flock of 32 Oriental Pratincole, including 2 recently fledged juveniles: strong evidence that the species had nested for the first time in Korea.


Very hot and humid weather (with highs reaching 35 C in many areas at the beginning of the month) was punctuated by a series of storms tracking through the Korean straits. Although mainland Korea largely avoided being hit by any of the 14 or so typhoons that affected southern Japan in 2004, associated winds made August the month for seabirds'¦a Lesser Frigatebird was seen on Socheong Island on the 9th, a Bonin Petrel (Korea's second) was found dead on Jeju on the 15th, Korea's first Great Frigatebird was picked up exhausted on Jeju on the 19th, and Korea's first Aleutian Tern was seen from a ferry between Socheong Island and Incheon on the 23rd.


The month started excellently with a second Aleutian Tern being found at sea on the 4th. Also on the 4th, a Little Owl was photographed on Socheong Island, followed by another on Baekryeong Island on the 6th - several more records of this species were soon to follow. On the 6th, South Korea's second Rosy Starling, was found and photographed on Hong Island, remaining until the 7th. The weather became rather settled and calm, until rain fell again on 15th, producing another outstanding find on Hong Island, this time a first year Red-backed Shrike on the 16th, the year's sixth new species for South Korea. On the 21st, a Band-bellied Crake was flushed from long grass and bushes on Socheong Island, where a Steppe Grey Shrike was also photographed on the 22nd, likely South Korea's first. Heavy rain and strong winds towards the end of the month resulted in a Masked Booby being picked up in the Nakdong on the 24th, and the first Black-headed Ibis in over twenty years being found at Song Do on the 28th (photographed in amongst a flock of Black-faced Spoonbill).


The month started with the year's second Lesser Frigatebird on Eocheong Island on the 1st, and South Korea's second Paddyfield Warbler on Socheong Island on the 5th. Calm conditions throughout much of the month meant there were few significant falls, with least expected species, all on Socheong Island, being a Citrine Wagtail on the 6th (probably the first autumn record in South Korea), a Little Owl on the 13th, and a Chinese Leaf Warbler (Korea's first) on the 16th, feeding in among a group of about 30 phylloscopus. Towards the end of the month, on the 27th, 3 very early Scaly-sided Merganser were found on a river in the southeast of the country, the same day that 2 200 Hooded Crane were found at Gumi.


Heavy rain and strong winds at the very beginning of the month produced South Korea's third record of Verditer Flycatcher on the 2nd on Hong Island, when over 1500 buntings were on Socheong Island. On the 6th, two Red-breasted Flycatcher were found on Socheong Island (second and third records), with a third flycatcher (either albicilla, parva or a hybrid) found on the 11th after a night of gale-force winds and rain. Other exceptional finds on Socheong Island on the 11th included a national high count of 17 Grey Thrush, a Japanese Robin (first autumn record), and one or two Grey Bunting (first record in the north of the country), while there was also a Chinese Blackbird on Hong Island. On the 13th a male Baer's Pochard was at Joonam, while on the 18th a Siberian White Crane was found at Seosan. After roosting, it departed southward being found on the 19th on Heuksan Island, where it remained until the 20th. Also on the 19th, a Water Pipit was on Heuksan Island, with another found at Joonam on the 24th. On the 27th, the month's second Verditer Flycatcher was found on Jeju, the last major rarity of the month.


The month remained extremely mild through until the 20th, after which temperatures stayed at or near freezing until the end of the month in the north of the country, with no heavy snowfall or severe weather events. Numbers of wintering passerines remained low, and the most notable species were wintering Upland Buzzard and Oriental Stork throughout the month at Seosan and a Long-tailed Shrikeon Heuksan Island (at least until 22nd). On 18th, an adult Thayer's and a presumed juvenile American Herring Gull were at Jumunjin, and a Rough-legged Buzzard was at Seosan. A male Red-Crested Pochard was found on the Geum River from 19th, remaining until at least 30th with a second (a female) at Joonam on the 23rd. Colder conditions in the last third of the month also stimulated some movement of geese (with a Snow Goose at Ganghwa on 21st), and White-naped Crane, with ca 200 reaching the Nakdong Estuary on 21st. On 26th, 3 Greater Spotted Eagle were at Seosan, along with single Eastern Imperial Eagle, and Chinese Grey Shrike, while there was a Rough-legged Buzzard at Gangneung, and 7 Oriental Stork at Haenam (LKS). 5 Scaly-sided Merganser were found in the Southeast on 30th.

Selected Species Accounts

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Away from usual wintering areas in the NE (where at least 8 present: PJuY), a single first winter was at Yeong Jong on April 25 (NM and tour).

Swan Goose Anser cygnoides ENDANGERED
A migrant and scarce winter visitor. Small numbers of wintering birds were at the Nakdong (13, January 19th, NM); at the Geum, where 41 were present on January 8th (EC, PC), including one with a blue neck band with R 90 inscribed in white); at Seosan (singles) and the Han-Imjin. Northward migration estimates included ca 1000 on March 8th on the Han-Imjin (NM, PM, PV), with 500 still present on March 21 (NM, MH). In autumn, two were at the Geum on October 24th (CSH), and 500 at the Han-Imjin on October 29th (NM, JM, DM, AM). Wintering birds included at least 5 at the Nakdong Estuary on December 29th and 15 at the Geum on the 30th (NM, AG).

Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus VULNERABLE
A scarce migrant and rare winter visitor, significantly overlooked.
In early 2004 records included one at Joonam on January 10th (KSH), and also on January 20th (NM, TE), when two possible hybrids also present, one at Gangneung on March 1st (CSK), and 5 at Seosan on March 11th (KHT), with at least 11 there on March 28th (NM, KLR). In autumn, there were 4 at Seosan on October 30th (NM, PM), 1 at Joonam from November 1st (MIH), with the same or a different adult there on at least December 29th (NM, AG, MIH), and 1 at the Geum estuary on November 14th (PM, JM).

Lesser White-fronted Goose, Seosan, Jan 10th. Photo © KIM Sung-Hyun.

Snow Goose Anser caerulescens
A rare winter visitor, with probably between 3 and 5 individuals annually.
At least one adult was wintering at Seosan (2003/2004). Two adults on October 10th at Seosan were the first of the autumn (KHT), with a presumed immature also recorded at Cheorwon on November 4th (NM, PM), and at adult at Ganghwa on December 21st (PGS)

Cackling Goose Branta hutchinsii
Since the first records in 1992 (Park, 2002), the species has become annual (or nearly so). In 2004, one, possibly an adult minima, at Seosan on November 11th (KHK), 2 at Joonam Reservoir between at least December 6th (MIH) and December 10th (NM) appeared to be an adult leucopareia (based on the presence of an obvious white neck collar in combination with a black chin strap), and an immature leucopariea or minima.

American Wigeon Anas americana
First documented record in 1993 (Park 2002): subsequently few records. Probably annual in very small numbers, but status confused by numerous hybrids. In 2004, a female was on the Nakdong on January 19th (NM, TE), while a presumed first winter male was at Gangneung on February 11th (CSK).

Baikal Teal Anas formosa VULNERABLE
Since the wintering flock was discovered at Joonam Reservoir in the 1980s, the species has increased remarkably to become likely South Korea's most numerous duck, with an estimated total close to 500 000 individuals (Birds Korea). According to the results of a survey of 18 major wetlands on January 15, 2004, however, a total of 658,000 was claimed, with a total nationwide estimate of ca 700 000 (Lee Hansoo in lit, 2004, to Anatidae Working Group members). One eclipse male on the Mangyeung River, Saemanegum July 31st (NM, TH, JS) was the first mid-summer record of the species known to Birds Korea. In autumn, numbers at Seosan built from 2 on September 5th, to 2 500 on September 18th , 17 000 by September 24th and 150 000 by October 3rd (KHT), reaching 300 000 by October 28th (NM, JM, DM, AM). The first flocks arrived in Haenam on October 3rd (PTI), increasing to 20 000 by October 17th and 50 000 by October 24th (LJS), while an estimated 400 000 or so were at the Geum River throughout much of late November and December (NM).

Red-crested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina
A rare winter visitor with probably less than 10 records (all since 1998), and all pre-2004 records close to either the Han or the Nakdong Rivers. In 2004, there were 2, 1 male and 1 female, at Joonam, on January 11th and 12th (EC, PC), with one female still present on January 20th (NM and TE). Towards the end of the year there was a male at the Geum River from December 19th (JM, PN) to at least the 30th (NM, AK), and a female at Joonam photographed on December 23rd (KTJ, MIH).

Female Red-crested Pochard, Joonam, Dec 23rd. Photo © KIM T.J.

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca NEAR-THREATENED
One male, possibly of hybrid origin, at Upo on December 22nd (KSH), is only the second record, after one photograped at Joonam in February 2002.

Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri VULNERABLE
A rare winter visitor or migrant. The only record received in 2004 was of one male on November 13th at Joonam (BH).

Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis
An under-recorded but rare winter visitor, with less than 10 records cited in Park (2002). In 2004, 2 were at Gangneung on March 30th (CJ et al.).

Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus ENDANGERED
A wary and rare winter visitor, with probably between 20 and 50 most winters, and all records pre-2002 falling between November and March. Extremely scarce in winter 2003/2004. In 2004, 2 were photographed in Gyeongsannam Province on February 17th (YPR). On October 27th (the earliest known winter record of the species), 3 males were found in Gyeongsannam Province (NM), with 5 (4 females and one male) in another area ca 10 Km from there on December 30th (NM, AG). In late November, 10 were found in Gangwon Province (SHS).

