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The Birds Korea Bird Review: 2009
Edelsten, T., Moores, N. & A. Kim. April 2013


This review was compiled and written by Tim Edelsten with additional input and editing by Nial Moores; review of selected records by Shim Kyu-Sik; and online layout by Andreas Kim. Nomenclature and threat status follow the 2009 Birds Korea Checklist (Moores & Park 2009) as online publication of this review (in April 2013) precedes online publication of the 2013 Birds Korea Checklist.

Out of the 400 or so species recorded in total during 2009 in the Republic of Korea (ROK), this review contains especially notable records of over 220 species. These records were submitted to Birds Korea by members or visiting birders, and for 2009 were also gleaned from key literature, ten domestic birding websites and a further 70 domestic birding blogs. A small number of ornithologically significant records made in the DPRK in 2009, during a visit to Mundok wetland in late April by a team from the Miranda Shorebird Centre in New Zealand (Riegen 2009), are also included.

Identification of the review species has in almost all cases been made by the observer(s) themselves, and is usually supported by photographs, as clarified in the text. In the absence of a national or regional records committee, details of several of the records were respectfully requested from observers (and in the absence of a response or necessary online supporting details, have occasionally been omitted), while many of the more notable records have also already been open to public review, through online-posting by Birds Korea or by other websites / blogs. In a few especially challenging cases, images or descriptions have also been assessed by independent identification specialists.

Selected Species

Following this process, species adequately documented for the first time in Korea include King Eider Somateria spectabilis, Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis, Claudia’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus claudiae, and Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus. Yellow-streaked Warbler Phylloscopus armandii and Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida were also elevated to Category One from Category Three. Northern Raven Corvus corax was recorded for the first time in the ROK, while Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia was recorded for the first time in the DPRK. Both Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis and Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata are also to be added to the Checklist in 2013 on the basis of historical records from waters off the DPRK. One further species, Guldenstadt's Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogastus, was added to Category Three of the 2009 Checklist.

In addition, four regularly-occurring species (Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Japanese Night Heron Gorsachius goisagi, Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus and Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris) were adequately-documented as breeding species apparently for the first time in the ROK in 2009. A further 20 or so species are included in the review as they have likely been recorded less than ten times previously in the ROK. Some of these species are likely very rare in Korea, while several others might have been largely overlooked in previous years (see Moores 2012 for a review of potential biases affecting records which include e.g. an increase in access, observer activity and ability). In addition, three exotic species are included for the first time, because of the potential identification challenges they pose or because they have occurred in one or more close-lying countries in a natural or near-natural state. The remaining species are included because of their global conservation status or because numbers, dates or locations of records appear to be exceptional (based on a reading of available online and published literature). However, as most online sources do not include counts or records of commoner species, most peak counts listed below are from Birds Korea members and therefore might be conservative.


This is the eighth in a series of Year Reviews made freely available by Birds Korea in html format or as a downloadable PDF. While incomplete, these Year Reviews still remain the only annual review (in either English or Korean) to capture the majority of ornithologically significant records in the ROK. This important citizen science-driven process is only possible due to the generous efforts of all who share or help to assess images and records. Our sincerest thanks to all concerned, in particular once more to Dr. Shim Kyu Sik. This year information and records are drawn from the following 134 observers, contributors and commentators (arranged alphabetically, with family name provided first for those of East Asian origin, and given names first for those from other regions):


Alan Brown (AB)
Andreas Kim (AK)


Bob Flood (BF)
Barry Heinrich (BH)
Byeon Jeong-Gwan (BJG)
Baek Jong-Seok (BJS)


Cam Bieksza (CB)
Chai Seung-Hoon (CSHN)
Choi Cheol-Seun (CCS)
Choi Hae-Young (CHY)
Cho Seung-Ho (CSH)
Choi Soon-Kyu (CSK)
Choi Soo-Yeol (CSY)


Dave Bakewell (DB)
Dominic Le Croisette (DLC)
D.O.M. (DOM)


Elaine Miller (EM)
Ellin Stubblefield (ES)


Gail Lindie (GL)
Gang Chang-Hwan (GCH)
Geoff Carey (GC)
Goh Kyoung-Nam (GKN)
Gu Joon-Hee (GJH)
Gwan Chan-Su (GCS)


Han Dong-Gwan (HDG)
Huang Jae-Heung (HJH)
Han Seung-Woo (HSW)
Hans Thalund (HT)
Hayley Wood (HW)


Igari Atsushi (IA)
Im Bek-Ho (IBH)
Im Da-Mi (IDM)
Im Kwang-Wan (IKW)
Im Bong-Hee (IMBH)


Joseph Bieksza (JB)
Jang Byoung-Soon (JBS)
Jeong Da-Mi (JDM)
Jong Ha-Jin (JHJ)
Joh Heung-Sang (JHS)
Jeong Hwan (JH)
Jong Jin-Mun (JJIM)
Ji Jong-Man (JJOM)
Jörg Langenberg (JL)
Jon Lewis (JOL)
Jeon Mi-He (JMH)
Javier Piedra (JP)
John Roberts (JR)
Jang Su-Bang (JSB)
Jeon Shi-Jin (JSJ)
Joh Song-Sik (JSS)
Yong-Gi (JYG)


Kim Beom-Su (KBS)
Koo Bong-Jeong (KBJ)
Kim Dae-Hwan (KDH)
Kim Eun-Mi (KEM)
Kim Gye-Soo (KGYS)
Kim Gye-Song (KGS)
Kim Gi-Yeol (KGY)
Kathy Gustafson (KG)
Kim Hyan-Gee (KHG)
Kim Han-Ju (KHJ)
Kang Hee-Man (KHM)
Kwak Ho-Kyoung (KHK)
Kang Hwa-Yeon (KHWY)
Kim Hwa-Yeon (KHY)
Kim Hyo-Gun (KHOG)
Kim Yeon-Su (KYS)
Kim Young-Ho (KYH)
Kim Jae-Hwan (KJH)

Kim Jun-Cheol (KJC)
Kim Jong-Won (KJW)
Kwan Kyoung-Sook (KKS)
Kelly Shepherd (KS)
Kim Shin Hwan (KSH)
Kim Song-Jin (KSJ)
Kim Su-Kyoung (KSK)
Kim Seong-Mi (KSM)
Kim Seok-Min (KSMI)
Kim Tae-Gyu (KTG)
Kim Sung-Hyun (KSUH)
Kim Seok-Yee (KSY)
Kim Woo-Yuel (KWY)


Lee Dae-Jong (LDJ)
Lee Eun-Sang (LES)
Lee Gi-Seob (LGS)
Lee Hee-Ju (LHJ)
Lee Hae-Seun (LHS)
Lee Hyun-Woo (LHW)
Lee Jae-Heung (LJH)
Lee Jong-Sik (LJS)
Lee Jae-Won (LJW)
Lee Kwang-Goo (LKG)
Lee Seung-Cheol (LSC)
Lee Sang-Hun (LSH)
Lee Sang-Il (LSI)
Lee Song-Won (LSW)
Lee Seung-Yeol (LSY)
Lee Yang-Seob (LYS)
Yong-Min (LYM)


Mike Balfour (MB)
Eun-Ju (MEJ)
Mike Friel (MF)
Matt Poll (MP)
Michael Rumberger (MR)
Michael Stubblefield (MS)
Mishima Takanobu (MT)
Marc Van Roomen (MVR)


Nial Moores (NM)


Oh Dong-Pil (ODP)
Oh Jang-Geun (OJG)
Oh Tae-Seok (OTS)


Park Gi-Ha (PGH)
Park Geun-Seok (PGS)
Park Heung-Sik (PHS)
Park Hyun-Woo (PHW)
Park Hang-Jae (PHJ)
Park Jong-Gil (PJG)
Park Joo-Hyun (PJH)
Park Meena (PM)
Park Un-Nam (PUN)
Park Young-Ook (PYO)


Richard Lindie (RL)
Robin Newlin (RN)


Suh Chung-Gi (SCG)
Stephen Gustafson (SG)
Hyun-Seob (SHS)
Song In-Sik (SIS)
S.Jong (SJ)
Seok Jae-Eul (SJE)
Shim Kyu-Sik (SKS)


Tim Edelsten (TE)
Thomas Langenberg(TL)


Victor Stanger (VS)


Won Jeong-Dae (WJD)


Yang Hyun-Sook (YHS)


In addition to named individuals, certain oft-cited organisations or websites are indicated by the following abbreviations:

BDB: Birds Data Base website, at:
BIJ: Birds in Jeju website, at:
KNPS: Korea National Parks Service, at:
MOE: Ministry of Environment, at
TBV: "Team Bavaria", comprising Heiko Kraetzel, Kirsten Kraetzel, Soenke Tautz, Jörg Langenberg, Thomas Langenberg, Johanna Rathgeber-Knan, Armin Schneider, & Nial Moores.

Selected Species Accounts

(All relate to the ROK unless stated otherwise)

Swan Goose Anser cygnoides P3, W4
A local migrant and scarce winter visitor. At the Han-Imjin Estuary (where most numerous), the peak count known to Birds Korea was 600 on March 14th (RN, IMBH, IDM).

Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus VU P/W5
A scarce but much overlooked migrant and winter visitor, usually recorded from early October to mid-March. In January an adult and a juvenile were at Janggu Bay in the Geum Estuary on January 1st (NM), while two were present at Jungmun, Jeju Island throughout the month (JES). On March 1st, one was also seen at Imjingak (RN). In the second half of the year, at Seosan Lakes, an adult was photographed on October 10th (LKG); a juvenile and an adult were seen on the 18th (LHW); one was heard on the 25th (RN, IKW, SCG); and further singles were photographed on the 29th (SIS) and on November 14th (LHW). Three adults were also pictured together there on November 29th (KSH). Elsewhere, an adult was photographed at Gangneung, Gangwon, on October 29th (HJH), followed by one or two seen at Junam Reservoirs on December 5th (via DLC) and 10th (NM, SG, KG).

Snow Goose Chen caerulescens WV1
An annual winter visitor in very small numbers, usually from early October to late March. Three were recorded at the Mangyeung River (Jeollabuk) during the MOE Census (MOE 2009), and at Seosan Lakes, one was photographed on January 28th (CSY) and again on October 11th (KSH). At Cheorwon, two were photographed on November 1st (PHW), with one also seen there on the 12th of that month (RN, SCG).

Cackling Goose Branta hutchinsii leucopareia WV1 /minima WV2
A rare winter visitor, recorded near-annually this decade, from October to March, with the majority of records believd to involve leucopareia. At Imjingak on January 9th, one believed to be of subspecies minima was seen on January 9th (TBV). At Cheorwon, two were seen on November 1st (PHW)- the thirteenth record of this species since 1992. In addition, an oddly-patterned goose with a few characteristics (vaguely) suggesting Cackling Goose was photographed at Seosan on October 19th (PHS).

Mute Swan Cygnus olor W5
A rare, irregular and very local winter visitor. In 2009, recorded from at least four locations. At the northern reservoir on Yongjeong Island, three were present from at least January 16th (PJH) to at least January 27th (JDM); on Jeju Island, one in January (JES) was followed by two on November 15th at Yongsu-ri Lake (LSC); at Chungju, a group of four were seen on November 21st (via IKW); and thirteen at Songji Lagoon, Geojin, Gangwon province on December 20th (BH, KSM) was the highest count during the year

Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus W4
A declining and now scarce winter visitor with all records attributable to subspecies bewickii. A total of only 65 were reported by MOE (2009), compared with 792 reported in 1999 and 397 in 2000 by the same census. Five photographed at Shihwa Lake on October 24th (YHS) appears to be the highest concentration in the second half of the year known to Birds Korea. Of interest, one presumed bewickii x nominate columbianus hybrid was present at Junam Reservoir (Changwon) from December 10th (NM, SG, KG) to at least December 15th (DLC).

Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus W3/SV2
After a rapid increase at the end of the 1990s, the over-wintering population in the ROK in recent winters appears to be more or less stable, with 4,857 reported by MOE (2009). A neck-banded individual "CO3", was photographed at Gumi on February 17th (WJD). One photographed at Seosan on June 6th (KSH) and again on June 24th (KKS) is an exceptional mid-summer record.

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata R, W3
An uncommon and declining species, apparently more numerous and widespread in winter than in summer. MOE (2009) reported only 640 nationwide, compared with a mean of >1,909 per winter for the period 1999-2003 (MOE 1999-2003).