Yellow-legged Buttonquail Turnix tanki
A scarce and very skulking migrant, most often flushed from long grasses on offshore islands.
In 2004, several records from Socheong Island including: 1 on May 15th (NM); 2 on September 4th (PJY, NM); 4 on September 21st (NM); and 1 on October 11th (NM). One was also on Heuksan Island on September 3rd and another was banded at Gimje, near Saemangeum, on September 15th (LSH).

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
A scarce migrant, most often recorded on western islands in spring. The earliest record in 2004 was of one on Heuksan Island, between March 31st and April 4, with the same or another between April 10th and 11th (PJG). On Eocheong Island also 1 on April 10 (CSH), with 1 also on May 3rd (NM and tour). On Socheong Island, 1 on April 12 (NM), 1 on April 18, (KHJ) and 3 on April 27 (NM et al), with one record also in autumn, a single on August 21st (NM).

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus
A rare migrant recorded only four times in South Korea up to 2002 (three listed in Park, 2002; and a single on Eocheong Island in September 2002). In 2004, 1 was observed on May 15th or 16th, on Eocheong Island (KM) {details requested}, with two further singles on Socheong Island (both photographed), on May 17th (NM), and again on May 20th (NM, GL)

Common Hoopoe Upupa epops
A fairly common summer visitor, with highest numbers of migrants in March and April.
One on January 19th in Gunsan (PN) is only the second mid-winter record known to Birds Korea. The first was also in the Geum River area, in December 2001 (reported in Park, 2002).

Himalayan Swiftlet Collocalia brevirostris
Status unclear. Recorded annually since 2001, with all records from offshore islands between April and August. In 2004, two were on Hong Island on May 4th (PJG).

Pacific Swift Apus pacificus
A locally common summer visitor: earliest arrivals in February (2003); typically most have departed by early October. 1 000 on Socheong Island on August 19th was considered a very high count, and one on November 1st, also on Socheong island, was the latest known record in 2004 (NM, PM).

House Swift Apus affinis
A scarce but regular migrant, with the majority of records along the south coast. In 2004, two, April 29th, on Socheong Island (NM and tour); one, on May 3rd on Eocheong Island (NM and tour); and one, on October 31st, on Socheong Island (NM, PM)

Little Owl Athene noctua
Status unknown. Six specimens exist, collected between August and March (Park, 2002). Five or six records in 2004, following the last record, of one observed near the Dongjin River, Saemanegum in January 2002 (NM, KSK). In 2004, one was reported in Asan City in 'May'; the same observer also reported another in Cheorwon on October 12th (KYJ). On the northwest islands, one was on Socheong Island on September 4th, with another on Baekryong Island, on September 6th (PJY). One was the seen very briefly on September 22nd on Socheong Island followed by the same or another on October 13th (NM).

Northern Boobook Ninox japonica
A regular summer visitor, with most records falling between April and October. No less than 54 were counted flying west over the sea (including a loose flock of 36), ca 50-100 km southwest of Incheon harbor, on April 29th (NM and tour).

Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
A regular summer visitor, with most records falling between April and October. In 2004, the earliest reported was one on April 7th, on Eocheong Island (CJ et al.). An amazing 84 were counted moving west over the sea from the hydrofoil between Socheong Island and Incheon on April 29th (NM and tour), while 9 were also seen between Eocheong Island and Gunsan harbor on May 4th (NM and tour).

Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
First recorded in 1993, with the 2nd and 3rd records in 2001 (Park 2002). Probably not annual.
One on Hatei island on May 26th (KDW).

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Specimen record suggests it was formerly more widespread. Last collected in 1961. First sight record was on Eocheong Island in October 2000 (Park, 2002). Subsequently at least two autumn records in Gangneung, coastal Gangwon Province, and another on Gangwha Island in 2002 (2, October 13th).
In 2004, one was photographed on Heuksan Island on October 15th-16th (KSH).

Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
Approximately 6 previous records (Park, 2002). An adult found at Seosan on November 18th roosted overnight, before migrating south on the 19th (KHT). The same afternoon it was then relocated on Daeheuksan Island, where it again roosted overnight, last being seen on the 20th in the morning (PJG).

Siberian White Crane, Heuksan Island, November 20th. © Park Jong Gil.

White-naped Crane Grus vipio VULNERABLE
The White-naped Crane is a very well-researched, regular winter visitor and migrant through South Korea. According to Park (2004) the South Korean population of this species is 2 200+, out of the flyway population of 3 200, almost all of which are wintering at Izumi in Japan. This appears to be a slightly conservative estimate, however, as all Japan-wintering White-naped Cranes must pass through South Korea on migration, several hundred winter in South Korea, and the possibility must exist that at least some of the China-wintering population also pass through Korea, albeit irregularly. Most staging migrants (late February-March and again in October-November) are in areas adjacent to the DMZ (most especially the Cheorwon basin, where ca 300 also winter), and in the Han-Imjin, where numbers are declining (Lee Ki-Seup, pers. com, 2004). A small group also winters at Joonam Reservoir, while southward movements have been noted in both December 2003 and 2004 in the southeast, in response to freezing temperatures.
In January (at least 13th-20th), 28 were at Joonam (EC, PC, NM, TE). In February, between 17th and 23rd a nationwide count (presumably mostly of wintering birds) produced a total of ca 763, including (per LKS): 255 at Samsulbong in Cheolwon (17th); 328 at Daemari in Cheolwon (18th-19th); 89 at Gimhwa in Cheolwon, (17th), ca 20 at Yeoncheon, (23rd, PSG); and 71 at the Han-Imjin estuary (20th). At Joonam, 39 were present on the 27th (MIH), presumably including a few early returning migrants. On March 8th, 600 were present on the Han-Imjin, with 200 also Cheorwon (NM, PV, PM), with only 85 at the Han-Imjin by March 29th (NM, LKR). No information on early returning autumn migrants was received. In autumn, 15 were counted at Joonam on October 27th (MIH), with at least 30 on the Han-Imjin on October 29th (NM, JM, DM, AM) and 88 at Cherowon and Han-Imjin on November 4th (NM, PM). A movement involving probably 300 individuals was noted in the southeast of the country on December 21st and 22nd (following a significant drop in temperature), with 200 at the Nakdong estuary on 21st and 22nd (CSJ, KHY), 80 at Joonam on 21st (MIH), and 10 at Upo (KSK). A national round-up of numbers in the last 10 days of December (organized by LKS) produced a suggested total of ca 2 670, with 2 290 in Cheorwon and ca 160 in the Han-Imjin estuary, along with 250 in the Nakdong '“ the latter apparently gone by the 29th (NM, AG). Of interest is that only very low numbers of the species were present at Izumi in Kyushu, Japan, through November (with e.g. only 224 by November 13th and 384 by November 27th: per Akiyo Nakamichi/Kantori).

Common Crane Grus grus
A scarce migrant with occasional singles wintering. Status confused by presence of apparent hybrids with Hooded Crane present in the wintering flock at Suncheon.
In 2004, one at Seosan on April 9th (CJ et al), two at Seosan on October 28th (NM, DM, AM), and 3 there on at least October 29th (NM, PM)

Hooded Crane Grus monacha VULNERABLE
A local migrant with largest numbers staging at one or two sites in the Nakdong River (most especially at Gumi in autumn), and two small wintering groups: one group at Suncheon Bay (where between 100 and 150 are present most winters), and one group (from ca 2000) in Seosan, where perhaps as many as 40 or 50 are present. Based on the high proportion of hybrids in both groups, it is likely that many of the two groups are shared, moving between both sites. According to Park (2004) approximately 4 000 + of the Flyway's population of 8 500 Hooded Crane are supported by South Korean wetlands, with a declining population trend. This appears to be a conservative estimate, however, as the entire Japan-wintering Hooded Crane population must migrate through South Korea.
Few records received for the early part of the year, with e.g. very small counts of 22 at Suncheon on January 11th (EC, PC). A February census produced a count of 180 at Suncheon Bay on February 18th (CIH), with 1 at Cheorwon and 4 at Seosan (KHT). At Seosan numbers had increased to 23 by March 1st (KHT), with 31 on March 20th (NM, MH), and 53 at Taean on March 27th (KHT). 42 were still at Seosan on March 28 (NM, KLR), with 20 still there on April 9 (CJ et al), while 7 remained at Suncheon until at least April 4th (CJ et al.). In April, other migrants included 25 at Gangneung in the northeast on April 7th (PUN), where at least 6 remained until April 19th (CSK). There were also 5 at Gimpo on April 10th (CJ et al), and one at Okku, Saemangeum on April 11th (JM, PN). In autumn at Gumi, 11 were reported on October 19th (LSW), 8 on October 24th (JH), 60 on October 26th and 2 200 on October 27th (LSW). 55 also arrived at Seosan on October 26th (KHT), increasing to 65 on October 30th (NM, PM), with 3 also at Joonam on October 27th (MIH). Ca 110 were present at Suncheon Bay on October 29th (CIH). 5 on Jeju island on November 1st (KCW) is an exceptional record for there (like the Siberian Crane in November perhaps attempting migration across the lower part of the Yellow Sea to Chinese wintering areas), while 278 were counted moving southwest over Upo Ramsar site and Joonam on November 7th (KSK, JYH, KTJ). 71 grounded birds on November 9th at Joonam had increased to 250 by the 10th (MIH), departing before the 13th (BH). In December, there were 195 at Suncheon Bay on the 22nd, and one on the Han River on the 28th (per LKS).

Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis ENDANGERED
A scarce and local winter visitor, with ca 600 believed wintering in South Korea, mostly in the Cheorwon area. A late winter census in February (per LKS) recorded 367 at Samsulbong, Cheorwon (17th); 107 at Daemari, Cheorwon (18-19th); 116 at Gimhwa in Cheolwon (17th); ca 40 at Yeoncheon (on 23rd: by PSG). In the same period on February 22nd there were also at least 3 on Ganghwa Island (TE, BH). The latest record received was of 2 in Cheorwon on March 21st (per NM), while the first report in autumn received was of one on November 4th at Cheorwon (PM, NM). On December 26th and 27th, 653 were in the Cheorwon basin, 10 at Ganghwa/Gimpo and 72 in the Yeoncheon area (per LKS).