Falcated Duck Anas falcata W3, SV2 Br:3
Classified as globally Near-threatened, with a world population estimated at c.89,000 with 78,000 of these in China (Cao et al. 2008). Numbers overwintering in the ROK reported by the MOE census have increased substantially since 1999 (when 1,912 were reported), doubling since 2005 to reach a new high count of 5,224 in 2009 (MOE 1999-2009). In the second half of the year, a count of 700 on November 21st at Shihwa Lake (TE) seems noteworthy.

American Wigeon Anas americana V1
First recorded in 1993 and subsequently found to be a rare annual winter visitor. Status is confused, however, by the occurrence of hybrids with Eurasian Wigeon A. penelope. At the Nakdong Estuary, Busan (where most regularly recorded), two present since November 2008 were again photographed on January 6th 2009 (KHOG), followed by one at Gangneung on March 28th (LYS). At Shihwa Lake, a male and two hybrids were seen between November 15th (PHS) and the 19th (RN).

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos W1, S4 Br:1
The rapid decline in the wintering population of this species in the ROK continues, with only 159,884 reported by MOE (2009), compared to almost 420,000 recorded in 2000 at many fewer sites (MOE 2000). While present in very small numbers each summer, a female photographed with three ducklings at Gwacheon, Seoul, on June 14th (JJOM) is perhaps the first adequately-documented breeding record of this species in the ROK.

Baikal Teal Anas formosa W1, SV2
In 2009 recorded in large numbers moving between several locations, with a new high total of 1,063,280 reported by the MOE Winter Census. Half of this total was in Jeollanam Province, with a further 200,000 at Dongrim Lake (Jeollabuk) (MOE 2009). Also in January, 400,000 were noted at the Geum Estuary on the 1st (TBV), followed by a flock of perhaps 200,000 over-flying Mokpo on the 12th (KSY). Also in Jeollanam Province at Saneh Lake, Gangjin-Gu, a concentration of perhaps 400,000 was photographed on the 17th. In March, a flock of up to 30,000 were photographed at Seosan on the 5th (KSH) and 8th (KYS). In the second half of the year, at Yeongam Lake, Haenam, a gathering of 50,000 on November 22nd had apparently risen to 150,000 by December 4th (LJS).

Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina V1
A rare winter visitor, not recorded annually. At Shihwa Lake, two females were seen between January 4th and 25th, with one remaining until February 16th at least (PHS).

Common Pochard Aythya ferina P/W2
A common winter visitor and passage migrant, mostly present from mid-October to April. A total of 36,789 were reported by MOE (2009), with almost a third of these (12,150) claimed on Shihwa Lake.

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca V1
Not (yet) recorded annually, despite an apparent increase in recent reports in China and also Japan (where also very rare). A male on Gageo Island on February 20th (NM) is approximately the seventh national record and also the first to be seen on an offshore island.

Greater Scaup Aythya marila W2/SV2
A total of 33,821 were reported by MOE (2009) with almost all along the west coast including 7,210 at Shihwa Lake, where 8,950 were earlier counted on January 8th (TE, RN, SKS).

King Eider Somateria spectabilis
A female, the first record of this species for Korea, was found at Ayajin Port, Gangwon Province, on January 11th (KSMI). This individual was later re-found further north at Geojin Harbour, where it was last seen and photographed alive on January 19th (TE). It was then unfortunately found dead in early February (KWBS). Extraordinarily, a male was found during the same period near Uljin on January 17th (PYO) and likewise tracked northwards, until being last seen on the border of Gyongsangbuk and Gangwon provinces on January 22nd (LYS).

King Eider Somateria spectabilis, Photo © Kim Shin-Hwan

Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus W4 NN
A locally common winter visitor along the north-east and east coast, some years wintering as far south as Busan. As the species is easy to overlook during rapid survey, a total of only 206 were reported by MOE (2009). Two photographed at Shihwa Lake between January 8th (KHK) and 27th (IKW), is a rare record for the west coast.

White-winged Scoter Melanitta deglandi W3
A total of 1,089 were reported by MOE (2009), with most along the east coast, and numbers in Busan falling from 1,000 in 2006 to only 33 in 2009. Forty-one off Socheong Island on April 12th (NM, MS, ES) is the highest west coast count during the year.

Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis V1
A rare winter visitor, scarcely reported annually. At Hwajinpo, Gangwon Province, one was seen on January 6th (TBV). At Shihwa Lake, a male, present since November 2008, remained until at least January 29th (KHOG). It was also loosely accompanied by two females from January 4th (KJC) to the 25th (TE, SKS), with one female remaining until at least the 29th (KHOG). On the very late date of April 28th, a male and female were seen out to sea, about 10km east of Eocheong Island in Gunsan (JT). Back at Shihwa, a male was again seen on November 21st (TE), where a female was also photographed on December 26th (IKW).

Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula W3
A common winter visitor to the ROK, apparently showing large annual fluctuations in number. A total of 6,348 were reported by MOE (2009), with 2,580 of these at Shihwa Lake.

Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus W5 NN2
A scarce winter visitor and migrant, apparently often overlooked by rapid survey effort, with only 14 recorded by MOE (2009). In 2009, recorded from at least the following locations:

  1. At the "South East River" in Gyeongsangnam Province, twelve, including four males and eight females were seen on January 2nd (TBV);
  2. At Chungju at least one was present on January 8th (LES);
  3. Fourteen were reported from Dalcheon in Gangwon Province on January 15th (PUN);
  4. "North East River", Gangwon Province. Despite increasing disturbance along the riverbank by the construction of a quad bike track, at least two were present on February 18th (CSY). Two had returned by November 9th (PHW), and seven were counted there on December 15th (RN);
  5. One (or more?) was present on the sea off Heuksan Island. According to Table 1-23, the species was recorded in early March, early May and even late May (KNP 2009).

Yellow-billed Loon Gavia adamsii W5
2009 was a remarkable year for this scarcely-reported winter visitor and migrant. Much of the increase in records is probably attributable to an increase in survey effort, including counting from boats and commercial ferries. Records in 2009 known to Birds Korea came from the following locations:

  1. Yeongdeok, Gyeongsangbuk Province. One on January 4th (TBV);
  2. Hwajinpo, Gangwon Province. Four on January 5th and one on January 6th (TBV);
  3. Ayajin Port, Gangwon Province. One photographed close inshore on January 25th (KJC) and seen subsequently by multiple observers until at least March 7th (RN, IKW);
  4. Yeongil Bay, Gyeongsangbuk Province. One found on February 6th (LHW) was seen and photographed by multiple observers until at least February 26th (PHS);
  5. Sokcho, Gangwon Province. One was photographed dead in the fishing harbour among other discarded seabird corpses on February 14th (KHY);
  6. From Socheong Island. One was seen on February 18th (NM);
  7. Between Incheon Port - Socheong Island. Singles were seen on March 17th (NM), April 11th and 16th (NM, MS, ES) and on May 9th (NM);
  8. Between Mokpo Port and Gageo Island. Up to five were seen on April 17th (NM, RN);
  9. Geojin, Gangwon Province. Two on December 9th (NM).

Petrel Pterodroma sp
An unidentified petrel was watched at medium-long range in strong glare and against the light from a fishing boat about 8km offshore from Hwajinpo on January 5th (TBV). The bird resembled a Flesh-footed Shearwater, with a heavy body and appearing all dark. However, in only light winds, it flew quickly with rapid wing-beats followed by extended, exaggerated upward and downward glides.

Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas S2 Br:1
A locally common breeder on offshore Islands, apparently absent or largely absent from Korean waters from mid-November to early March. Unusually early records included one or two between Mokpo and Gageo Island on February 19th, and five seen from Igidae, Busan on March 6th (NM). Noteworthy counts included 6,400 off Socheong Island on May 16th and 2,500 off Gageo Island on October 7th (NM).

Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris P5
A generally scarce migrant (although occasionally recorded in larger concentrations) from April to October, with most records in mid-summer. One photographed near Eochong Island on June 6th (SIS) and four seen on July 22nd between Socheong Island and Incheon Port (NM) are apparently the only reports in 2009.

Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes P5
A generally scarce migrant, with most records between June and November. In 2009, most records were from commercial ferries:

  1. At sea, between Incheon Port and Socheong Island. One on July 23rd (NM), and in August one on the 16th (SKS) and two on the 19th, one on the 22nd, and three or four on the 31st (NM). In September, singles were seen on the 13th and 22nd (NM) and one was photographed on the 26th (SKS). In October, three on the 1st (TE, SKS), two on the 2nd (SKS), three on the 9th, and two on the 11th (RN);
  2. At sea, between Bigeum Island and Heuksan Island. One on July 29th (PJG), one on August 13th and two on October 12th (NM);
  3. At sea, between Hatei and Manjay Island and Gageo Island. One on August 13th and another on August 18th (NM);
  4. At sea, close to Eocheong Island. One on August 29th (NM, BF, RN);
  5. Approximately 5km offshore from Geojin, Gangwon Province. One or more on August 30th (NM, RN, SKS, BF);
  6. From Socheong Island itself. One on September 13th and 14th (NM);
  7. At sea, between Mokpo and Jeju Island. One on September 18th (RN);
  8. From Gageo Island itself. One on October 7th (NM).

Swinhoe's Storm Petrel Oceanodroma monorhis S3 Br:1
A local summer visitor, with the majority of the world’s breeding population confined to only a few ROK islands, most in the West Sea (though including Dok Island in the East Sea, since at least 2005: Ahn 2005). The largest concentration (possibly up to 90% of the world population) breeds on the Gugeul Islets off Gageo (Birds Korea 2010). In 2009, although the Gugeul Islets are legally-protected, illegal fisherman were photographed on one of the islets during the summer months, and fishing boats (some playing loud music) regularly fished close-by (NM pers. obs.) Breeding was also documented at Gwantal Islet, off Chuja Island, where twenty birds were observed (GCH, Joh 2009)

Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena W3
A locally common winter visitor, especially to inshore waters along the east coast between the Guryongpo Peninsula and Hwajin Po. Underreported by the MOE census (which recorded a total of only 222 in 2009: MOE 2009), a count of 300 between Jukbyeon Port and Onyang-ri, Gyeongsangbuk Province on January 20th (TE, NM) is perhaps more representative of a handful of areas with larger concentrations. One near Gageo Island on February 22nd (NM) was the first record for that island and an unusual record from that part of the Yellow sea.

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus W3, R5
An increasing and locally common winter visitor (with 6,314 reported by MOE 2009) and also a scarce breeding species. At Uiwang Reservoir, at least two pairs managed to raise a total of five chicks (TE), although greater breeding success was limited by wildly fluctuating water levels for agricultural irrigation purposes which submerged the nest of at least one pair. Breeding was also observed at Seosan in July (KSH).

Black Stork Ciconia nigra P5, WV1 Br:3
A scarce migrant and winter visitor, with records from at least four locations in 2009:

  1. Hampyeong, Jeollanam Province. At this traditional wintering site, three were photographed on January 20th (LJW); one on February 27th (JHJ); and two on or around March 2nd (SIS);
  2. Youngju City, Gyeongsangbuk Province. One frequented a stretch of dry riverbed from at least January 25th (KJC) to February 8th (JJIM);
  3. Gageo Island. One probable was seen flying over the sea from the island on April 19th (RN, NM), and an adult was photographed on October 5th (NM);
  4. Socheong Island. A juvenile was seen over-flying the island on September 30th (KSUH).

Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana W5, SV2 Br:3
Extirpated as a breding species, and now a rare, localized and declining winter visitor, typically from late October to late March. This year, recorded in at least four locations:

  1. Yeongjeong Island. One seen on January 17th (TE) was present until at least April 4th (TE, RN);
  2. Geumho Lake, Haenam. One was seen on February 24th (TE, AK);
  3. Seosan Lakes, Chungcheongnam Province. In January, two were seen and photographed on the 3rd (PHS), with five on the 9th (TBV) and seven on the 24th (MEJ) and in February eight on the 21st, increasing to eleven on the 28th (KSH). In March, this group peaked at fifteen on the 4th (KSK), which appears to be the highest concentration recorded in the ROK for the past five years. This number decreased to fourteen on the 6th (RL, AB), thirteen on the 7th (KSH), and only four by the 19th (KYS). One photographed there on June 5th (KKS), is apparently only the second recent record of over-summering on the mainland. The following autumn, one had returned on November 14th (KJC), with three seen on the 15th (JJIM) and six on the 20th (BCK);
  4. Gomso Bay, Jeollanam Province. Three were seen on December 12th (NM, SG, KG).

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia W4, SV1
A survey conducted at traditional sites for this species between January 9th-11th (KWBS) found at least 70 at Seosan; two at Hado, Jeju Island; 26 at the Nakdong Estuary, Busan; and eighteen at Junam Reservoir (Changwon). One on Gageo Island on April 22nd (NM, RN) is exceptional for a small offshore island.

Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor S4/3, W5 Br:1
A locally common summer visitor (late March to October) to tidal-flats along the west coast (especially in Gyeonggi Bay) and rare over-wintering species, most regular on Jeju. The 2009 Black-faced Spoonbill winter census recorded 2,041 individuals globally, with most wintering in Taiwan (Yu 2009). In the summer of 2009, between 443 and 515 pairs were counted / estimated to be breeding in the ROK (Lee Ki Sup unpublished data shared with SAVE International and other organisations). Thus, approximately half of the total known world population of the species is now known to breed in the ROK. Most colonies were on small islets in Incheon. The largest colonies contained 150-200 pairs on Yodo; 78-100 pairs on Bido; and 130 pairs on Gujido. This total is much higher than previous national estimates, e.g. of 327+ pairs in 2006, 284+ in 2007, and 295-335 pairs in 2008 (Lee Ki Sup unpublished data). At Songdo, Incheon, two pairs were apparently first noted nesting on a small islet in a lagoon on reclaimed land on April 26th (TE). This number had risen to seven nests on May 23rd (TE, JP). On July 5th, fourteen adults and nineteen fledglings were counted (TE), with 47 individuals present on September 5th (TE, RN, IKW, KDH). During the non-breeding season, nationwide surveys of mostly mainland areas, by members of KWBS in 2009 revealed totals of 25 individuals at two sites in January, 450 present at thirteen sites in August, and 572 at twenty sites in October. Of these, the highest single concentration was of 251 at Gangwha Island on October 18th.

Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus V1
Now recorded annually or near-annually, with most records in May and June. In 2009, an adult male photographed on Weiyeon Island on May 7th remained on-site until at least May 31st (RN, SKS). On Gageo Island, a male and female were photographed on May 23rd (NM), and one or more were recorded on Heuksan Island in late May (KNP 2009). At Soneul-ri, Jeju Island, one was recorded in June (JES), becoming apparently at least the 15th record for the ROK.

Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis V1
An overshooting migrant in months April-June, recorded annually in recent years with at least 13 previous records so far traced by Birds Korea. One photographed on Heuksan Island on May 18th (PJG) was followed by another individual seen on Gageo Island on May 24th (NM).

Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Japanese Night Heron Gorsachius goisagi V1
In Jeju City, a pair successfully raised two chicks, garnering national media attention (JES, SBS). This is the first breeding record for Korea and apparently only the second breeding record outside of Japan. Elsewhere, one seen on Gageo Island on April 23rd (RN, NM) was followed by one at Weiyeon Island, Chungcheongnam Province, on May 3rd (CHY).

Striated Heron Butorides striata S3 Br: 1
An adult photographed at Seogwipo, Jeju (MP) on January 17th is the second adequately-documented mid-winter record in Korea of the species known to Birds Korea (after the first also from Jeju Island in December 2008). In the latter half of the year, an adult was found at Seogwipo, Jeju Island, on December 3rd, and an immature, also at Seogwipo, on December 5th (MP).

Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus P/S5 WV2 Br: 1
Increasingly regular as a migrant; recorded breeding in several areas and also rarely overwintering. One at Hado, Jeju, on January 4th (MP, MB) was followed by another seen at Hwajin Po, also on Jeju Island, on January 13th (TBV).

Lesser Frigatebird Fregata ariel V1
Recorded annually in recent years, often associated with the passage of typhoons through southern Japan and southern Korea. One seen at Weiyeon Island on August 29th (LKG) remained until at least September 4th (KNP).

Red-footed Booby Sula sula V2
An immature, seen (but not photographed) some 2km east of Heuksan Island on July 25th (NM) is only the second national record of this species, after the first was collected in 1986.

Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus P3
A nest was observed at Bukbang-myeon, Hongcheon-Gun, Gangwon Province on August 16th (Cho et al. 2010). This is the first documented record of breeding in the ROK. However, this species had long been suspected of breeding here. Gore & Won (1971) noted that the species “had been observed on a number of occasions in the Gwangneung forest in summer and may breed”. In addition, recent summer records include one photographed at Yangpyeong on July 29th 2005 (CSK), another photographed at Pocheon on June 9th 2008 (LSI), and another photographed over Taebaek, Gangwon Province on June 27th 2009 (YHS). During southward migration, 4,372 were counted on Socheong Island between September 19th and October 6th (Kim et al. 2011), with a peak count of 1,100 on September 20th (KSUH, IA, MT). Based on research outlined by Higuchi (2011) it is reasonable to assume that the ROK supports a substantial proportion of the Japanese breeding population of Crested Honey Buzzard during northward migration (as all 28 satellite-tracked individuals from breeding grounds in Japan migrated through Korea at this time) and that birds recorded during southward migration more likely derive from the East Asian mainland (as the same satellite-tracked Japanese birds migrated through Kyushu into eastern China during southward migration).

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla W4, RV1 Br:1
A widespread winter visitor in very small numbers, usually from mid-November to mid-March, with 48 recorded nationwide by MOE (2009) and individuals on Heuksan and Hong recorded as late as May and as early as September (KNP 2009) suggesting the possibility of continued breeding or oversummering there. An immature photographed at Gwongcheon Marsh Park, Gyeonggi Province, on August 8th (JR, VS) is nonetheless an exceptional mainland summer record. Elsewhere, eleven at Shihwa Lake on January 25th (TE, MP) is a noteworthy winter concentration.

Steller's Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus W5
A rare and local winter visitor, more or less confined to a handful of traditional sites, requiring large open areas of undisturbed habitat such as rivermouths, estuaries, coastal lagoons, broad rivers with islands or sandbars, river valleys: less frequently large lakes inland. In 2009, apparently overlooked by the MOE census, but recorded from ten locations, involving between 13 and 15 individuals:

  1. Haenam Lakes, Jeollanam Province. Two were reported from this area in January (PJG);
  2. Nakdong Estuary, Busan, Gyeongsangnam Province. Two (one First-winter and one Third-winter) were seen on January 3rd (TBV). One First-winter was also present on December 11th (NM, SG, KG);
  3. Miho Stream, Yonggi-Gun, Chungcheongnam Province. A First-winter was present between January 4th and 19th (LSW);
  4. Han River, Paldang, Gyeonggi Province. One adult was seen on January 7th (TBV). Two adults were noted on February 8th (TE, JOL), with one remaining until March 1st (TE, KS). One (un-aged) had returned to the area by November 21st (IKW);
  5. Han River, Paju, Gyeonggi Province. One First-winter was seen on January 9th (TBV);
  6. Yechon, Gyeongsangbuk Province. A First-winter was photographed on February 1st (LSH);
  7. Andong, Gyeongsangbuk Province. An adult was seen near Andong Dam on February 16th (BH);
  8. Namdae Stream, Gangneung, Gangwon Province. A presumed First-winter was photographed on February 26th (JJIM);
  9. Mangyeung River, Jeollabuk Province. One First-winter was photographed on March 1st (ODP);
  10. Nam River, Jinju, Gyeongsangnam Province. An immature was photographed on December 3rd (MF).

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus W3, RV1
A locally numerous winter visitor, with most concentrated in and around the DMZ. Also ranges widely however, being regularly seen in varying numbers throughout the country. One seen at Jeju City on August 16th (KEM) and three at Yangsu Reservoir, Jeju Island, on June 8th (MP) may well involve the same individuals first noted over-summering here in 2005.
In 2009 at least ten birds with individually numbered wingtags - placed by researchers in Mongolia - were recorded:

  • No. H6, Cheorwon, January 7th (JJIM);
  • No. 91, Cheorwon, January 7th (JJIM);
  • No. 85, Gyeongsangnam Province, January 10th (PGH);
  • No. 54, Location unclear, January 11th (SLR);
  • No. 27, Cheorwon, January 17th (SLR);
  • No. 56, Pyongchang-Gun, Gangwon Province, March 7th (SHS). This individual was also photographed in December 2008;
  • No. 81, Pyongchang-Gun, Gangwon Province, March 7th (SHS);
  • No. 45, Nam River, Jinju, December 1st (MF);
  • No. 111, Cheorwon, December 7th (NM, SG, KG);
  • No. 04, Gyeongsangnam Province, December 26th (JJIM).

Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus P/W5
A scarce passage migrant, in very small numbers, generally recorded from mid-September to early November, with <5 overwintering in the far southeast and southwest. Five or six at Seosan on September 20th (NM) is a notably high day-count.

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis schvedowi P/W3, R5 Br:1
A pair bred from April 2007 to August 2009 at Eomjong-Myeon, Chungju, Chungcheongbuk Province (Lee et al. 2011). Breeding was first documented at this location in 2006. During migration, 117 were counted on Socheong Island between September 19th and October 6th (Kim et al. 2011).

Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus P3, S5 Br:1
A pair again bred at Eomjong-Myeon, Chungju, Chungcheongbuk Province, raising three chicks (PJG, BJG). Breeding has been recorded at the same site since 2008 and probably earlier. A further breeding pair was photographed at Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province (KGYS), which also raised three young. Historical cases of breeding are known at least from Anyang in 1948 and Paju in 1967 (both in Gyeonggi) (Gore & Won 1971), and an adult was also photographed in Wonju on July 19th (CTH), continuing a run of mid-summer records in Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces. Such records suggest that the species might be a scarce albeit widespread breeder in these two northerly provinces too. During southward migration (which appears to be highly concentrated in time and space), 7,518 were counted passing through Gageo Island between October 3rd and 11th (Birds Korea 2010), with a peak of 3,600 on the 6th (NM) - the latter record a new national high day-count.

Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius W/P4
A dark morph photographed at Oido, Gyeonggi Province, on January 11th (TL, JL) is only the second national record of this type known to Birds Korea. Apparently there is one similar-looking museum specimen (PJG in lit. 2009).

Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius, Photo © Thomas Langenberg

Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus kamtschatskensis V2
An adult male of the subspecies kamtschatskensis was photographed at Incheon on December 20th (KHJ).

Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga P/W5
A scarce but regular passage migrant, usually involving juveniles, mostly in late October and early November, and a rare winter visitor. In 2009 recorded from at least five locations:

  1. Jeju Island. One seen on January 4th (MP) was possibly the same individual that was photographed at Hado on January 13th (TBV). Towards the end of the year, one was seen in the northeast on November 22nd and December 23rd (BIJ);
  2. Haenam Lakes. Two were reported from this area in January (PJG) and two were also seen there on February 24th (RN, AK, TE);
  3. Socheong Island. One was reported in late September (KSUH) followed by a further individual on October 18th (NM). On November 8th and 9th, three juveniles were photographed together (NM).
  4. Hong Island. One or more were reported in early October and one was seen on one date in late October (KNP 2009);
  5. Seosan Lakes. Presumably the same individual (a heavily spotted juvenile) was photographed and seen on October 4th (KSH), the 11th (RL, GL, HW), November 5th (JSS) and 8th (KJC). In addition, an adult was seen on October 25th (RN, IKW, SCG).

Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis V2
Two, a juvenile and an immature, were present in the Haenam area in January (PJG) with possibly the same juvenile still present and photographed in March (LDJ). At Suncheon Bay, Jeollanam Province, a juvenile was found and taken into care in December (Park 2010). Migrants included a Sub-adult and a Third Calendar-year together over Socheong Island on November 3rd (NM). There are apparently only six or so previous properly-documented records for the ROK.

Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca V1
A rare migrant and annual winter visitor, mostly involving juveniles, in very small numbers and only to a handful of sites. In the Haenam area, an immature was seen on January 2nd (MR), with at least four present there through the month, including an adult-type (PJG). One juvenile was still present on February 24th (TE, RN, AK).

Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos W/P5 Br:3
A scarce and localised winter visitor to ROK, typically from early November to early March, with most records being of First-winter or immature birds. Historically, it used to be a widespread breeding species on the ROK mainland (Gore and Won 1971) and was also considered to be resident on Ulleung Island in 1877 (Kobunruko 1877). In 2009 this species was reported from only four locations:

  1. Haenam Lakes, Jeollanam Province. Two were reported from this area in January (PJG), with one juvenile still present in February (YHS);
  2. Seosan Lakes, Chungcheongnam Province. Up to three were present from at least January 7th to February 12th (KSH);
  3. Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk Province. A juvenile was photographed on January 31st (LSH);
  4. Jeju Island. A juvenile was photographed on May 29th (KHM). This species has been recorded year-round there in recent years (JES).

Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni V2 (Cat.3)
On Socheong Island there was a sighting of a possible First-year individual on October 20th (NM). There are at least three previous sight records of this species from the ROK (all in autumn on offshore islands).