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
Since the first record in 1970, an increasingly recorded migrant which is considered to have bred at least once. In 2004, one on, Eocheong Island on May 2nd had increased to 2 by May 4th (NM and tour), with also two on Socheong Island (NM). On Hong Island, there were 2 on May 5-6th; 3 on May 7th and 2 on May 20th (PJG).

Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii NEAR-THREATENED
An immature on Socheong Island on September 21st (NM) was the eighth record, with previous most recent records being one in 1962, and a specimen collected in 1995, in the Seoul/Gyeonggi area (PJG in lit).
The species has been moved from category 4 to category 1 of the Birds Korea unofficial checklist.

Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
Considered an uncommon passage migrant and perhaps scarce winter visitor (Lee, Koo, Park: 2000), one on June 1st on Socheong Island and one apparently taken into care in July in Seosan, with a damaged bill (per KHT) appear to suggest that at least some are present in summer.

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
A fairly numerous migrant. One on January 10th (EC, PC) is likely the first wintering record of the species (following on from two very late individuals seen at the Geum on December 14th 2003 by PN and JM). On August 1st, ca 5 300 in the Saemangeum estuarine system was also considered an exceptional early autumn count (NM, TH, JS).

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
The earliest record was of 1on March 20th at Seosan (NM, MH).

Little Curlew Numenius minutus
A scarce migrant, found annually on offshore islands in spring. In 2004, there were singles on April 20th (NM, RR), and again from May 1st '“May 3rd on Eocheong Island (NM and tour); with two on Heuksan Island on April 26th (KST); and one on Socheong on April 27th (NM and tour). In autumn, one was at Seosan on September 18th (KHT).

Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis
A regular migrant with often several hundred over-summering. 15 on March 7th on the Geum River estuary were the first flock reported to Birds Korea (JM, PN). 200 on June 20th on the Geum River were also noteworthy (JM, PN), as were 500 at Ganghwa on July 16 (PGS).

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
A local and uncommon migrant, with very small numbers over-wintering in the far southwest. First northward migrant was noted on Feb 15th at the Geum estuary (PN, JM). Highest counts included 100+ on March 29th at the Han-Imjin (NM, KLR), and a staggering and internationally important count of 2500 ' between Seosan and Ganghwa' (CJ et al.) on April 10th. If confirmed this record would be many times higher than the previous maximum counts recorded in South Korea.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus
A local and uncommon migrant. In 2004, at least 56, including 2 juveniles, on the Dongjin estuary, Saemangeum, on July 31st, increased to 65 on August 1st (TH, JS, NM). This appears to be the highest national count to date.

Nordmann's Greenshank Tringa guttifer ENDANGERED
A scarce and local migrant, very much overlooked and largely confined to extensive estuarine tidal-flats, with perhaps 100 '“ 200 in South Korea annually. The majority of records are in autumn (with the peak in October), with largest previous counts in the Saemangeum estuarine system (i.e. 61 October 21st-23rd, 1998: Moores b, 1999). In 2004, the only records received were:
Yeongjong Island: 1 on April 25 and May 7th (NM et al), 1 on May 21st (NM and GL) and 1 on May 26th (GL).
Saemangeum: 1, Mangyeung River, May 5th (NM and tour) and August 2nd (NM); 3, Dongjin River,May 6th (NM and tour).

Geum River: one, May 6th (NM and tour)
Ganghwa, Island: one, August 12th (TH, JS)
Hongseong near Seosan, at least 3 between September 11th and October 3rd (PUS, KHT)

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
One near Gunsan on November 21st (JM, PN) is considered exceptionally late and is presumed the latest record nationally to date.

Terek Sandpiper Tringa cinereus
A rather numerous migrant. High counts from the early autumn period included: 100 at Ganghwa on July 16th (PGS), 900 at Yeongjong on July 29th; 250 on the Geum , 2 5000+ on the Dongjin estuary, and 800 on the Mangyeung estuary (both Saemangeum) between July 31st and August 2nd (TH, JS, NM).

Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus
First recorded on October 21st 1998 at Saemangeum (Moores, 1999a), it is a scarce migrant and perhaps rare winter visitor, recorded annually in recent years (with more than 10 records in total). Two records in 2004: one photographed at the Geum River barrage on May 6th (MD, NM and tour), and one at Yeongjong Island on May 20th (NM).

Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus NEAR-THREATENED
First recorded only in 1993, the species is a scarce migrant, recorded annually in recent years. Two records in 2004: one adult at the Dongjin estuary, Saemangeum, on August 1st (TH, NM, JS), and a juvenile photographed at Seosan on August 8th (JS, TH).

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris
A locally very numerous migrant, largely dependent on the Saemangeum estuarine system and the neighboring Geum. Early autumn counts at the Dongjin and Mangyeung estuaries, Saemangeum included, more than 9 000 already present on July 31st, with between 15 000 and 20 000 estimated there on August 1st and 18 000 on August 2nd (NM, TH, JS)

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmea ENDANGERED
A very local migrant, most numerous in autumn in the Saemangeum area.
3 on the Mangyeung, Saemangeum (NM and tour) on May 6th were the first of the year reported to Birds Korea. On August 1st, 2-3 were on the Dongjin estuary (JS, TH, NM), with one on the Mangyeung on August 2nd (TH). At least 8 were found on the Nakdong estuary on September 15th (CSJ), with ca 10 present at Saemangeum at the same time (CSH), and several (8 or 10?) at Yubu Island (outer Geum River), containing one leg-flagged individual. One on Jeju on October 4th was joined by a second bird on October 6th (KCW). Three were still on the Mangyeung, Saemangeum, between October 15th and 17th (CSH).

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Jeju, 4th Oct. Photo © Gang C.W..

Little Stint Calidris minuta
A very scarce migrant, first claimed in 1996 (Park, 2002), with fewer than 10 records subsequently. Recorded annually in recent years. In 2004, one identified at medium-long range by TH and JS on the Dongjin estuary, Saemangeum, on July 31st.

Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus
First recorded in 1993 (Park, 2002), and now recorded annually, especially in summer.
Two were present from July 3rd on Jeju (KCH).

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus (ostralegus) osculans
An estimated several hundred pairs nest in South Korea (LH, 2004), with most wintering at one site: Yubu Island, at the mouth of the Geum River.

Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus (ostralegus) osculans, Hampyong. April 2nd.
Photo © KIM Sung-Hyun.

The distinct osculans is best considered a separate species based on disjunct breeding range; difference in measurements from other subspecies; and in differences in plumage (most especially non-breeding adults and immatures do not develop a full white neck collar, at most showing only a fairly faint trace). The single most important wintering area for this taxon is the threatened Yubu Island tidal-flats. A count of 2 000, in the Geum River on January 8th (PN and JM) is fairly modest (a maximum count there on January 19th, 2002, of 5 300 represents more than 50 % of the estimated minimum population of the species).

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
An increasingly recorded migrant, most especially in spring, with breeding since at least 1998.
In 2004, the colony at Seosan, remains extant, with 65 individuals present in June (KHT); in addition, nesting was reported in Haenam for the first time on June 5th (LJS).

Possible Pied Stilt Himantopus (himantopus) leucocephalus or hybrid, Seosan.
Photo © KIM Hyun Tae.

Of some interest, an adult male showing plumage characters of the often split Pied Stilt Himantopus (himantopus) leucocephalus was photographed at Seosan on August 1st (KHT) and again on September 14th (KSH). Possibly the same individual was also photographed by KHT in 2000, nesting(!). This (sub-)species has not been recorded in Korea, though there have been several records in e.g. Japan. Another individual photographed on the East coast at Gangneung on April 24th (CTH) appeared to show characters perhaps intermediate between nominate and leucocephalus (either a product of hybridization or of extreme variation in nominate himantopus?).

Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus
A very scarce migrant, possibly annual in the far southwest. In 2004, one on April 10-11th (PJG) and one on April 25th, Heuksan Island (KST)

Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus
A very scarce migrant, with several records annually (largely concentrated on western islands, at Seosan and on the east coast). The only records received in 2004 were of one on Socheong Island, May 17th (NM); 2 at Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on September 20th (SHS), and one at Seosan on September 24th (KSH).

Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum
An increasingly recorded species. In 2004, several records on offshore islands, and most significantly apparent breeding in or near Seosan. Spring records in 2004 included: 1 on Gageo Island, April 10-12th (KSH); 1 on Socheong, April 27 (NM et al), with another on May 20th (NM and GL); 1 at Ganghwa on April 30th (NM and tour); one on Eocheong Island on May 3rd (NM and tour); and one on Hong Island, May 3rd-4th (PJG). At Seosan, 9 were seen on April 25th, with at least 11 on April 27th (KHT). Occasional birds were then in the area throughout the summer. On July 17th, a flock of 32 was found, containing two recently fledged juveniles, strongly suggesting local breeding. The first presumed breeding record in South Korea (KHT). In addition a single bird was also seen in Gangneung on June 26th, and was presumed to be the first record of the species in that area (PJUY).

South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki
First recorded in 1995, the South Polar Skua is increasingly recorded in autumn. In 2004, at sea between Socheong Island and Incheon two were seen on September 9th; one on September 23rd; two on October 4th; and 1 on October 19th (all NM). The latest was one on November 3rd from the same ferry (NM, PM).