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo P/S3 Br:1
A local breeding summer visitor, commoner northward, and a common migrant (especially through offshore islands). One leucistic individual was photographed on Socheong Island on October 3rd (TE).

Saker Falcon Falco cherrug V1
An irregular migrant, also recorded several times in mid-winter. One seen flying toward Yeon Island (Gunsan City) on May 6th (RN) was followed by singles seen flying in off the sea at Socheong Island on October 21st and 23rd (NM). There are about ten previous Korean records.

White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus P/S5, WV2 Br:1
A scarce migrant through southern and western Islands in spring. One photographed at Yanggu, Gangwon Province, on April 26th (BH) is a rare inland record.

Baillon's Crake Porzana pusilla P5 NN2
A scarce and apparently decreasing migrant, most often recorded on offshore islands. During northward migration, one or more were reported on Heuksan Island between mid-April and early May (KNP 2009) and one was found dead on Eocheong Island on May 27th (IKW). In the second half of the year, one was photographed in Chungcheongnam Province on September 13th (GCS), and one was seen flying low over the ferry between Incheon and Socheong Island on September 27th (SKS). In the southwest, birds were reported on Hong Island in mid-September and on Heuksan Island between late August and early November (KNP 2009) – with a peak of fifteen on Heuksan Island on September 14th (PJG) being easily the highest day count in the ROK known to Birds Korea.

Band-bellied Crake Porzana paykullii V1 NN2
An irregularly-recorded migrant, mostly recorded in May. In 2009 one was seen on Gageo Island on May 21st (NM). In October, one probable was seen on Socheong Island on the 9th, followed by another seen on Gageo Island on the 19th (RN). There are at least 14 previous records.

Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus V2
An extremely rare migrant and over-winterer, recorded near-annually in recent years. An adult was found at Cheorwon in mid-November, and was photographed by KSH on November 19th.

Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus, Photo © Kim Shin-Hwan

Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis V1
Eight seen at Cheorwon on March 1st (KWBS, LGS) is easily the highest concentration yet recorded in Korea. At least four were still present on March 14th (KBS). There are nine previous records of this species known to Birds Korea, all between October and March.

White-naped Crane Grus vipio P3, W4
MOE (2009) recorded 1,790 nationwide in mid-winter. During northward migration, a national survey on March 14th (KWBS, LGS) recorded 2,520 at Cheorwon, six at Yeoncheon, 340 at Paju, and two at Junam, where there had been c.100 on January 3rd (TBV) and were 58 on December 12th (DLC).

Common Crane Grus grus V1
An annual winter visitor in very small numbers from October to March. At Seosan, two pure indiduals and two hybrids were present from January 1st (KJC) to March 26th (KSH), with three hybrids and one pure bird having returned there on November 22nd (KHK), being still present on the 27th of that month (LSW). At Suncheon Bay, two were present on March 14th (LGS). At Cheorwon, one was seen on March 22nd (RN), where also one was photographed on November 1st (PHW).

Hooded Crane Grus monacha P3, W4
MOE (2009) recorded 343 nationwide in the mid-winter. A nationwide survey by KWBS members revealed a very similar total of 355 individuals at four sites on March 14th, with 273 of these seen at Suncheon Bay. During monitoring of southward migration from October 25th-30th, participants counted 4,500 individuals at nine different sites, including a single concentration of 1,970 at Gumi on October 28th (KWBS).

Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis W4
MOE (2009) recorded 1,029 nationwide in mid-winter. The majority were in usual areas, though one also over-wintered at Junam Reservoir, Gyeongsangnam Province, being photographed e.g. on December 22nd (DLC).

Far Eastern Oystercatcher Haematopus (ostralegus) osculans W3, R4 Br:1
A total of 4,382 were recorded by MOE (2009). One photographed on a freshwater stream at Yangju, Gyeonggi Province on September 29th (KBJ) is a rare inland record.

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

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus P/S5, WV2 Br:1
An uncommon but widespread and increasing passage migrant, and rare and local breeder in the ROK. Two were photographed at Namdae stream in Gangwon Province on February 16th (JJOM), becoming the fifth known record of overwintering since 2004. In the DPRK, 14 were recorded at Mundok between April 26th and 29th (Riegen 2009). Tomek (2000) cites only two previous records in the DPRK.

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta V1
A rare annual visitor, recorded mostly in spring and more rarely in winter. At Seosan, Chungcheongnam Province, one was photographed on June 10th (KKS) and two on June 29th (LHS). These are the first June records known to Birds Korea.

Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus V1
A rare but increasingly recorded migrant, typically occurring from mid-April to late May, and again from September to late October. There are also at least two previous summer records. At the Namdae Stream in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, two were photographed on April 18th (HJH), followed by another there in September between the 24th (PYO) and 29th (IKW). On Jeju Island, one was photographed in May (JES) and one was also seen on Socheong island on May 11th (NM). In the autumn, one was on Gageo Island on September 26th (NM).

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula V1
A rare and irregular passage migrant, probably annual or near-annual in the Nakdong Estuary. In 2009 observations included a national high count of five at the Nakdong Estuary on September 13th (JSJ, KHG, KBS), and two at the Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland on October 6th (KSY). The latter is the 13th or 14th record known to Birds Korea.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius P/S3 Br:1
A widespread migrant and summer visitor, with most records falling between early March and late October, with two on Gageo Island on February 24th 2009 (NM) considered an exceptionally early arrival date. The vast majority of mid-winter claims appear to be in error, due to confusion with Long-billed Plover C. placidus. One found and photographed at Seongsan Po, Jeju between January 13th and 15th (TBV) is therefore the first adequately-documented winter record of this species in Korea known to Birds Korea.

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus dealbatus
An apparent “White-faced Plover” C. alexandrinus dealbatus (with clean white lores and paler upperparts than other Kentish Plovers in direct comparison) was seen but not photographed on Yubu Island on September 19th (NM). There are no previous claims in the ROK of this controversial recently re-described taxon (see e.g. Kennerley et al. 2008).

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii P5
A scarce annual migrant. Away from the two main sites for the species (the Nakdong and Geum estuaries) in April one was photographed on Mara Island (JES), followed by one at Seongsan Po, Jeju, on the 19th (KJC) and one on Gageo Island on April 21st (NM, RN). In the autumn one was at Gojang County, Jeollabuk Province, on October 15th (LDJ).

Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus V1
A very scarce migrant, especially in early spring to the southwest (e.g. Jeju and Gageo Island). Three at Muan, Jeollanam Province, on March 28th (HSW) and one in Mid-April on Hong Island (KNP 2009) are the only records in 2009 presently known to Birds Korea.

Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis S/R5 Br:1
A rare and local breeding summer visitor, occasionally overwintering. At Gojang County in Jeollanam Province, a pair raised three young, being photographed from October 9th (ODP) until at least November 12th (LDJ).

Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus V1 Br:1
First recorded in 1993. A rare annual visitor, recorded from late April to early November. Bred in 2004, 2006 and 2007. At Jocheon, Jeju Island, an adult was seen between April 24th (OJG) and May 1st (JSB), followed by a juvenile photographed at Goheung Bay, Jeollanam Province, on October 10th (HDG).

Solitary Snipe Gallinago solitaria P/W5
Away from the regular wintering site at Gwangneung Arboretum, where at least four on January 7th (TBV), one was photographed at Gwacheon on February 14th (PHS), followed by one photographed at Samdo-dong, Jeju Island, in March. Apparently one was also recorded at the same site in March 2007 (JES).

Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus V1
A scarce and irregular migrant, with apparently sixteen previous records from 1998 to 2008, in spring, autumn, and winter. In September, one was photographed and seen by multiple observers at the Namdae Stream in Kangneung, Gangwon Province from the 25th (HJH) to the 29th (IKW).

Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus V1
A very scarce, barely annual migrant, with some thirteen previous records in spring and autumn. One photographed at Gangneung on April 22nd (SHS) remained into May (CCS). At Namyang Bay, one photographed and seen by multiple observers on September 5th was still present the following day (RN).

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa P2, WV2
A locally numerous but fast-declining passage migrant, mostly along the west coast from the Saemangeum area northwards, in May and again from mid-August to early November. At Songdo, a peak count of 800 on September 5th (TE, RN, IKW, KDH) compares poorly to previous years and reflects the ongoing degradation and reclamation at this site as well as the species’ rapid decline. At least 75 photographed at Seosan on June 29th (LHS) is an exceptional record for June. Two at Junam on December 5th (DLC) is an exceptional winter record.

Little Curlew Numenius minutus P5
A scarce, mainly spring migrant, mostly encountered on offshore islands. In recent years there have been increasingly widespread reports, presumably corresponding largely with increased observer activity. In 2009 recorded from at least six locations:

  1. Gageo Island. In April, presumed different individuals were seen on the 22nd, 23rd and 26th, followed by three on the 27th (NM, RN);
  2. Seosan Lakes, Chungcheongnam Province (the only mainland site to regularly host this species). A flock of 20 photographed on April 23rd (KKS) equals the previous existing national high day-count (made in 1993). This was followed by one on September 20th (NM);
  3. Beka Island, Incheon. One was photographed on April 23rd (LSI);
  4. Jeju Island. In April, singles -possibly involving the same individual- were photographed on the 25th (YHS), 26th (MP, KYH), and 29th (KSH);
  5. Hong Island. One was photographed on May 4th (PCW).
  6. Socheong Island. One was seen on August 21st (NM).

Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis P2, S3, WV1
At Mundok Reserve, DPRK, 950 were counted between April 26th and 29th (Riegen 2009). This internationally important concentration is assumed to be the highest count of this species made to date in the DPRK.

Common Redshank Tringa totanus P4, S5, WV2 Br:1
An uncommon passage migrant, rarely overwintering. Also a very rare and local breeding summer visitor. Much of the regular breeding area of shallow freshwater and reeds on Yongjeong Island has recently been lost to drainage and development. Despite this, five were seen there on April 4th (TE, RN, SKS). In addition, one photographed at Sorae Reed Park, Incheon, on June 28th (KGY) perhaps hints at local breeding.

Nordmann's Greenshank Tringa guttifer P4
A very scarce and local migrant. A general lack of survey effort in 2009 resulted in relatively few records in the public domain. At Namyang Bay, Gyeonggi Province, in May, singles were photographed on the 13th (JSS) and 17th (KJC). In September, three were photographed there on the 5th (JHS), one on the 6th (TE), and four on the 8th (SKS). At Yubu Island, Jeollabuk Province, fifteen were counted on September 19th (NM).

Little Stint Calidris minuta V1
A very scarce migrant with approximately ten records since 1996. One was photographed on Ulleung Island on August 30th (PYO).

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea P5
An uncommon passage migrant from late April to late May, and again from mid-August to early October. In 2009, about 20 were reported in total during northward migration and only two or so during southward migration.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus P5
A rare, rapidly declining and very local migrant. Due to a paucity of coverage, the only spring record was of one in the Nakdong Estuary, Busan (via Kim & Chung 2012). During southward migration, there were four at the Nakdong Estuary on September 13th (JSJ, KHG, KBS) and at Yubu Island (Geum Estuary) two on August 21st (KSY); one photographed on September 18th (CHS); seven seen on September 19th (NM) and two on the 20th (LYS); and three photographed on October 5th, with one still there on the 18th (YHS). In early October, one was also photographed on Jeju Island (via BIJ).

Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus P3
An uncommon, local migrant. A count of 1,300 on Yubu Island on September 19th (NM) is remarkably similar to the high count of 1,251 within the (former) Saemangeum Estuarine System in October 2007 and of 1,130 at Yubu Island on May 24th 2008.

Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius V1
Rarely recorded. Four, probably three adults and a juvenile, were seen approximately eight kilometres west of Eocheong Island on August 28th (BF, NM, RN). There are apparently less than ten previous records nationally.

Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla P2, W3
A locally common winter visitor to Korean waters, especially along the East Coast between October and March, and a locally abundant migrant through the Yellow Sea in October and November. Highest counts this year off Socheong Island included 2,320 on October 23rd; 4,320 on November 1st; and 6,300 on November 2nd (all NM)- the last presumed to be a new national high day-count.