Pomarine Jaeger Stercorarius pomarinus
Not listed in Lee, Koo and Park (2000), this species is now known to be relatively numerous in Korean waters, most especially in autumn, with an obvious peak in late October. In 2004, one at sea near Busan on January 10th (NM) is the first January record. Records in 2004 from the ferry between Socheong Island and Incheon harbor included: one on August 23rd; 4 on September 4th; 7 on September 9th; 9 on September 23rd; 49 on October 4th ; 42 on October 19th (all NM); 82 on October 31st (NM, PM); 51 on November 3 (NM, PM); 40 on November 5th; and 25 on November 13th, when observations ceased (NM). Also 5 were seen from Socheong island itself on October 18th (NM).

Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus
An uncommon migrant. In 2004 the only records received were of observations at sea between Socheong Island and Incheon. The first was on April 29th (NM and tour), with in autumn, one on September 7th (PJY) followed by another on the same ferry on September 9th (NM), 2 on October 4th (NM), and 1 on October 31st (NM, PM).

Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
A very common and widespread species, nesting on islands along all three coasts. 5 500 counted at sea between Socheong island and waters ca 40 km west of Incheon City on October 19th (NM) was a very high count, several times higher than previous ferry journeys suggesting significant movement at this time.

Thayer's Gull Larus thayeri
An adult was photographed at Jumunjin on December 18th (NM). This is about the eighth claim of the species in South Korea, all since 1999.

Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus
Although fairly numerous in winter (October-March), 14 at Guryongpo and on Pohang Dongbu beach on August 30th (NM), including one 'fresh' juvenile seems a significant record (especially considering the distance from known breeding colonies).

Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus
A numerous species, wintering commonly in the northwest, and breeding locally on several islands in the Korean part of the Yellow Sea. In 2004, a significant high count of 200 at the Geum estuary already by July 31st, including 15 juveniles, 2 of which appeared quite recently fledged (NM, TH, JS).

American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus
A juvenile, presumably of this taxon, was at Jumunjin on December 18th (NM). Although there have been between five and ten recent records in South Korea, criteria for separation from extreme individuals of vegae and birulai and even intergrades/hybrids between the various taxa are perhaps not well-established.

Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus
First recorded in December 2002. In 2004, one near breeding-plumaged adult photographed on the Han River, Seoul on February 7th (KDH) was the 4th record.

Saunders's Gull Larus saundersi VULNERABLE
Surveys in January 1999 (NM) and 2002 (NM, KSK) suggest approximately 3000 winter in South Korea annually. Nesting first noted in 1998 (Moores, 1999).
In 2004, 200 at the Geum estuary on January 8th (JM, PN) and 220 at Song Do on January 25th (TE) were both fairly high counts. Although up to 30 were present on reclaimed land adjacent to the Incheon International Airport at Yeongjong between April and June, the site contained no birds in July (NM). Desertion of this colony was made likely by an increase in development work and by the presumably illegal practice (being promoted in 2004) of shooting at all birds near the airport by special airport patrols '“ presumably to reduce the danger of bird-strike. At least 61 near Shihwa/Song Do, with 11 young juveniles on July 29th was evidence of successful breeding at that small colony (NM, TH, JS), while 25 at Ganghwa on August 12th (with 8 juveniles) suggested another local colony had also had some success (TH, JS).

1st winter Saunders's Gull, Okku, Oct 28th. Photo © KIM Hyun Tae

Relict Gull Larus relictus VULNERABLE
A scarce winter visitor, much more numerous in cold rather than mild winters, most regular between December and February. Observations in 2004 at the Nakdong estuary included: 3 on January 13th (NM, EC, PC); 2 first winters on January 19th (NM); 1 on February 24th (NM); and one on March 18th (NM). Three were also seen at Song Do, on February 8th (TE). Slightly unseasonal records included one first winter on March 28th at Seosan (NM, KLR), and one first winter on the Dongjin River, Saemangeum on October 30th (NM, PM). The latter is the earliest record of the species in South Korea known to Birds Korea. In December the only report known to Birds Korea was of one first winter on the Nakdong estuary on the 29th (NM, AG).

Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
A fairly common migrant and winter visitor to South Korean waters, though largely under-recorded.
In 2004, 150 at sea near Busan, January 10th (NM) was considered a high count for the Korean Straits.
The previous highest counts for the Korean Yellow Sea came from Socheong island in 2003 (334 on October 12th and from the Socheong Island-Incheon ferry, with 500 on October 24th , 2003) In 2004, highest counts from the same ferry included c 2 200 on October 15th; 3 800 on October 31st (NM, PM); 5 800 on November 3rd (NM, PM); and 3 500 on November 5th (NM).

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
First recorded in 2001, since when it has become annual. One on Jeju on October 8th (KCW) comprises probably the sixth or seventh record.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo
A fairly common migrant at sea, especially in autumn. A count of 921 at sea between Socheong Island and Incheon on August 23rd 2004 (NM) is the highest count of the species in the Korean Yellow Sea known to Birds Korea. Previous highest day counts have come from the Nakdong (1 000 on September 8th, 1990) on the south coast, and Pohang (700 on September 8th, 2000), on the east coast.

Aleutian Tern Sterna aleutica
At least one was seen well (but not photographed) from the high-speed ferry between Socheong Island and Incheon on August 23rd, followed by another (one or two) on September 4th (NM). These are the first records of the species in South Korea, and the species has been added to category 2 of the unofficial Birds Korea checklist.

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
Increasingly recorded in summer months, since the first in 1988. In 2004, one was in Gangneung on June 26th (CSK), and one was at Seosan on June 29th with the same or another on August 28th (KHT). Four were found in the Dongjin estuary, Saemangeum, on August 2nd (NM, TH, JS), and possibly up to 10 were counted on Jeju Island on September 13th (KCH), with one also on Hong Island on September 16th (PJG).

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus
An uncommon migrant. 12 on the Mangyeung River, Saemangeum, on May 23rd (JM, PN), 29 at Seosan on August 28th (KHT) and 15 at the Mangyeung on September 5th (PN) were the highest counts of the year.

Steller's Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus VULNERABLE
A regular winter visitor in very small numbers. Few reports were received, though probably 5-10 over-wintered. One wintered in the Haenam area (LJS); one or two in the Seosan area (with 2 seen on January 18th: KHT); one or two in the Cheorwon area; and probably one or more in Gangwon Province.

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus NEAR-THREATENED
The species is an increasingly numerous winter visitor to South Korea, with an estimated 1000 or 1200 present in recent winters. Few significant reports from the first half of the year received.
In autumn, one at the Imjn River/Imjingak on November 13th (MH) had increased to 11 by November 14th (SYG), and 110 by November 27th

Eurasian Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
An immature female-type at Seosan on September 12th (photographed by KHT) and an immature female (perhaps the same individual?) watched at distance flying between Socheong Island and neighboring islands on September 19th and 20th (NM) were both either Eurasian Marsh or hybrid Eurasian x Eastern Marsh Harriers C. spilonotus.

Possible hybrid Eurasian Marsh x Eastern Marsh Harrier, Seosan, Sept 12th.
Photo © KIM Hyun Tae.

Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos
Considered a rare passage migrant to South Korea by Lee, Koo and Park (2000), the series of records made on Socheong Island in 2003 and 2004 suggest that although it is uncommon, it is the most numerous harrier in South Korea in September and October. In 2004, spring records included a female on Eocheong Island on April 20th (RR, NM), and one on Socheong Island on June 2nd (NM). In the autumn, at least two singles were seen at Seosan, on September 9th (LHS) and 26th (PUS), while records on Socheong Island made by NM between September 4th and October 31st comprised over 40 individuals, with a maximum of 10 on September 19th.

Black Kite Milvus migrans
A scarce and local resident, migrant, and locally numerous winter visitor to the far southeast of the country. 220 going to roost, at Dadapo, Nakdong, Busan on February 24th (NM) was the highest count of the year. The earliest autumn migrant on Socheong Island was logged on September 6th, with a peak there of 54 on October 10th (NM).

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
A fairly common migrant and local winter visitor. 58 on October 9th on Socheong Island was likely the highest day count of the year, while a presumed albidus was also seen briefly in flight there on November 2nd (NM, PM).

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
A fairly numerous migrant and winter visitor. Two over-summered on Socheong Island, both perhaps due to poor condition.

Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius
A very scarce winter visitor, apparently rather more numerous on migration, with highest numbers in March and again in late October. Records in 2004 include: one at Seosan on January 10th (KHT); one at Guryongpo, on January 14th (NM, EC, PC); one at Ganghwa on January 18th (PC EC); one on March 8th at Cheorwon (NM and PV, PM); 2 at Seosan and 1 on the Taean coastline on March 20 (NM, MH); 1 at Cheorwon on 20th (PdH), with another there on March 21st (NM, MH); 2, on Socheong Island on March 23rd and 25th (NM); 3 at Seosan on March 28th (NM, KLR); and one at Seosan on March 30th (KHT). On Socheong Island, a presumed Upland Buzzard remained until early June. It was not seen on visits to the island in August or September. In autumn, counts by NM on Socheong Island included 6 on October 9th; 4 on October 10th ; 1 on October 14th; 1 on October 18th; 5 on October 31st (NM, PM) and one on November 13th (NM). On the mainland, two were at Taean on October 28th (NM, DM, JM, AM), and one was also at Imjingak on November 13th (MH). One was present at Seosan throughout much of December (KHT).

Rough-legged Buzzard >Buteo lagopus
Apparently once regular, but in recent years becoming a very scarce winter visitor to South Korea.
One was at Ganghwa on January 18th (PC, EC), and in December one was at Seosan on 18th (KHT) and another at Gangnueng on 26th (SHS).

Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga VULNERABLE
A very scarce winter visitor and rather more regular migrant, most especially in October and November. In 2004, ca 10 individuals reported.
One was at Seosan on January 18th (KHT), with another there on March 28th (NM, KLR). In autumn, 3 were seen moving northwest from Socheong Island on October 12th with 1-2 also on October 13th (NM); 4 were Seosan on October 16th, with three still there on October 17th (KHT); and 2 were on Heuksan Island between October 24th and 26th, with one also on Hong Island (PJG). Three were at Seosan on December 26th (KHT).

Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca VULNERABLE
A very scarce winter visitor and migrant, with typically between 3 and ca 10 individuals annually. In 2004, only two records were received by Birds Korea: one at Seosan between at least January 16th and 18th, with the same or another there on December 26th (KHT).

Masked Booby Sula dactylatra
One was apparently picked up moribund on September 24th in the Nakdong estuary (per KSK). This is the second record for Korea.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta
One dark-morph bird was photographed at Seosan on August 8th (KHT): the first record of this morph in Korea.

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes VULNERABLE
Few significant reports in 2004 of this still fairly widespread summer visitor: 27 at Ganghwa on July 16th (PGS); 25 at Yeongjong and 12 at Shihwa on July 29th (NM, TH, JS) were evidence of post-breeding dispersal, while a single juvenile on Socheong Island on September 19th (NM) was likely a migrant. A juvenile with colored leg rings was photographed on the east coast at Gangneung on August 27th (CSK).

Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
Apparently first recorded only in 1988, this is an increasingly regularly-recorded species, most especially on offshore islands along the west coast, and also inland in the Cheorwon basin. The earliest record received in 2004 was one on April 20th on Eocheong Island (NM, RR). In addition to island migrants, one was at Ganghwa on July 27th with 3 there on August 12th (TH, JS); and one was also at Seosan on September 4th (KSH).

Japanese Night Heron Gorsachius goisagi ENDANGERED
With 9 specimens (last apparently 'collected' in 2001) and only 5 other published records prior to 2002 (Park, 2002), this is a rare migrant through South Korea. In 2004, 4 records were made on offshore islands, stretching along the west coast, in April and in May. One was on Hatei Island on April 24th (KDW); another (stunningly confiding) individual was on Socheong Island between April 27th and at least May 20th (NM and tour, KST, GL); one was on Hong Island on May 11th (GGK); and one or more were on Eocheong island, with one reported in early May and the same or another on at least May 15th or 16th (KM)

Japanese Night Heron, Socheong, April 27th. Photo © Nial MOORES

Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis
A rare overshooting migrant, first recorded in 1990, with records at least in 2000 and 2003. In 2004, an adult male was on Hatei Island on May 26th (KDW) '“ the same island as in 2000.

Cinammon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
First recorded in 1983, there have been less than 5 records since. In 2004, 2 were on Heuksan Island on May 22nd (PJG)

Black-headed/Oriental Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus NEAR-THREATENED
One photographed at Song Do, on September 28th (PHW) was only the second record of the species in Korea (the first being in November 1982).

White Spoonbill Platelea leucorodia
An uncommon winter visitor (with occasional over-summering). A coordinated survey in January 2004 produced a total of ca 210 individuals at known sites. However, ca 300 were counted in Haenam on February 13th, when also 39 at Seosan (KHT) suggesting the total might be rather higher, and considering other known sites perhaps closer to 400 individuals. In the Mangyeung estuary, Saemangeum, there were still 12 present as late as April 25th, with 7 there until May 2nd. (PN, JM). Three were still at Seosan on May 1 (NM and tour). One at Ganghwa on July 27th (TH, JS) was presumably an over-summering individual, loosely associating with a local Black-faced Spoonbill colony. In the autumn, 33 were near Gunsan on October 24th (JM, PN), and 16 were on the Dongjin River, Saemangeum, on October 24th (CSH).

Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor ENDANGERED
South Korea supports a very significant percentage of the world's breeding and staging population; and a small number of over-wintering individuals. In 2004, 23 were counted on Jeju in mid-January (KCW, KEM) with one in Haenam (HSH, CCY). The first returning migrants were 12 on the Han-Imjin, on March 28th (LKS) and 4 at Ganghwa, on March 29th (NM, LKR). In addition, 2 on April 2nd in the Nakdong estuary, Busan (CJ et al) might have been local winterers or newly-arrived migrants. In the autumn, 30 were at Ganghwa on July 24th (NM et al), increasing to 35 there on July 28th (including one bird banded in Taiwan), and 56 by August 12th (JS, TH). Also 13 at Yeongjong Island on July 29th (NM, TH, JS) provided further evidence of post-breeding gathering. The highest concentration reported in the autumn was 182 at Ganghwa on October 10th (NSA), with flocks of 77 and 97 still present until at least October 23rd (JJH). 34 at Song Do on October 17th and 33 on October 23rd (KDH) are both late and internationally important counts. 15 were at the Dongjin River estuary, Saemangeum, on October 30th (NM, PM), while 13 had returned to their regular wintering area on Jeju by November 10th (KCW).

Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Rare in East Asia, with presumably a threatened flyway population. Increasingly recorded in South Korea, both in winter and on migration. In 2004, 5 were in the Daedong area in mid-January (KSJ), with a mid-winter peak of 13 individuals (PSC). One was still present there on April 2nd (KSH). During migration, the only record received was of 3 immatures moving west, Socheong Island on October 31st (PM, NM).

Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana ENDANGERED
A local and rare winter visitor to South Korea, with between 20 and 30 individuals in most recent winters.
In 2004, 12 were in Haenam on January 10th (EC, PC), with 1 at Seosan on January 23rd (KHT). However, 25+ were in Haenam with 5 in Seosan on February 13th (KHT), with a record breaking count of 57 on around February 17th (per LJS). In March, 3 were at Seosan on the 1st, with 10 found during census work on March 9th (KHT). In autumn, the only reports received so far have been of 1, from at least October 17th - December 26th, at Seosan (PN, JM, KHT etc), one in the DMZ in early winter (details being sought), and ca 5 in the Haenam area (PSC).

Great Frigatebird Fregeta minor
A 4th or 5th calendar year female taken into care on Jeju Island on August 19th (KCW) is the first record of this species in Korea.

Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel
Approximately 6 documented records pe-2002 (Park, 2002). In 2004, one was photographed on Socheong Island on August 9th (TH, JS); and another was photographed on Eocheong Island on October 1st (KSH).

Yellow-billed LoonGavia adamsii
Considered a rare winter visitor to South Korea by Lee, Koo and Park (2000), recent satellite tracking initiatives in Alaska suggest many northern Yellow-billed Loon likely migrate across DPRK to winter in the Yellow Sea, perhaps mainly near the Shandong Peninsula. In 2004, one was present in eastern Jeju in February at least to March 10th (NM, PV, PM). Several (up to 8) large pale loons seen very far offshore from Socheong Island on March 25th (NM) were considered very likely to be this species, while 1, in near-breeding plumage was seen ca 50 Km SE of Socheong Island on April 16th (NM); with another in breeding-plumage also at sea between Socheong Island and Incheon on May 1st (KST)

Bonin Petrel Pterodroma hypoleuca
One found dead on Jeju Island on August 15th and photographed by KCW was the second record for South Korea.

Flesh -ooted Shearwater Puffinus carneipes
This is an uncommon migrant, most frequent in autumn. In 2004, NM saw a total of 14 individuals on 7 different dates, between Socheong Island and Incheon, between August 18th and October 31st (NM, PM), with a maximum of only 4 on September 23rd.

Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris
This is an uncommon migrant, in summer months April to October. In 2004, 'several' were seen between Gunsan and Eocheong on August 3rd and 4th (TH and JS), while at sea between Socheong Island and Incheon, there was one on June 3rd; 2 on August 18th; 2 on August 23rd and one on October 18th (NM).

Swinhoe's Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis
A regular breeding species with several colonies. Noteworthy counts from the ferry between Incheon and Socheong Island in 2004 included 148 on August 18th, 178 on August 23rd and 155 on September 4th (NM).

Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha VULNERABLE
A scarce and local breeding species, most numerous on Jeju. At least one pair on Jeju Island was monitored and filmed by researchers into August (per BH), while the only record of a migrant received was of one on Socheong Island, on September 17th (NM)

Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
A first year found, photographed and banded by PJG on September 16th is the first record of this species in South Korea.

Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
A migrant and summer visitor, considered to have declined very significantly in recent years. In 2004, maximum counts on Socheong Island comprised 70 on May 17th, and in autumn, 55 on August 19th and 65 on August 21st (NM).

Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
An increasingly recorded species since the first in 1994.
In 2004, approximately 10 records, with most in April and September. One apparently over-wintered on Jeju (being photographed by KHT on February 28th), while spring records included one on April 8th at Sockcho on the NE coast (CTH); one on April 10th on Eocheong Island (CSH); and one between April 8th-12th, on Hatei Island (KSH). Autumn records comprised one on August 8th at Seosan (KHT); and a series of records from Hong Island: one on September 2nd, one on September 8th and 14th; two on September 24th and one on September 25th; and one between November the 13-18th (PJG). One was also apparently present on Heuksan Island at least until December 22nd (PJG).

Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor
A bird identified as a Great Grey Shrike at Gangneung on January 14th (CSK) appears either to be a Chinese Grey or possibly a Steppe/Saxaul Grey Shrike.

Steppe/Saxaul Grey Shrike Lanius (meridionalis) pallidirostris
An adult was photographed on September 22nd on Socheong Island (NM). After a period of consultation the species has been added to category 1 of the unofficial Birds Korea checklist.

Steppe/Saxaul Grey Shrike, Socheong Island, Sept 22nd. Photo © Nial MOORES

Chinese Grey Shrike Lanius sphenocercus
A scarce migrant and winter visitor, with probably 10-20 most autumn/winters, with a small breeding population also established in the DMZ.
Only four birds were reported to Birds Korea in early 2004: one at Haenam, on January 10th (EC, PC); one at Suncheon on January 11th (EC, PC); one at Seosan on February 1st (KHT, KJH); and one at Okku, Saemangeum, Gunsan, on February 13th (JM, PN). The first autumn record was of 2 on September 2nd on Hong Island, with one the next day on Heuksan Island (PJG). On September 11th, one was at the Mangyeung, Saemanegeum (PN), with the same or another present in the same general area until at least October 31st (CSH), followed shortly after by one on Socheong Island on September 14th and one on Hong Island on September 21st (PJG). Birds were present at least on Hong Island (PJG, KDW) and at Seosan (CSH, KHT) in December.

Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
An increasingly recorded spring overshoot. In 2004, rather fewer records than in 2003, with probably 16 individuals in total. On Socheong Island: one on May 1st (KST); 2 on May 15th '“16th (NM); 3-4, on May 18th (NM, GL); one on May 30th; three on June 1st ; and one in off the sea on June 3rd (all NM). On Daeheuksan Island there were 3 from May 4th-6th and 2 on May 18th (PJG), while one was also on Hong Island from May 19-22nd (PJG).

Spangled Drongo Terpsiphone atrocaudata
A rare spring overshoot, with less than 5 previous records. In 2004, one was on Hong Island on May 6th (PJG), and one was on Eocheong Island on May 8th (KHT).

Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica NEAR-THREATENED
An irruptive species, most regular in early spring. Only small numbers were reported in 2004.
There were ca 30 in Busan on March 10th (NM, PV, PM); 15 in Gwangju City on March 14th (KSH); one on Hong Island between March 20th and 30th (PJG); 20 on Eocheong Island on April 1st (NM); 2 in Seoul on April 1st and one on April 2nd (MH); and 2 on Socheong Island on May 14th (NM).

White-throated Rock Thrush Monticola gularis
A rather scarce migrant, most especially in May. In 2004, one was on Eocheong Island on May 11th (KST); one was in mainland Gunsan on May 15th (PN); another was on Eocheong Island on May 15th or 16th (KM); and on Socheong Island, there were 2 on May 14th , and 4 on May 15th (NM).

Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina
One photographed on Hong Island on May 8th (KSH) constitutes the first record for South Korea.

Chinese Blackbird Turdus (merula) mandarinus
Since the first record in July 1999 (of a small breeding 'colony'), the species has been increasingly recorded, most especially as an early spring migrant on offshore islands. Records in 2004 received involve ca 15 individuals. Two were on Hong Island on March 20th-21st (PJG), with one there also on April 8th (PJG, KSH); one was on Heuksan Island on April 10th-11th; two were on the mainland at Taean on March 20th (NM, MH); two on March 22nd (NM), one on April 26th and 27th (NM and tour) were on Socheong Island; one was on Eocheong Island on March 31st (NM), with two between April 17th-18th, and one on the 19th (NM, RR, CSH), with one also present until May 4th (NM and tour). One was also on Gageo Island between April 10th and 12th (KSH). In autumn only one record: one on Hong island between November 11th and 13th (PJG).

Grey Thrush Turdus cardis
Considered a vagrant by Lee, Koo and Park (2000) this species is a scarce though regular migrant in spring, with very few autumn records. In spring 2004 at least 15 individuals were observed between April 7th and May 7th, with records from Taejongdae in Busan (2 on April 7th and 9th: NM); Heuksan Island, with 3 between the 10th and 11th (PJG); Hong island (PJG); Eocheong Island (with the last seen on May 4th: NM and tour); and Socheong Island (with e.g. 2 on April 27th: NM and tour). In autumn, 17 were counted on Socheong island on November 11th, with 7 still present on November 13th when observations ceased (NM).

Eye-browed Thrush Turdus obscurus
An occasionally numerous migrant, most especially in May to western islands. In 2004, largest counts were 125 on May 3rd and 350 on May 4th on Eocheong Island (NM and tour); and 110 on Eocheong Island on May 9th (NM, RD, MF, JB, KST). In autumn, very few were noted until 110 on Socheong Island on November 11th, with 100+ still present on November 13th when observations ceased (NM). On Hong Island, 2 were still present until at least November 18th (PJG).

Brown-headed Thrush Turdus chrysolaus
Considered a vagrant to Korea by Lee, Koo and Park (2000), this is a regular, occasionally numerous migrant to South Korea, especially in spring. In 2004 rather few observations, with records between April 7th and May 4th, in Busan (NM, CSJ), Hong Island (PJG), Eocheong Island (NM and tour) and Socheong Island (KST, NM and tour). Maximum count was only 5, on May 3rd on Eocheong Island (NM and tour).

Dark-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis
A very scarce migrant and irruptive winter visitor, increasingly recorded, most especially on western islands.
In 2004, approximately 6 records, including one nominate, on February 13th in Asan (KHT); one probably first year female atrogularis on Socheong Island on March 24th; one nominate first year male on October 12th ; 1 on November 6th; and a first winter male nominate on November 9th (all on Socheong Island, all NM). The last record was of a nominate first year male on Hong Island, on November 18th (PJG, KSH).

1st year male "Red-throated" Thrush, Hong Island, Nov 19th. Photo © PARK Jong Gil

Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea
First recorded in 2002, with two records in 2003. In 2004, one was photographed on Eocheong Island on April 17th-19th (NM, RR, CSH, KS). This is the fourth record for South Korea (and the third for Eocheong Island).

Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina
A largely spring migrant, most regular in the southwest. The earliest were 2 on April 19th on Eocheong Island (NM, RR). Highest counts were 30 on Eocheong Island on May 2nd (NM and tour), and 12 on May 3rd on Socheong Island (KST). There was only a peak of 4 on Hong Island on May 4th (PJG).

Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva
Recorded only once prior to 2004, in April 2003 on Eocheong Island. In 2004, two were photographed on Socheong island on November 6th, with one remaining until at least November 11th, with a further individual (either a Red-breasted, an aberrant Taiga or a hybrid with Taiga Flycatcher F. albicilla) also on November 11th (all NM).

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina
An autumn vagrant. Two previous records: one on Gageo Island in October 2001 (PJY, KSK et al) and one on Socheong Island (November 2nd, 2003: NM and Dennis Buss).
In 2004, the third and fourth records (both photographed): one on Hong Island on November 2nd (PJG), was followed by the second on November 27th on Jeju (KCW).

Verditer Flycatcher, Hong Island, Nov 2nd. Photo © PARK Jong Gil

Japanese Robin Erithacus akahige
This is a rather scarce and very skulking migrant, recorded previously only in spring. In 2004, at least 4 records. An adult male in Taejongdae, Busan, on April 7th (NM) was joined by a female on April 9th (NM, CSJ); a male was heard in song on Eocheong Island on April 18 (KS); and on Socheong island there was an adult from November 11th- November 13th, when observations ceased (NM).

Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
A scarce but regular migrant, especially on western islands, occasionally over-wintering.
In 2004, two were at Okku, Saemanegum, on January 25th , with a single at the Geum estuary on December 12th (all PN, JM).

Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
A rather common migrant, especially in spring on offshore islands, with smaller numbers over-wintering. In 2004, the peak day count was at least 250 on Socheong Island on April 14th (NM).

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
First recorded in 1999, and annual since. In 2004, there were at least three records (ca 9-12th). One or more males were on Eocheong Island on April 3rd- 4th, (JM, KYM, KHT, CSH). The same or another was seen on April 7th (CJ et al). One male was found on Hong Island on April 9th (PJG), while another male was photographed by KSH on Gageo Island between April 12th and 14th.

Grey Bushchat Saxicola ferrea
Only one record prior to 2004 (one in May 1987).
In 2004, two records: one male on Eocheong Island on April 17th (NM, CSH, RR); and one male on May 17th on Hatei Island (KDW and KSH).

Grey Bushchat, Eocheong, April 17th. Photos © Nial Moores

Red-billed Starling Sturnus sericeus
First recorded in 2000, this species has proved to be a regular early spring migrant along the west coast especially, and in the northeast in autumn.
In 2003/2004 the first wintering flock was discovered, on Jeju Island, holding at least 23 birds on February 27th (KHT). Spring records in 2004 involved ca 20 individuals, with records from Socheong Island between March 24th and April 25th, with a peak of 4 there on April 17th (KHJ, KMR, KSK); on Eocheong Island between April 6th (CJ et al) and April 18th, when 2 present (NM, RR, CSH); on Hong Island, with one on March 31st and last on April 10th (PJG); and on Daeheuksan Island, with 2 on April 10th-11th (PJG). In addition, there were at least two records from the mainland, with 1-2 on April 7th at Taejongdae, Busan (NM) and one at Seosan on May 2nd (KHT). In autumn, 4 were at Gangneung on October 14th (PjuY), with at the (very) least 8 there on November 6th (CTH).

Purple-backed Starling Sturnus sturninus
A scarce migrant, with a few breeding records. In 2004, records on Eocheong Island involved singles on May 4th (NM and tour), May 9th and May 15th or 16th (KM). On Hong Island one was present between May 6th and 7th (PJG), while at least 16 were on Socheong Island on May 16th, with one also there on June 2nd (NM). A pair was apparently present in mid-summer in the Ganghwa area (KSI). The only autumn records were 2 on Socheong Island on September 20th (NM) and at least one in Gangneung on September 26th (CTH).

White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis
A rare overshoot migrant, only recorded once pre-2001, but now recorded annually. In 2004, the only records were from Eocheong Island, where one was present between April 29th and May 5th (KM, NM and tour), with at least 2 on May 8th-11th (KHT, RD, MF, JB, KST, NM).

Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus
A juvenile on September 6th and 7th on Hong Island (PJG) was only the second record of the species in South Korea, and the first one to be supported by photographs. The species has been upgraded from category 2 to category 1 of the Birds Korea unofficial checklist.