Saunders's Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi P/W3, S4
A very local breeding summer visitor to one or more sites, more widespread along the west and south coasts in winter. MOE (2009) reported 1,944 nationwide in the mid-winter, simuilar to counts made by the same census in 2004 and 2006. West coast counts for Birds Korea in January included 101 at Gomso Bay on the 2nd, 270 at Cheonsu Bay / Seosan Lakes on the 9th, 278 at Asan Bay on the 10th, 184 at Namyang Bay on the 10th, 584 at Song Do on 11th and ten at Gangwha Island on the 14th (all TBV). At Song Do, at least 200 were still present on March 22nd (TE). By May 12th much of the area formerly used by the colony there had been built on or used as storage space (KDH), although breeding continued by shifting to adjacent newly reclaimed land, where chicks were observed on June 7th (KDH). The entire nesting area remains unprotected and open to disturbance. At Yeongjeong Island on April 4th, the former colony near the airport had been dispersed - apparently to reduce the risk of bird strike - by the emplacement of numerous red flags and streamers over the nesting area (TE). However pairs were photographed engaging in courtship behaviour on April 1st (JJM) suggesting possible breeding at an alternative, nearby site. In the DPRK, 82 were at Mundok between April 26th and 29th (Riegen 2009).

Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus W5
A rare and declining winter visitor now in very small numbers to a few preferred sites (most especially Song Do and the Nakdong Estuary): more numerous in hard winters than mild ones. Not reported by MOE (2009). In January, a First-winter was at the Nakdong Estuary on January 3rd, followed by one at Song Do on the 11th (TBV).

Pallas's Gull Ichthyaetus icthyaetus V1
A rare winter and early spring visitor, first recorded in 2002. One adult, of two seen on December 28th 2008, was still present at Goheung, Jeollanam Province on January 3rd (MR). Another adult was photographed on January 18th at Guidok-ri on Jeju Island (KHM, JES) - becoming the 13th national record.

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus W4/SV2
A fairly common winter visitor, mostly to the east coast, where sometimes forms loose aggregations of a dozen or more individuals. Very rarely recorded in summer. One seen on Heuksan Island on March 23rd (NM), and one photographed on Jeju Island on November 14th (JES) are rare records for the southwest.

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides V1
A vagrant in winter to the east coast, not recorded annually. A First-winter was seen at Yangyang, Gangwon Province, on January 7th (MR).

Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus P/W3, S4 Br:1
At Song Do, Incheon, breeding at the mainland colony continued, with seven nests counted on April 8th (TE) and twelve on May 23rd (TE, JP). A wing-tagged individual "AG33" (originally banded at Lake Baikal: see: was seen at Janggu Bay on the Geum Estuary on January 1st (TBV).

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica V2
A rare and irregular migrant, mostly seen in spring. One seen at sea between Incheon Port and Socheong Island on June 23rd (RN) is approximately the 14th national record known to Birds Korea.

Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia V1
In the present decade, a near-annual visitor, most regular in early spring. In April, one photographed at Namyang Bay on the 12th (LSI) was followed by another at the Seomjin River, Jeollanam Province, on the 21st (KDW). The latter is approximately the 15th record for the Republic of Korea. One at Mundok between April 27th and 29th (Riegen 2009) is the first record for the DPRK known to Birds Korea.

Aleutian Tern Onychoprion aleuticus V2 (Cat.3)
Presumably a scarce but regular offshore migrant, although still awaiting photographic documentation. Two were seen between Incheon Port and Socheong Island on August 31st (NM).

South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki V1
A scarce but regular migrant, usually seen from commercial ferries in offhsore waters, first recorded in 1995. One seen near Socheong Island on April 16th (NM) is the first April record in Korean waters. Two photographed between Heuksan Island and Mokpo on July 29th (PJG) become the first adequately-documented record (previous photographs were not clearly recognisable as this species): it is also the first July record. This was followed by one pale bird and two more probable individuals seen between Gageo and Bigeum Island on the 31st of that month (NM). In October between Incheon Port and Socheong Island, one was seen on the 2nd (SKS), three on the 16th (NM), and three on the 25th (MVR). There was also one between Mokpo and Gageo Island on the 21st (RN).

South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Thick-billed Murre Uria lomvia V1/W5
A very scarce winter visitor to the east coast. First recorded in 2006 but presumably much overlooked. On January 17th, up to ten were seen (and two of them photographed) offshore from Gosong-Gun, Gangwon Province (PJG), becoming the highest national day-count. At the same location one was seen on February 15th (IKW). On December 9th, three were seen offshore from Geojin Harbour, Gangwon Province (NM, SG, KG), and one was photographed from Gangneung on December 13th (GCS). Additionally a murre, most likely Thick-billed, was seen at sea between Incheon and Socheong on September 21st (NM). This is an exceptional date and location, being the first sighting of a large alcid species in the ROK part of the Yellow Sea. Possibly the same individual was seen in the same area on October 1st (TE).

Thick-Billed Murre Uria lomvia, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Common Murre Uria aalge V1/W5 Br:NN
A scarce winter visitor to the east coast of the ROK, presumably much overlooked. At least formerly bred along the northeastern coast of the DPRK, where current status unknown. Two seen from Hwajinpo, Gangwon Province on January 5th (TBV) were followed by one off Geojin on December 9th (NM, SG, KG).

Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo W5 Br:NN
The highest national count, at least in recent decades, was of at least 90 seen from a fishing boat off Hwajin Po on January 5th (TBV). Neff (1956) describes a large breeding colony in 1953 of this "abundant" species on Konghui and Nan Do Islands, some 150km to the north of there, at 40° North, now within the DPRK. "Several" were seen again at Hwajin Po on January 6th (TBV), followed by one at Ayajin Harbour on January 18th (PHS) and February 28th (LSI), and one or two near Daejin Harbour on March 8th (RN, IKW, SKS).

Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix W5
A scarce but annual winter visitor, presumably much overlooked. In January, two were off the Guryongpo Peninsula on the 4th; one was seen from Hwajin Po on the 5th (TBV); four or five were at Gosong-Gun on the 17th (PJG); and one was seen from Jukbyeon Port on the 20th (TE, NM). In February, up to five were seen at Yeongil Bay, Pohang on the 5th (LHW, CSK). In December, four or five were off Geojin on the 9th (NM, SG, KG) and one was photographed at Jangsa Port, Sokcho, on the 13th (OTS).

Long-billed Murrelet Brachyramphus perdix, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus P/W1, S4
A common winter visitor and declining local breeder. Sample counts this year included 500 off the Guryongpo Peninsula on January 4th and 1,200 off Hwajinpo on January 5th (TBV).

Crested Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume V1 Br:1/3
A rare and very local breeder. Up to ten were seen and well-photographed in April and May off Mara Island, Jeju (JES). These are the first photographs of this species in Korea in recent years.

Crested Auklet Aethia cristatella
A small, all-dark alcid (considered most likely to be this species) was seen by NM briefly in flight and as it landed in among a concentration of 1,000+ Rhinoceros Auklet close to Jukbyeon Harbour, Gangwon Province, on January 20th).

Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata P/W3 NN
A locally common winter visitor especially to the east coast, most frequently-recorded between Samcheok and the Guryongpo Peninsula. Thought to possibly breed in DPRK. High counts in January included: 1,450 in a single scan 10km south of Uljin, the 4th (TBV); an estimated 2,500 off the Guryongpo Peninsula on the 6th (MR); and c. 1,000 in a single scan off the Jukbyeon harbour headland on 20th (NM, TE, PM).

Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata, Photo © Robin Newlin

Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris R5 Br:1
A very small, relict breeding population survives in the ROK. Considered to be a scarce but relatively widespread breeding resident in the DPRK. At Hwaum Temple, in the Jirisan National Park, 14 were photographed on March 9th (CSY), with 16 counted there on August 7th (IKW, JSS). At Cheonun Temple, also within Jirisan, 15 were present on December 31st (RL, HW).

Black Wood Pigeon Columba janthina R/S4 Br:1
A very local offshore resident and summer visitor. A recent publication reported this species as a breeding resident in Chuja-Myeon (between Jindo and Jeju in the far southwest of the country) including Chuja, Peurengi, Sasu, Jupo, and Heukgom islands, and on offshore locations from Seogwipo (Jeju), including Mun, Bom and Seop islets and Chigui Island (JES). On Gageo, targeted research confirmed that the species was resident on the island, with between 20-30 active territories in the north of the island (Birds Korea 2010).

Red Turtle Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica V1
One was on Heuksan Island in early June (KNP 2009).

Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto V1 Br: NN2
Not recorded annually. One photographed at Gangneung City on October 9th (HJH) was followed by another at Cheorwon on November 29th (KHK). The latter is considered the seventh record since 2000 (possibly involving only six individuals), most of which are supported by photographs. Earlier sight records of two from Gangwha Island on October 13th 2002 and from Osaek, Gangwon Province on June 26th 2009 are no longer included in the species total as observers apparently did not consider possible confusion with escaped or released African Collared Dove Streptopelia risoria (See "Exotics" section below).

Spotted Dove Stigmatopelia chinensis V2
One photographed on Socheong Island on May 17th (NM) is the second record for Korea, after the first in May 2006. It was still present there on May 23rd (RN, SKS, PJG).

Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis, Photo © Robin Newlin

White-bellied Green Pigeon Treron sieboldii V1
A rare winter and spring visitor, recorded annually since 2004. One female reported from the Halla Arboretum, Jeju in January (MP) was still present on April 23rd (YHS) and 24th (KSH). This was followed by a male on Chilbal Island on September 30th (PJG). The latter is about the 16th record for Korea.

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus V2 Br:1
A rare spring overshoot. The remains of one were found on Baek Island, Jeollanam Province, in late May (KHWY) – approximately the fifth Korean record.

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus V2
In April, one was apparently reported on Socheong Island (KDW), and an all-dark cuckoo, most probably this species, was also seen briefly there on June 23rd (NM). There is only one previous, adequately-documented record of this species (in 2001).

Large Hawk-Cuckoo Heirococcyx sparverioides V2
One was seen and sound-recorded on Gageo Island on April 21st and 22nd (NM, RN). It was followed by an apparently different individual heard and seen on April 23rd, and a further individual seen at close range on April 28th (NM). These constitute the third to fifth records for Korea.

Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus Addition to Category Three
One heard calling on Gageo Island on April 29th (NM) is the first record of this species in Korea. The species will therefore be added to the 2013 Birds Korea Checklist.

Owl Tyto spp.
A medium-sized owl, considered to be a species of Tyto, was seen on Socheong Island at 0520 on October 25th, and again on October 26th at 0520 and 2030 hrs (NM).

Ural Owl Strix uralensis R5 Br:1
Apparently a scarce resident in upland areas of Gangwon Province especially, with some apparently moving to lowland and coastal areas in the winter. A study from 2009 to 2010 found this species to be resident in Odaesan National Park, Gangwon Province, being frequently observed in at least twelve different locations within the park (Kim et al. 2011). At Mt. Seorak, Gangwon Province, one was photographed on June 27th (RN).

Little Owl Athene noctua V1 Br:1
A rare species recorded most frequently during migration and in winter, in recent years recorded annually. One at Chungju on February 26th (PCW) was present until at least February 28th (TE, RN, IKW). One was reported from Beka Island on May 13th by local birders (via TE), and one was photographed on Socheong Island on October 1st (TE, SKS, KSUH).

Little Owl Athene noctua, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Northern Boobook Ninox scutulata japonica P/S3 Br:1
A fairly common migrant and breeding summer visitor. One photographed at Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, on December 1st (JSS) is an exceptionally late autumn record.

Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris V1
During the decade, a near-annual visitor with most records during the northward migration period. In May two were photographed on Heuksan Island on the 16th, with one still present on the 17th (PJG).

Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus P/S2 Br:1
A common but apparently decreasing passage migrant and local summer visitor. A count on May 23rd of 480 on Gageo Island, where small numbers breed, (NM) is the largest count of the species this year known to Birds Korea.

House Swift Apus nipalensis V1
A rare, primarily spring migrant through southern and western Islands, not recorded annually (but probably much overlooked). Sightings of one from Gageo Island on June 27th and July 2nd (NM) are the first national records for June and July.

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops P/S3, WV2 Br:1
Reports of overwintering have continued to increase in recent years. At Shihwa Lake one was photographed on January 22nd (PHS). In December, one was at Seogwipo, Jeju on the 3rd (MP); one on Yongjeong Island, Incheon, on the 6th (NM, SG, KG); two at Junam on the 8th (DLC); and one at Eulsuk-do, Busan on the 28th (JB).

Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus R5 Br:1
A rare resident, formerly much more common (especially in the northwest) and now apparently slowly increasing again. At Gwangneung Arboretum, where most regularly recorded, one was seen on January 2nd (TE). In February in Chungcheongnam Province, one was photographed at Cheongju on the 3rd (SJE) and one at Gongju on the 6th (KJH). At Munsan in Gyeonggi Province, one was photographed on the 26th (KGS). In recent years records have come from e.g. Jichuk, Gupabal, Hoegi and Nowon-Gu in Seoul; Goyang City, Ilsan, Namyangju and Paju in Gyeonggi Province; Sikjangsan in Daejon City; Jirisan National Park; Muan County and Yeosu in Jeollanam Province; and Okcheon in Chungcheongnam Province.

Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha P/S4 Br:1
A very local breeding summer visitor, primarily to Jeju Island, but also known from a scattering of sites across the mainland (scarcer northwards), from mid-May to September. Also occasionally recorded on offshore islands on passage. Between April and November 2009 a survey found a total of 64 individuals at 32 sites on Jeju Island, and 11 individuals (including 5 juveniles in 3 nests) were also observed in Hampyeong County, Jeollanam Province (Kim et al. 2010). Also on the mainland, one was photographed in Daejeon on June 5th (LSW).

Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis V2
Korea’s first record, found and photographed on Mara Island, Jeju, on May 30th (GCH) apparently remained there until at least June 7th (via MP). 2009 was an exceptional spring for “overshooting” Blue-winged Pitta, with singles also found and photographed in Hong Kong, Shenzen Province, and Taiwan (GC).

Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus V2
One found and photographed on Socheong Island on June 23rd (NM) is the first record for Korea of this presumed largely sedentary species. It was still present on June 24th (NM, RN, KSH), but could not be found in July. The first record of this species for Guangdong Province, China, was found in late April 2009 (GC), while the first national record for Malaysia was in mid-February 2008 (DB).

Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus, Photo © Nial Moores

Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus P3 Br:1
A rare and local summer visitor, formerly common. Also a fairly common passage migrant, especially through offshore islands. Among interesting observations in May, three confusus showing unusual white wing-patches were seen on Socheong Island on May 16th, where a high count of 78 was noted on May 17th. In addition, a male superciliosus (V2) was poorly photographed on Gageo Island on May 22nd (all records NM).

Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio V2
A juvenile seen and photographed on Gageo Island from September 29th was joined by a second from the 30th, both remaining until October 5th (NM). This is only the third adequately-documented record for Korea. In addition to the first records from 2004 and 2005, there are at least six more suspected records, all juveniles, with several showing possible hybrid features. Most of these records probably also pertain to “pure” Red-backed Shrike.

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio, Photo © Nial Moores

Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach V1
A rare but increasingly reported species, most regular as a migrant. The species appears to be becoming resident in tiny numbers in the southwest. On Jeju Island two over-summered (MP, PJG) and one was also present in December (JES). On Gageo Island one was seen from February to late June, and again in October (NM). Likewise on Heuksan Island, a pair was present throughout the summer (PJG) and until at least the end of October (KHK). On the mainland, one was at Junam Reservoir from November 26th (DLC) until at least December 10th (NM, SG, KG), with singles also at Gurye-Gun, Jeollanam Province on April 14th (JH) and Chungcheongnam Province on April 23rd (LHW).

Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach, Photo © Robin Newlin

Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor V2
A juvenile sibiricus, photographed on Socheong Island on October 24th (NM), is only the seventh record of this species for the ROK and the first record of this subspecies. There are six previous records, from November to March.

Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, Photo © Nial Moores

Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus V2
Apparently first recorded in 1953 (JES), with annual reports since 2003. This year a probable on Gageo Island on May 23rd (NM) was followed by one photographed on Chuja Island, Jeju in August (JES). There are about ten previous records known to Birds Korea, with perhaps an additional two or three other records which at present remain less well-documented.

Black Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata P/S4 Br:1
An uncommon breeding summer visitor especially to Jeju Island and to a handful of sites on the mainland. Also a scarce migrant through through offshore islands from late April to late May, and again in September. In 2009 a breeding pair (first discovered in 2007) was again photographed in Gunsan on June 13th (RN).

Northern Raven Corvus corax NN Br: NN3
One seen and very poorly photographed from Socheong Island on October 21st (NM) is the first record for the ROK. There are (at least) three previous records of this species in Korea, all from the northernmost province of DPRK (Tomek 2000-2002).

Japanese Waxwing Bombycilla japonica P/W4
A scarce passage migrant and irruptive winter visitor. Reports of flocks this year included 27 at Pohang on March 14th (RL, HW, AB); 20 at Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk Province on April 3rd (LSH); and at least fifteen at Wonju, Gangwon Province on April 4th (PCW). Elsewhere, lesser numbers or singles were seen at Mt. Halla, Jeju in March (JES); Olympic Park, Seoul on March 28th (LSY); Hongneung, Seoul, on April 18th (PHS); and on Socheong Island on May 22nd (RN).

Yellow-bellied Tit Periparus venustulus V1
Increasingly recorded in the ROK since the first in 2005 (which was also the first observation of this species outside of China). The pattern of records in 2009, with records on both the west and east coasts, suggests that Yellow-bellied Tit is now both a migrant and a rare winter visitor to the ROK. In January, one was seen at Dadapo, Busan, on the 3rd (JL), with two males then found at the same location on the 5th (MR). A male was photographed at Gangneung City (Gangwon Province) on February 16th (HJH), and on March 30th, a flock of eight (mostly males with at least one female) were photographed on Dokjeok Island, Incheon (JBS). In April, two adult males were photographed on Wonsan Island, Boryeong, Chungcheongnam Province on the 6th (PUN, GJH); an adult male was found dead at Ansan city, Gyeonggi Province on the 9th (PUN, GJH); and an adult female was also seen on Eocheong Island on the 27th, with an adult male photographed there on the 28th (JT). In October records included: a female banded on Heuksan Island on the 11th (KSJ); a female photographed on Bigeum Island, Jeollanam Province, on the 14th and 15th (GKN); a juvenile on Socheong Island on the 19th (NM); a First-winter male at Namhansan, Seoul on the 29th (IBH); a First-winter male and a female photographed at Seosan City on the 29th (JHS); and a different, adult male photographed at the same location on October 31st (LKG). Two or three were then seen on Socheong Island on November 4th (NM). Finally three, including a female, were seen and photographed by multiple observers on Dongbek Islet, Busan, from December 8th until the year’s end (KGS). The latter record becomes the 24th record known to Birds Korea.

Eastern Great Tit Parus minor R/W1 Br:1
An abundant and apparently increasing breeding resident, including on offshore islands, and an occasionally abundant migrant and irruptive winter visitor. Noteworthy observations in 2009 included up to 100 moving out to sea in one hour on October 18th and 2,400 counted moving northwest out to sea between 0630-1500hrs on October 21st (NM).

Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella cheleensis V2 NN
A rare vagrant to the ROK. In October, one seen and photographed on Socheong Island from the 16th-27th (NM) was followed by two on Hong Island from the 22nd or earlier (PJG), which remained until at least November 1st (SKS), and one or more on Heuksan Island (KNP 2009). Also in November, one was seen on Gageo Island on the 17th and 18th (NM). There are probably only two genuine previous records of this species in the ROK within the past decade, and fewer than five previous records in total, despite the large numbers claimed in some literature.

Asian Short-toed Lark Calandrella cheleensis cheleensis, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris V2
One, of subspecies brandti, was photographed on Hong Island on April 2nd (KNP). This is only the second record for Korea. The first involved one of the subspecies flava, photographed at Sohwang Sand Dune near Boryeong City, in Chungcheongnam Province on October 7th 2007 (Kim et al. 2007).

Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis S5, RV2 Br:1
This species has been steadily colonising the ROK since the first record in 2002. On Gageo Island in February, one or two on the 22nd, and two others at a different roost site on the 23rd (NM) constitute the first confirmed records of multiple overwintering of this species in Korea. Small numbers were recorded there each month during monthly survey, from April 21st (NM, RN) through to at least September 28th. Notably during this period, however, between two and four juveniles- clear evidence of local breeding- were seen on July 27th. Gageo Island’s peak day-count was of seven on September 28th (all latter records NM). On Socheong Island, this species was recorded at least monthly between March 17th to November 9th, with the highest counts being of up to nine on March 17th and eight on May 18th. Interestingly, one was seen to depart the island and head toward the DPRK (where as yet unrecorded) on May 14th (all records NM). New locations for this species in 2009 included Mara Island (Jeju), where one was photographed in May (JES), and Aphae Island, Jeollanam Province, where one was photographed on June 10th (JMH).

Sand Martin Riparia riparia P4
An uncommon passage migrant. One very late northward migrant photographed at Donghae, Gangwon Province on June 17th (PHS) foreshadowed a Sand or Pale Martin-like bird seen on Socheong Island on June 23rd (NM). This latter individual featured a very pale mantle and rump, a shallow tail fork and upperwing contrasting with flight feathers.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica S/P1, WV2 Br:1
Formerly one of Korea’s most abundant birds, now a declining summer visitor and migrant. Autumnal congregations included 300 at Hwaseong on September 19th (TE, SKS) and 250 over Socheong Island on October 3rd (TE). Overwintering was attempted at Junam Reservoir, where low numbers were seen between November 20th and December 15th, with a peak of 14 on December 8th (DLC).

Common House Martin Delichon urbicum lagopodum V1
First recorded in 2003, thereafter a scarce but increasingly reported migrant through offshore Islands in April and May, and again in September and October. In April, on Gageo Island one probable on the 3rd (NM) was followed by one on the 19th, two on the 26th, and one on the 28th (NM, RN). Three were also seen (one photographed) on April 26th on Eocheong Island (JT). Between one and three were recorded on Heuksan Island in early May (KNP 2009). Further records (all by NM on Gageo Island) were two on May 23rd; one on May 24th; and singles on September 28th and October 5th.

Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus P3, S/WV2 Br:NN
Mostly an offshore migrant through the ROK. Two seen on Heuksan Island on March 2nd (PJG) are markedly early; and singles seen on Gageo Island on June 27th and July 1st (NM) are rare midsummer records.

Japanese Bush Warbler Cettia diphone R, W3 Br:1
A widespread but perhaps uncommon breeding summer visitor to subapline habitat on the mainland (widespread in Jeollanam, more locally extending as far northeast as 37° 46’ N in Gangwon Province): KNP (2009). Also a resident and locally common breeder in the southern coastal zone and on southwestern and western offshore islands, as far north at least as Weiyeon Island. A count of 140+ on Gageo Island during a whole island survey of breeding birds between June 26th and 28th (NM) provides a useful indicator of local abundance. On Socheong Island (at 37° 45’ N), two singles seen and heard (NM) on November 4th and 6th (where no mid-winter or summer records) provide the first clear evidence of migration through the northwest.

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus caudatus W3/4
The white-headed subspecies (generally considered to be nominate caudatus) is an irruptive winter visitor, very scarce most years. One photographed and sound-recorded on Heuksan Island on March 23rd (NM) is unusual so far south, although it is apparently sometimes recorded there in winter (PJG pers. comm. 2009).

Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix V2
First recorded in 2007. One seen (very briefly) on Gageo Island on April 21st (NM, RN) is the second record for Korea.

Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus P3, S4, WV1 Br:1
A fairly common migrant from late April to late May, and again from late September to early November (especially in the northwest). Also a scarce breeding summer visitor to the far northeast of the ROK. One seen on Gageo Island between February 19th and 24th (NM) is at least the seventh record of overwintering since 2001.

Tickell’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinis V2
One on Gageo Island on May 3rd and one on Socheong Island on May 12th and 13th (NM) - both photographed and sound-recorded- are only the fourth and fifth national records. All records are attributable to the newly-separated P. occisinensis (see Martens 2010).

Tickell's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinis, Photo © Nial Moores

Yellow-streaked Warbler Phylloscopus armandii. V2
One seen and heard at close range on Socheong Island on May 10th (NM) is the second record of this species in Korea, after the first in May 2007. This was followed by a further probable individual at the same location and by the same observer on May 17th. In the autumn, one was photographed on Socheong Island on October 26th (NM), becoming the fourth national, and first adequately-documented record.

Pallas's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus P3, S4, WV2 Br:1
A locally common migrant, particularly through the northwest. Also a scarce breeding summer visitor to the far northeast. One or two seen at Hampyeong on December 12th (NM, SG, KG) is apparently the first mainland mid-winter record. There is one previous mid-winter record (from Jeju, in 2006).

Hume's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus humei mandelli V1 humei V2
A very scarce, annual, but probably much overlooked passage migrant, occurring from late April to early May, and again from late October to early November. This year one seen on Gageo Island on April 27th (NM, RN) was followed by singles on Socheong Island on May 9th and 10th; on October 17th and 20th; and on November 7th (NM). One was reported on Heuksan Island in mid-October (KNP 2009).

Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus borealoides V2
Apparently a very scarce but regular migrant through the ROK, particularly southern islands, from late April to early May (and perhaps again in mid-August to September), although status is clouded by the difficulty of separation in the field from the much more numerous Pale-legged Leaf Warbler P. tenellipes. In April, one possible on Socheong Island on the 12th (NM) was followed by a probable on Gageo Island on the 19th. Also on Gageo Island, one was sound-recorded singing in 3-Gu on the 29th (when images of presumably the same bird were also taken), followed by another heard singing on the 30th in forest at the top of the island (NM).

Claudia’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus claudiae V2
One photographed and sound-recorded on Socheong Island on April 14th (NM) is the first record for Korea, and has been added to Category 1 of the Birds Korea Checklist.

Claudia's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus claudiae, Photo © Nial Moores

Thick-billed Warbler Phragmaticola aedon P4 Br: NN
A scarce migrant to offshore islands in the ROK part of the Yellow Sea, commoner northward, recorded in mid- to late May, and from late August to late September. In May, first recorded on Socheong Island on 17th (NM), with ten there on the 22nd (RN) and three on Gageo Island on 25th (NM). On Socheong Island, there were three on August 21st, one on 22nd, six on September 15th, and one or two daily until September 18th (all NM).

Baikal Bush Warbler Bradypterus davidi V2 Br:NN2
A rarely recorded species. One was photographed on Socheong Island on May 22nd (SKS). There are fewer than ten previous records.

Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella ochotensis P3
An uncommon migrant recorded from late May to early June, and again from August to early November. Seventeen seen on Gageo Island on May 22nd (NM) is apparently the second-highest national day count to date.

Styan's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella pleskei P/S3
A scarce and local summer visitor primarily to southern and western Islands, from late May to late September. On Socheong Island, three were heard in song on June 23rd-24th, but not in late May or susequently (NM). On Gageo Island, first heard on May 20th; with a total of 32 logged during whole-island survey between June 25th and 28th. Approximately 15 pairs were considered to be breeding in four well-separated areas of bamboo. The first fledglings were seen on July 5th, and the last observation (that of a juvenile present in the same area since early September), was made on October 1st (all NM). On Eochong Island, where two were seen on June 6th (SKS), breeding territories were threatened by the mass-removal of their bamboo habitat. On Mara Island, Jeju, breeding was again observed in August (JES), where a survey found eleven breeding pairs in 2008 (Kim, E-M et al. 2009).

Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca V2
One photographed on Bigeum Island, Jeollanam Province on August 27th (GKN) mirrors a similar record from nearby Heuksan Island in August 2008. There are seven previous records for the Korean Peninsula, mostly in winter.

Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus R2 Br:1 simplex P4
Eight simplex were seen on Gageo Island on April 29th (NM). Japonicus is a common resident breeder and migrant through the south coastal zone and along the west coast, breeding at least as far north Eocheong and Weiyeon Island. Until the present decade, it was considered to be much scarcer further north, and Park (2002) traced only two records for Gyeonggi Province. However, since then there have been multiple records. In 2009, one was photographed at Namhansan on June 13th (IBH), becoming the first June record for Gyeonggi Province. In October, one was also photographed there on the 20th (PHS), followed by one at Mt. Gyeyang, Incheon, on the 22nd (KHJ). At least one was also at Namhansan on November 3rd (KJC).

Chinese Nuthatch Sitta villosa W5 Br:NN
A barely annual irruptive winter visitor. The only record of the year appears to be of three at Hwajinpo, Gangwon Province, on December 9th (NM, SG, KG).

Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris R/W5 Br:1
An irregular irruptive winter visitor, very scarce in most years. Also considered to be a rare breeding resident. In Odaesan National Park, three fledglings were observed on June 14th (Kim C-H et al. 2010). Although breeding had previously been strongly suspected based on frequent summer records, this is apparently the first adequately-documented breeding record of this species in the ROK. The only known winter record this year away from Odaesan was of one at Hampyeong on December 12th (NM, SG, KG).

Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus P/W4, S5 Br:1
First recorded in 2000. By 2009 an uncommon migrant, overwinterer and local breeder, and apparently present in varying numbers all year-round on Jeju Island, where breeding first confirmed in 2007. Fifty-one, photographed at Jumunjin, Gangwon Province on February 9th (PHS, KWBS) is the largest overwintering flock yet recorded. Elsewhere, a flock of 32 was seen on Jeju Island on December 20th (MP, KYH).

White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus W/P/S2 Br:1
A flock of at least 300 at Jeju City on January 12th (TBV) was the highest mid-winter concentration known to Birds Korea in 2009.

White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis V1
A scarce but annual overshooting migrant, usually recorded singly on offshore islands. One photographed at Daejeon city on April 26th (KJC) is a rare mainland record. One was on Hueksan in late April, with records of the species continuing through to late May, and one was also on Hong Island in early May (KNP 2009). Additionally, four were on Gageo Island on May 3rd (NM).

Siberian Thrush Zoothera sibirica P4, SV2 Br: NN2
A scarce migrant, mostly through offshore islands. Thirty coming in off the sea on Socheong Island on May 16th were followed by at least 30 (and probably many more) grounded around the island on May 17th (NM). On the mainland, where typically very scarce, three were at Gwacheon, Seoul, on September 13th (TE, RN). This has apparently been a regular site for this species in recent years.

Common Blackbird Turdus merula mandarinus P5, RV1 Br:1
A scarce migrant, mostly through offshore islands in spring. Overwintering was again noted on Jeju Island, where an adult male was photographed at Hanrim-eup, Jeju City, on February 27th (CSK), with another or the same male photographed there again throughout December (JES). There are at least three or four previous records of overwintering.

Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus P2
A locally common migrant, mainly through offshore islands from early April and especially in May, and again from late September to mid-November. Peak counts in 2009 came from Socheong Island, where at least 300 on May 16th and 230 on May 17th (NM).

Brown-headed Thrush Turdus chrysolaus P3/4
An occasionally locally common spring migrant, from early April to mid-May, commonest on southwestern offshore islands. Scarce on the mainland. In 2009 the maximum count was of 20, on Gageo Island on April 25th (NM, RN).

Black-throated Thrush Turdus atrogularis P/WV1
A very scarce winter visitor and migrant, from early October to late April. There was a First-winter on Gageo Island on March 25th (NM); at least one on Hong Island (in early and in mid-April) (KNP 2009); and one First-winter on Socheong Island on April 14th (NM). In the autumn, one was photographed on Socheong Island on October 5th and 6th (BDB).

Red-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis P/W5
Typically a rather scarce winter visitor and migrant, from early October to late April. In January, three (including one adult male, one First-winter male and one female) seen at Namhansan on the 7th (TBV) were followed by one at Cheorwon on the 8th (JL); one photographed at Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province on the 30th (IKW); and one again at Namhansan on the 31st (KJC). A First-winter was at Paju on February 27th (YHS), and an adult male was still present at Namhansan on March 6th (RN). In April, one or two were on Hong Island early in the month (KNP 2009); one was photographed on Socheong Island on the 14th (NM); and a First-winter male was photographed at Daejeon City on the 23rd (PHS). In October, one probable was sighted on Gageo Island on the 19th (RN) and two were seen on Socheong Island on the 28th (NM).

Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus P/W2
A common migrant and local winter visitor, especially in the south. On Socheong Island on April 15th, a conservative estimate of at least 4,000 seen to arrive in off the sea (NM), is perhaps the highest day-count nationally.

Redwing Turdus iliacus V2
One found and photographed in Cheorwon County on January 8th (TBV) is the second record for Korea, and the first supported by images. It could not be relocated subsequently. Eurasian Redwing has apparently been recorded ten or more times to date in neighboring Japan, where coverage is more extensive, with records from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.

Redwing Turdus iliacus, Cheorwon, January 8, Photo © Kirsten Kraetzel

Chinese Thrush Turdus mupinensis V2
At least one was on Hong Island in early April and again in late April. One was photographed on the Chungcheongnam coast on May 1st (CHY) (although initially thought possibly to be a Song Thrush T. philomelos, the image matched Chinese Thrush much better in several details). Soon after, one on Weiyeon Island, Chungcheongnam Province, from at least May 2nd-5th (SKS, KSH) was seen and photographed by multiple observers. This becomes approximately the seventh record for Korea, all in spring.

Japanese Robin Luscinia akahige P5
A scarce migrant (primarily in spring), mostly through the southwest and southeast. One was photographed on Mara Island in April- apparently the first record for this most southerly Island (JES). Further north, one was photographed on Weiyeon Island on April 12th (ODP). On Socheong Island, one was seen on April 12th, and a different individual was seen and photographed on April 14th and 16th (NM).

Siberian Blue Robin Luscinia cyane P/S2 Br:1
A fairly common breeding summer visitor and spring migrant, peaking in late May. Scarce in autumn, when recorded into October. On May 14th, on Socheong Island, there was a noteworthy high count of 110 (NM).

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros rufiventris V1
First recorded in 1999. A very scarce overshooting migrant recorded from early April to early May. In April, one male was photographed on Mara Island on the 7th (KHM). Another found on Eochong Island on the same date remained until the 10th (NM, MS, ES). On Hong Island, one was present on the 18th, where one was also banded on the 22nd (both latter records PJG).

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros, Photo © Michael Stubblefield

Guldenstadt's Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogastus
A male, perhaps a First-winter, was seen on Gageo Island on October 16th (RN). Unfortunately it was not photographed. As a first record for Korea seen only by a single observer without prior experience of the species, it has been added to Category 3 of the 2009 Birds Korea checklist.

Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus V2
One was on recorded on Hong Island in mid-April (KNP 2009)

Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti V2
One on Eocheong Island from May 2nd - 5th (CSHN) was seen and photographed by multiple observers (e.g. RN, IKW, SKS). Another was photographed on Gageo Island on October 5th (NM). The latter is only the third record for Korea, after the first in January 2008.

Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti, Photo © Cho Seung-Ho

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius pandoo V2
One was on Hong Island in mid-April (2009) and a presumed Second Calendar-year pandoo was photographed on Socheong Island on May 18th (NM). There are probably only three or so previous records of this vagrant taxon:

Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina narcissina P4 owstoni V2
An uncommon migrant, mostly through southern and western Islands, from mid April to late May. Rarely recorded in autumn (October). On Gageo Island on April 17th, a male with greenish tones to the mantle also showed a white wing-spur, recalling owstoni. This was followed by a Second Calendar-year male owstoni on April 29th (NM).

Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva V1
A vagrant to East Asia which has been increasingly reported in the ROK since the first in 2003. Much of the increase in records is likely due to greater survey effort on offshore islands and improved identification criteria. In 2009, one was photographed and sound-recorded on Gageo Island on April 27th (RN, NM) and one was sound-recorded on Socheong Island on May 13th (NM). In the autumn on Socheong Island, one was photographed on October 19th (NM), followed in November by one on the 2nd (RN) and 3rd (NM), and two separate individuals (both photographed; one sound-recorded) on the 6th and 8th (NM). Lastly, one on Gageo Island on the 16th (NM) becomes approximately the 14th record for Korea.

Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla P3
An uncommon migrant, mostly in May, and again from mid-September to mid-November. Highest counts came from Socheong Island in May, where there were sixteen on the 16th, and 26 on the 17th (NM). The latter is apparently a new national day-count.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus V2
First recorded in 2001, one photographed on Gageo Island on November 18th (NM) becomes the seventh record for Korea. To date, all have been of single birds on offshore islands, on Jeju or in the West Sea, between September 23rd and November 27th.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus, Photo © Nial Moores

Russett Sparrow Passer rutilans R/W/P4 Br:1
A large wintering flock of c.250, photographed at Pohang on February 22nd (LYS) is assumed to comprise birds from the breeding population on Ulleung Island. This mainland flock had apparently dwindled to eight by March 14th (RL, HW, AB). Elsewhere, one on Gageo Island on April 17th (NM, RN) is a noteworthy record.

Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata V2
Six photographed at Seogwipo, Jeju, on November 14th (MP) is the fourth record for Korea, after the first three records in late October 2003.

Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata, Photo © Mathew Poll

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris R/P/W4 Br:NN
A scarce but sometimes more widespread winter visitor to mountain peaks with open areas of bare rock, from mid-October to early April. It may also more rarely be encountered on offshore islands or lowland areas on passage. In 2009, one photographed on Mt. Halla in April (JES) is only the 2nd record for Jeju Island after the first in 2001. Up to fifteen on Mt. Gaya, Chungchongnam Province, on November 7th (JJIM) is a notably large concentration. Elsewhere in the ROK, this species was recorded in 2009 from Mt. Geumjong, Busan, where two were present from January 7th (JSS) to at least March 1st (JB, CB); Mt. Dobong, Gangwon Province on January 7th (RN); Mt. Suam, Ansan, on February 25th (JJOM); Mt. Mani, Gangwha Island on February 25th (PHJ); and at Yeongam, Jeollanam Province on February 28th (JHJ).

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida V2
One photographed at Goncheol-Eup, Gyeongju City on April 9th 2009 (KTG, JYG, LYM) is the first adequately-documented record of this species in Korea. There is one previous multi-observer sight record of this species, from Busan in March 2001.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis taivana P3/W5
Continuing the recent trend of overwintering, two taivana were at Hadori, Jeju, on January 13th (TBV). This is only approximately the seventh overwintering record since the first in 2007, all apparently involving taivana.

White Wagtail Motacilla alba personata V2
In an amazing series of observations (especially considering the relatively poor coverage of West Sea islands) the first personata White Wagtail for Korea was seen and photographed on Hong Island, Jeollanam Province between 3pm and 6pm on April 7th by KNP staff. The same (or an extremely-similar looking individual) was then observed and photographed “fresh-in” at the lighthouse on Eocheong Island (175 km to the NE from Hong Island, across open sea) shortly before midday on the 8th (NM, MS, ES) where it was seen for less than ten minutes. On April 11th apparently the same individual was then photographed a further 15 km to the NE, on Weiyeon Island (PJH, YHS).

White Wagtail Motacilla alba personata, Photo © Michael Stubblefield

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis V1
A rare but annual migrant to offshore islands. In 2009, one was on Hong Island in mid-April (KNP 2009) and another was photographed on May 2nd (KJC). One was also seen on Mara Island in May (JES).There are about twenty or so previous records since the first in 2000, in April and May, and again from early September to late October.

Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni P1, W3, S5 Br:1
A common migrant and uncommon but widespread winter visitor. On July 28th, one was seen in song-flight and apparently on territory at the top of Mount Halla, Jeju (MP). This comes after a pair and nest with four chicks was photographed in the same area in July 2007 (JES)- which remains the first and only adequately-documented breeding record of this species for the ROK. Elsewhere, at least 1,000 on Socheong Island on April 15th (NM) is a noteworthy count.

Rosy Pipit Anthus roseatus V2
One non-breeding plumaged individual photographed on Mungap Island on May 25th (KJC) is about the 8th national record (six of which have been in the present decade).

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus P2, WV2
One at Gomso Bay on January 2nd (TBV) is apparently only the fifth mid-winter record known to Birds Korea.

Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta V1
An extremely scarce migrant and winter visitor. This year, one photographed at Misari on the Han River on February 6th (IBH) was followed by another individual on Eochong Island, Jeollabuk Province on April 18th (CSK). On Socheong Island, presumably the same individual was seen on November 4th and 8th (NM). There are at least 17 previous records.

Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea V1
At the Namdae Stream in Yangyang on February 1st, one was found dead (KHK) and another was photographed (JJOM). On February 18th, a flock of 30+ was found on Heuksan Island (KWY). Four were also seen on Gageo Island on February 22nd (NM). On February 23rd, a flock of 25 was found in Paju, which was seen by numerous observers and remained until at least March 1st (JDM). Finally, on Socheong Island, one was heard on March 20th (NM). These are the largest numbers of Common Redpoll recorded in recent decades in the Republic of Korea. It appears that the species might once have been much more numerous as Gore and Won (1971) wrote that in some years “huge flocks may be encountered throughout the country.” However, in a review of the literature Park (2002) could only trace 30 or so records of the species in total.

Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea, Photo © Robin Newlin

Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni V2
At least two, and probably up to four, were photographed accompanying the flock of Common Redpoll C. flammea on Heuksan Island on February 18th and 19th (NM, PJG). This is apparently only the second record for the Republic of Korea, after the first (poorly-photographed individual) on Eocheong Island in late October 2002.

Arctic Redpoll Carduelis hornemanni, Photo © Park Jong-Gil

Asian Rosy Finch Leucosticte arctoa V2
A flock of up to twenty on Mt. Gumjeong, Busan, first found in late December 2008, remained until at least January 21st when 17 were counted (TE). This is apparently the first flock to have been seen by a large number of observers in Korea. In addition, a flock of 28-30 finches, probably of this species, was seen on Gageo Island by NM on November 17th. There are less than ten previous records listed in Park (2002), with exceptional numbers last seen in 1998, when there was one on Dobongsan, six on Bukhansan (in Seoul) and 300 in Taebaek City, Gangwon Province.

Asian Rosy Finch Leucosticte arctoa, Photo © Robin Newlin

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus P4, WV2 Br:NN
On the mainland, where very scarcely recorded in winter and spring, one was at Namhansan on January 7th (TBV), two were at Uiwang on April 5th (TE), followed by one at Seongnam, Seoul, on November 28th (KJC).

Pallas's Rosefinch Carpodacus roseus W3/4 Br: NN2
An irruptive winter visitor to ROK, uncommon most years, recorded from late October to early April. This species was virtually absent in the previous two winters, and early 2009 was another poor year. The only record traced by Birds Korea involved two or three heard at Namhansan on January 7th (TBV). In the second half of the year, there were seven on Socheong Island on November 3rd, followed by one or two on the 4th, and nine on the 8th (all NM).

Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra W/P3, SV1 Br:2
A fairly scarce passage migrant and winter visitor, recorded from early October to mid-May. This year, two mainland flocks were noted. At Seosan, 23 were seen by multiple observers between April 4th (LHW) and April 30th (CHS). At Jumunjin, Gangwon Province, a flock of at least ten was present from April 30th (SHS) to May 3rd (KJC).

Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes W2 Br:NN
A widespread and irruptive winter visitor, commoner northward, from mid-October to late April. This species was relatively abundant in the winter of 2008 / 2009. In January, at least 100 were seen at Cheorwon on the 8th (TBV), followed by 230 at Imjingak on the 9th. The irruption reached as far south as Jeju Island, where the species was seen on February 14th (MP) and Gageo Island in the far southwest, where there were four on February 24th (NM). Possibly among the last of the season were six at Gangwha Island on April 29th (JB). Hawfinches were also unusually common in the second half of the year, with for example 40 seen at Cheorwon on December 7th (NM, SG, KG).

Japanese Grosbeak Eophona personata P/W5
A scarce migrant and winter visitor. A flock of 25 at the National Arboretum, present since late December 2008, remained until at least March 8th 2009 (JJIM).

Japanese Grosbeak Eophona personata, Photo © Robin Newlin

Pine Bunting Emberiza leucocephalos P/W5
A very scarce passage migrant and winter visitor, recorded from late October to late April. On Socheong Island, singles were recorded on October 25th and November 1st (NM).

Tristram's Bunting Emberiza tristrami P2, S3, W5 Br:1
Unseasonal birds included four at Halla Arboretum, Jeju on January 13th (TBV); one at Gurye, Jeollanam Province on January 17th (BDB); and one at Hampyeong, Jeollanam Province on December 12th (NM, SG, KG). There are at least nine previous records of overwintering since 2001, all from the southern provinces.

Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata P/S3, W4 Br:1
A breeding area, apparently supporting a loose "colony" of more than ten pairs, was discovered along the banks of the South Han River near Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province. Unfortunately, this area has already since been lost to “landscaping” as part of the Four Rivers Project (SKS, KWBS).

Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans W/P1, R2 Br:1
A common winter visitor, migrant and (less numerous) breeding resident. A count of 490 on Socheong Island on November 1st (NM) was noteworthy.

Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola P3/4 Br:NN3
An uncommon and fast-declining passage migrant. Passage generally from late April to late May and in autumn from late August to early November. At least 50 on May 16th on Socheong Island (NM) appears to be the highest-recorded concentration of the year. One on Gageo Island on November 18th (NM) is unusually late.

Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila P2, WV2
A fairly common but declining passage migrant, mostly from late April to late May and again from late August to late October. Peak counts of this species in 2009 came from Socheong Island in May, where there were 1,220 on the 12th, 120 on the 13th, 350 on the 16th, and 300 on the 17th (all NM).

Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps V2
A female was photographed on Eocheong Island on May 13th (LYS). On Gageo Island on September 27th, one or more probably two large buntings (either Emberiza bruniceps or E. melanocephala) were found. On the 28th one E. bruniceps remained and was photographed, last being seen on September 30th (NM). There are at least five previous records, although the total could be rather higher, as several additional records of E. bruniceps / E. melanocephala remain unidentified to taxon.

Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata P4
A scarce spring migrant, mostly to southern (and to a lesser extent western) islands from early April to late May. On Gageo Island, one bird photographed with a Japanese ring on April 17th (RN) is, according to Kiyoaki Ozaki of the Yamashina Institute, only the second such re-sighting out of Japan (even though more than 5,000 have been banded there). On Gageo, there were twelve on April 21st; 19 on April 24th; and at least 26 on April 26th (NM, RN) - the latter perhaps the highest day count of this species yet recorded in Korea.

Grey Bunting Emberiza variabilis P/W4
A somewhat irregular, typically scarce and local migrant through the southern coastal zone and western Islands, from late February to the end of April. Winters locally in small numbers in the far southeast and Jeju Island. On Jeju Island there were between ten and fifteen at Halla Arboretum on January 13th (TBV), and one at Seogwipo on April 22nd (MP). On Gageo Island, one or two on March 28th were followed by one on April 2nd (NM). In the second half of the year, one or two on Socheong Island on November 4th (NM) were followed by one or two there on November 11th 2004.

Ochre-rumped Bunting Emberiza yessoensis P/W4
A scarce passage migrant and winter visitor, much overlooked, recorded from mid-October to mid-May. Winter sightings included one at Eulsuk-do, Busan on February 28th (JB, CB). In April, one was on Eocheong Island on the 9th (NM, MS, ES), while on Socheong Island, singles were recorded on the 14th and 16th (NM). Two were also photographed on Mungap Island on the 25th (LSI). In May, singles were seen on Socheong Island on the 9th and 10th (NM). In October one was on Gageo Island on the 18th, where also two on the 20th (RN). On Socheong Island one was present on the 20th (NM). Apparently the last record of the year was one at Seosan on December 13th (NM, SG, KG).

Ochre-rumped Bunting Emberiza yessoensis, Photo © Michael Stubblefield

Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis V1
One winter-plumaged male was seen - but not photographed- at Kongreung stream, Paju, on February 4th (KSMI). There are fewer than ten previous Korean records of this species.

Newly Traced Exceptional Pre-2009 records

Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis
A paper in Russian by Kosygin et al. (1984) traced and translated by Alex Bond includes the following: "Fulmar: A flock of 50 birds (one collected) observed on March 23, 1962 (See Figure A, number 2). As VP Shuntov (1972) notes, this species is rare in the Sea of Japan during cold times of the year." Based on the figure, this observation was made approximately 50km from the DPRK coast, well within the maritime military boundary that, according to Wikipedia, lies 50 nautical miles (92.6 km; 57.5 mi) offshore in the East Sea. This species will therefore be added to the 2013 Birds Korea Checklist.

Tufted Puffin Fratercula cirrhata
A specimen held in the Museum of Nature and Human Activities, Hyogo, Japan, was apparently collected from Dumangang, Gyeongheung-Gun, Hampgyeongbuk Province, DPRK on August 2nd 1933. This species will therefore be added to the Birds Korea Checklist in 2013.


The following are non-native species believed to have escaped or been released deliberately. They are included here for completeness and as they could pose a potential identification challenge.

White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Two from Jeonju Animal Park were deliberately released into the Saemangeum area on August 6th 2007, apparently to "improve" the local environment. These individuals survived on a regular feeding programme and were frequently photographed at the Mangyeung and Dongjin Rivers, most recently in 2009 on January 3rd (LHC), and September 19th (ODP).

African Collared Dove Streptopelia risoria
The domesticated form of the African Collared Dove S. roseogrisea, otherwise known as the Barbary, Ringed, Ringneck or Ringed Turtle Dove, is frequently kept as a pet in the ROK. Occasionally escapees or deliberately released birds are encountered in the wild, typically close to habitation. In 2009, free-flying individuals were photographed in e.g. Gyeonggi Province on April 22nd (IBH) and at Uiwang (KHK). Observers in the ROK should be aware that this highly variable taxon nonetheless often appears rather similar in the field to Eurasian Collared Dove S. decaocto. African Collared Dove, however, is shorter-tailed and may also show a relatively odd-shaped forehead; usually has greyish (not black) primaries and whitish (not grey) undertail coverts. It also tends to show less black on the underside of its relatively shorter tail, warmer rufous tones to the upperwing; and is often much tamer and more approachable.

Black-headed Munia Lonchura malacca
At closest, native to Taiwan, where resident. Introduced populations exist in Osaka and Tokyo. One was photographed in Olympic Park, Seoul, on August 22nd and 23rd 2009 (LSY).



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