Juvenile Rosy Starling, Hong Island, Sept 6th. Photo © PARK Jong Gil

Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
A scarce migrant and winter visitor, increasingly recorded. Ca 100 present on Jeju Island in early December (KCW) is easily the largest number recorded in Korea.

Coal Tit Parus ater
In 2004, of note only by its relative scarcity on offshore islands. In 2003, possibly up to 10 000 were recorded moving out to sea from Socheong Island one day in late October; in 2004, the species was not recorded there at all in October.

Willow Tit Parus montanus
Due to very poor understanding of the differences between Marsh Parus palustris and Willow Tits in the Eastern Palearctic, the status of the Willow Tit in South Korea remains unclear, with only 2 specimens from the Seoul area (in 1926 and 1982) and no other fully documented records. This is despite its occurrence in Japan and its possibly occasional large influxes into DPRK (Will Duckworth, in lit, 2004). One tit seen by JOH at Chungye San near Seoul on May 20th was 'brown-capped', apparently called like Scandinavian Willow Tit, and had a very extensive black bib.

Eurasian Crag Martin Hirundo/ Ptyonoprogne rupestris
First recorded in April 2002, the second record was of 2 in the southwest in 2003. In 2004, the third record for Korea was of one on May 27th, on Hatei Island (KDW).

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
A common migrant and summer visitor, though apparently much decreased in recent decades (with one roost in 1966 estimated to hold 100 000 birds: Park, 2002). In 2004, 4 in Haenam on January 10th (EC, PC) is one of the first wintering records of the species known to Birds Korea. In autumn, the largest reported number recorded in one day was 1 600 moving north/northwest on October 9h on Socheong Island (NM).

Red-rumped Swallow/Lesser Striated Swallow Hirundo daurica
A locally common migrant and summer visitor. 1 900 moving north/northwest on October 9th on Socheong Island was considered an exceptional count (NM). Latest report was of one on Socheong Island on November 6th (NM).

Northern House Martin Delichon urbicum
First recorded in 2003, one on September 14th 2004 on Socheong Island (NM) was approximately the 5th record in South Korea.

Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
A local, fairly common migrant, most often recorded on offshore islands. In 2004, there were two records in January, with 2 on Hong Island on January 9th (PJG), and 8 at Taejongdae in the far southeast on January 13th (NM, EC, PC). The earliest spring migrant reported was one in East Jeju on March 10th (NM, PV). Largest day counts in autumn all were from Socheong Island (all NM): 55 on September 6th , 80 on September 14th, 50 on September 22nd and 100 on October 9th. Very late records included 8 on November 1st on Socheong Island (NM, PM) and one on November 7th (NM).

Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis
First recorded in October 2002 on Eocheong Island, 2004 proved to be an exceptional year for the species in Korea, with the first breeding records. The first record of the year was one on Hatei Island on May 6th (KDW, KSH), soon followed by one on nearby Hong Island between May 7th-13th (PJG). On Socheong Island, two were found on May 16th; with another two on May 30th; followed by 3 between May 31st and June 1st; and at least 5 on June 2nd. Three were still present on June 3rd when observations ceased (NM).

Light-vented Bulbul, Socheong Island, Oct 19th. Photo © Nial MOORES

On August 10th -11th, when observations resumed, 4 or 5 juveniles were observed, including one begging food from an adult (TH, JS), clear evidence that nesting had taken place successfully. On August 18th, 14 were observed in 2 groups, with at least 10 juveniles and some begging activity; with at least 12 still present on October 11th, 15 on October 15th, 8 on November 7th, 7 on November 11th and 10 on November 13th when observations ceased (NM). Based on behavior and ages, it can be suggested that at least two pairs bred on the island successfully. Fluctuations in numbers in late October and early November quite probably reflect some departures and arrivals of new individuals (NM).

Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus
Although only 4 records are cited by Park (2002), this is an occasionally common migrant, increasingly numerous northward. In 2004, the earliest record was of 8 on April 15th on Socheong Island, and with a peak there of at least 30 on May 18th (NM). On Eocheong Island, there were 25 on May 8th (RD, MF, JB) increasing to ca 150 on May 9th (NM, KST, RD, MF, JB). In Namhansan NP, there were also 30 on May 12th, with at least 50 on Yeongjong Island on May 13th (NM, RD, MF, JB). Recorded almost daily in autumn on Socheong Island from September 19th (when 52), with high counts of 60 on September 20th and 100 on September 22nd. Late counts included 23 on Socheong on October 15th, and 2 on November 2nd (NM, PM)

Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus
Rather numerous along the south coast, and on offshore islands as far north as Eocheong Island. Only two records cited by Park 2002 for Gyeonggi Province in the northwest. In 2004, one on November 8th on Socheong island, with 2 on November 11th and one still present on November 13th (NM). Two were also in Namsan Park, Seoul on November 21st (MH).

Asian Stubtail Urosphena squameiceps
A fairly widespread migrant and summer visitor. One on Socheong Island on November 13th (NM) is considered an exceptionally late date.

Spotted Bush Warbler Bradypterus thoracicus
One singing on May 19th, Socheong Island (NM), was likely the second or third record of the species in South Korea.

Rusty-rumped Warbler Locustella certhiola
45 on May 17th on Socheong Island (NM) constitutes a new national count of a species formerly considered to be a scarce migrant.

Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps
A fairly common migrant and local summer visitor. In 2004, there was a peak of 25 on Socheong Island on May 31st (NM). One other record of note concerns a bird banded in Japan on October 24th in Shimane Prefecture, and re-trapped on Hong Island on November 2nd (PJG).

Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola
1 on Hong Do, from April 8-10th (PJG). Photographed, this is the first record for South Korea. It was followed by one on Socheong Island on October 5th (NM).

Paddyfield Warbler, Hong Island, April 8th. Photo © PARK Jong Gil

Manchurian Reed Warbler Acrocephalus tangorum VULNERABLE
Recorded only twice in South Korea (both photographed), in October 2000 on Gageo Island (NM), and in October 2002 on Socheong Island (KDW). In 2004, two birds seen on Hong Island on May 20th (PJG) were considered to be this species.

Thick-billed Warbler Acrocephalus aedon
A scarce migrant, more regular northward, especially in late May and again in August/September. In 2004, one on May 4th on Eocheong Island (RD, MF). On Socheong Island, peak counts were 5 on May 17th, and 4 on June 1st (NM). Recorded almost daily in autumn on Socheong Island from August 18th with 3 on the 21st (NM), and 3 on September 4th (NM, PJY). Latest record was of 2 on Hong Island on September 22nd (PJG).

Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis
Following on from the first record in DPRK in 2001, 2 were found and one was photographed on Hatei Island between April 5th and 10th 2004 (KDW, KSH): the first record for South Korea. The images suggest that the individuals were of the (sub-) species tristis.

Chiffchaff, Hatei Island, April. Photo © KIM Sung-Hyun

Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus
A fairly common migrant, more numerous northward, with some considered to breed in the northeast, and occasional birds over-wintering. In 2004, one was seen in the Seoul area in January (JOH). 75 on May 17th on Socheong is a new national high count. In autumn the highest count was 14 on Socheong Island on October 16th (NM).

Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi
A scarce migrant, more numerous northward, with some considered to breed in the northeast.
In 2004, 50 on May 17th on Socheong Island (NM) is a new national high count.

Chinese Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus yunnanensis
One seen well on Socheong Island on October 16th 2004 (NM) was the first record for South Korea. It has been added to category 2 of the unofficial Birds Korea checklist.

Pallas's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus
A fairly uncommon spring migrant, most numerous northward, peaking in late April. Rather scarcer in autumn. Considered to breed in the northeast. In 2004, on Socheong Island there were 10 on April 12th, increasing to 35 on April 14th and 56, a new national high count, on April 15th (NM). 50 were again recorded there on April 28th (NM and tour), with 20 also on May 14th (NM). Scarcer in autumn, with a high count of 15 on Socheong Island on October 16th (NM)

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
A very common migrant. Although recorded several times in December, in 2004 one at Dadapo, Busan, on March 10th (NM, PV) is the earliest record known to Birds Korea, and like one on Socheong Island on March 22nd (NM) probably either involved birds over-wintering, or movement of birds wintering north of their typical range. In spring, the day peak was of at least 300 on Socheong Island on April 28th and 300 on Eocheong Island on May 4th (NM and tour), with 150 on May 17th on Socheong Island a late second peak. In autumn, first recorded from August 19th on Socheong Island, with high counts there of 70 on October 15th and 100 on October 16th. Recorded on Socheong daily until November 12th.

Hume's Warbler Phylloscopus humei
A scarce migrant, much overlooked. In 2004 there were approximately 10 records involving ca 15 individuals. Most records are based on a combination of plumage, bare parts coloration and call. In spring 2004, on Socheong Island there were 2 on April 16th (NM); 3 on April 27th; 5 on April 28th, with 1 still on 29th (NM and tour); and 1 on May 14th (NM). On Eocheong Island there were 2 on May 3rd and May 4th (NM and tour). In autumn, one was seen on October 15th (NM), followed by one on November 3rd (NM, PM), one on November 6th, one on November 7th and the last on November 11th (NM) all on Socheong Island.

Two-barred Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
A scarce migrant, rather more numerous in spring than autumn, commoner northward. The earliest reported in 2004 was one on May 3rd on Socheong Island (KST), with one on Eocheong (NM and tour) and another on Hatei Island, both on May 4th (KDW). 1 was on Eocheong on May 9 (RD et al). On Socheong, there were at least 8 on May 14th , with 2 on May 17th, 3 on May 18th and 3 on May 30th (NM).

Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
A regular though scarce spring migrant, most regularly found on western islands. In 2004, there were approximately 8 records received involving 15 individuals. On Heuksan Island there were 4 on April 10th-11th (PJG) and 3 on April 25th (KST); on Socheong Island there was 1 on April 14th and 2 on April 15th and 16th (NM; KSK), with one also seen on April 26th (NM and tour), and 3 on May 4th (KST); and on Eocheong Island there were 3 on April 18th (NM, RR. KS), 1 on May 4th (NM and tour), and one on May 8th (RD, MF, JB)

Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens cheleensis
In recent years a very scarce migrant and winter visitor, probably barely recorded annually. In 2004, one was claimed on August 6th at Sokcho (TH, JS), and one was photographed on Jeju Island on the more typical winter date of December 4th (KCW).

Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus
An uncommon migrant and scarce summer visitor, much declined over past decades. In 2004, the spring day peak was of 7 at Yeonjong Island on May 13th (NM, RD, MF, JB), with an autumn peak of 14 on August 23rd on Socheong Island (NM).

Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola
First recorded in 1999, it has since proved to be a scarce annual migrant in spring along the west coast. In 2004, only two records received: two on May 3rd on Eocheong Island (NM and tour); and one on October 6th on Socheong Island (NM).

Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi
A fairly common migrant, most especially in September and early October. In 2004, one on November 11th and another found dead on November 13th on Socheong Island (NM) were considered exceptionally late dates.

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
First recorded in 2000, it has since proved to be annual, easy to overlook in amongst flocks of the much more abundant Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni.
In 2004, one on September 24th on Hong Island (PJG) was the only record received, approximately the 10th record for Korea.

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta
Prior to 2002, there were 4 records involving at least 5 individuals, all in winter. In 2003, there was one on Jeju Island (Paul Leader) and three on Heuksan Island (PJG). In 2004, there was again one on Heuksan Island, on November 20th (PJG), with another at Joonam Reservoir on November 24th (MIH): approximately the seventh and eighth records for South Korea.

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
Considered a scarce winter visitor, one on April 4th 2004 at Songnisan NP seems especially noteworthy (BH).

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
A scarce migrant, regular along the west coast, with at least one record in mid-winter. In 2004, there was one on February 17th at Seosan (LKS). In autumn, a day count of 12 on September 8th on Socheong Island (NM) is a new national high count.

Japanese Grosbeak Eophona personata
An uncommon migrant, occasionally recorded in winter. In 2004, 25 on Socheong Island on November 11th with 10 still present on November 13th (NM) were the highest counts received.

Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
A common migrant and scarce winter visitor. Mid-winter records included 5 at Seosan on January 6th; 10 at Haenam on January 10th; and 15 at Suncheon Bay on January 11th (EC, PC). The highest day count was 300 on May 4th, on Eocheong Island (NM and tour), which probably constitutes a new national high count.

Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys
A fairly common migrant, most numerous in spring. In 2004, the earliest were 3 on Eocheong Island on April 7th (CJ et al.). The spring day maximum was 50 on Eocheong Island on May 4th (NM and tour), with an autumn day peak of at least 125 on Socheong Island on September 20th (NM): the latter likely a new national high count.

Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica
A very common passage migrant, most especially in March and late October/November, and common winter visitor. In 2004, highest counts received included 1000 in a single flock in Cheorwon on March 21st (NM, MH), and 1000 on November 2nd on Socheong Island (NM, PM). The latest spring record received was one in Gunsan on May 9th (JM, PN).

Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans
A very common migrant, and common winter visitor and breeding species. In 2004, the highest day count was 400 on November 6th on Socheong Island (NM)

Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola NEAR-THREATENED
A formerly reasonably numerous migrant on offshore islands, apparently declining. In 2004, peak counts reported from the various islands were 12 on May 5th on Hong island (PJG), 40 on May 10th on Eocheong Island (NM, KST, RD, MF, JB), and 25 on Socheong Island on May 14th (NM). In autumn, first recorded on Socheong Island on August 23rd (a female), and last on October 15th (a male). Peak counts on the islands were only 4 on Hong island on September 14th (PJG) and 5 on Socheong Island on September 20th (NM).

Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila
A fairly common migrant in both spring and autumn, though considered to have declined greatly since the 1960s (Park, 2002). An exceptional count was 750 on Socheong Island on May 15th (NM). The highest count in autumn was only ca 80 on October 5th on Socheong Island (NM)

Japanese Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata VULNERABLE
An uncommon migrant on western islands and presumably along the south coast. In 2004, the earliest reported was one on Hatei Island between April 8-12th (KSH). From mid-April, recorded almost daily on Eocheong Island until May 8th. Highest count was of 15 there on April 19th (NM, RR): possibly the highest day count in Korea to date (though 36 were recorded over a 4-day period on Geoje Island in 1967: Park, 2002. (Note: many researchers in South Korea add day totals together, more often than recording peak counts or identifying different individuals). One was reported on Heuksan Island on April 27th (KST), and there were 2 on Hong Island on May 6th (PJG). Two were on Socheong Island on April 27th (NM, KK, ST).

Grey Bunting Emberiza variabilis
Apparently a very scarce and local winter visitor. In 2004, very few records received. One male was at Taejongdae, Busan, on April 9th (NM), while in autumn one or two were on Socheong Island on November 11th (NM): likely the most northerly record of the species in South Korea. In winter, 2 were at Dadapo, Busan, on November 28th (NM).

Other Species of Special Conservation Concern

Either with no records or no records of note in 2004:

Emperor Goose Anser canagica NEAR-THREATENED
Only one record, in Cheorwon in December 1995.

Crested Shelduck Tadorna cristata CRITICALLY ENDANGERED
No records since 1916.

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca NEAR-THREATENED
Only one record, at Joonam in February 2002.

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni VULNERABLE
Only one record, in November 2001.

Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix NEAR-THREATENED
Recorded annually in very small numbers on the East coast. Probably recorded in 2004.

Crested Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume VULNERABLE
With less than 10 previous historic records, 200 were reported by LKS on the south coast in October 1987 (Park, 2002). Two single birds were claimed in 2002 (in February and December). However, no other recent records known to Birds Korea.

Black Woodpigeon Columba janthina NEAR-THREATENED
Apparently a scarce and very local summer visitor or resident, breeding on a small number of offshore islands, with birds recorded on ca 15 islands (Park, 2002). In the East Sea, still regular and reasonably widespread on Ulleung island, where perhaps mainly a summer visitor. In the southwest - in the South Sea and southern Yellow Sea - where the majority of the population exists, perhaps largely resident (highest count being of 80 in far southwest in February 1980: Park 2002). Considered to be all of nominate subspecies, obvious differences in appearance of adults in discrete populations of Ulleung in the east and Gageo Island in the southwest (where many show a purplish-red suffusion on the crown and head), suggest the possibility of two subspecies. Some obvious declines noted, e.g. on Gageo Island, attributed in part to road construction and increased disturbance. No records of particular note received in 2004.

Great Bustard Otis tarda VULNERABLE
No confirmed records since 1976.

Swinhoe's Rail Coturnicops exquisitus VULNERABLE
No record since 1930 (Park, 2002).

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla NEAR-THREATENED
A local winter visitor and very scarce breeding species, with one or two pairs nesting on southern islands. Probably over 100 winter regularly nationwide, most especially in Cheorwon, Han-Imjin, Seosan, Saemangeum, Haenam, Nakdong and along the east coast. No records of special note known to Birds Korea in 2004.

Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon VULNERABLE
No confirmed records since 1978 (Park, 2002).

Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus VULNERABLE
Only two records: one in 1913, and the second in 1978 (Park, 2002).

Short-tailed Albatross Diomedea albatrus ENDANGERED
Three historic specimens and no recent records.

Black Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata NEAR-THREATENED
A local summer visitor especially to Jeju island; nests only very locally. Fairly scarce migrant. No records of special note received by Birds Korea in 2004.

Pleske's Grashopper Warbler Locustella pleskei VULNERABLE
A little known taxon, nesting on offshore islands, apparently on at least the east and west coasts. Total numbers have perhaps yet to be estimated, but the species seems fairly widespread in suitable habitat. A population of locustella on Ulleung Island, appearing in some ways intermediate between L.pleskei and L. ochotensis was newly described in 2004.

Marsh Grassbird Megalurus pryeri VULNERABLE
Only one historic record, in 1962.

Ochre-rumped Bunting Emberiza yessoensis NEAR-THREATENED
A scarce migrant and winter visitor, likely regular in small numbers at a number of sites, most especially along the west coast. No records of special note received by Birds Korea in 2004.


As always Birds Korea are extremely grateful to all those who have provided records and images for use: very many thanks. In 2004, special thanks also continues to go to Kim Hyun-tae in Seosan, for use of many of his fantastic images and Park Jong-Gil, who kindly sent both records and images from Hong Island and Heuksan Island and also reviewed the text in brief in Mid-December.


  • Lee, W-S, Koo T-H and J-Y Park. 2000. A Field Guide to the Birds of Korea. LG Evergreen Foundation
  • Moores, N. 1998. Saunders's Gull colony in South Korea; first nesting record outside of Peoples' Republic of China. OBC Bulletin 29, November 1998.
  • Moores, N. 1999 a. A survey of the distribution and abundance of shorebirds in South Korea during 1998-1999: Interim Summary. The Stilt, April 1999. Published by AWSG.
  • Moores, N. 1999 b. Korean Wetlands Alliance National NGO Wetlands Report: Ramsar 1999. Yullinmaul, Seoul.
  • Park J-Y. 2002. Current Status and Distribution of Birds in Korea. Kyung Hee University, unpublished doctoral thesis (in Korean).
  • Park J-Y. 2004. Current Status of Endangered and Threatened Waterbirds in Korea. In the proceedings of the 2004 International Symposium on Migratory Birds, Gunsan, Korea (December 2-3, 2004).

Also: Birdlife International, `Red Data Book: Threatened Birds of Asia´, online at: