Warm (typically between 15-20°C mid-month), with often excellent birding weather: dry, sunny, and relatively calm. Occasional rain, although uncomfortable for birdwatchers, can produce excellent falls. One of the best times to be birding in Korea!
Autumn migration is in full swing, and anything is possible! Black-faced Spoonbill and Chinese Egret are still reasonably widespread. Hooded and White-naped Cranes start moving south into Korea, with several thousand in the DMZ. Huge concentrations of Tundra Beans and Greater White-fronted Geese form at the Han-Imjin and Seosan. The charismatic Baikal Teal arrives in force mid-month, with up to 200 000 at Seosan! Raptor migration is often strong, with Grey-faced Buzzards (day peak of 1 500 on Gageo island), Oriental Honey Buzzards, the occasional eagle (especially Greater Spotted), Northern Hobby, and the odd Amur Falcon.
Shorebirds are still present in good numbers and diversity, with a peak in Nordmann's Greenshank. Visible migration peaks with Olive-backed Pipits becoming very numerous by mid-month along the west coast, plus excellent numbers of buntings and flycatchers. Pale, White's, and small numbers of Dusky Thrushes are also on the move, along with the first of the typical winter passerines, Brambling and Siskin.
(The following records are a compilation of our own sightings and records sent in by other observers. As well as being posted on the Birds Korea website(s), selected records are also forwarded to other Korean-language birding websites; records of threatened species are arranged and forwarded to Birdlife International and national authorities when appropriate; flag images and records are passed to bodies responsible for their coordination throughout the flyway; and all records sent to us are used to compile annual reports and to support the evolving understanding of the status of many of Korea’s birds.)
Seosan, October 31
An excellent day's birding, in perfect weather (calm and mild after early morning frost). First bird seen well was a First calendar year Greater Spotted Eagle perched on the roadside at dawn...soon after Hooded Crane (58 or 59 counted), and huge numbers of ducks and geese. Estimates for the day (with most time spent at Lake A, and only 2 hours at Lake B) included 250 000 - 260 000 Baikal Teal (first count done in thousands as birds sat on water on Lake A; second in evening when strung out in flight), and 100 000 "grey geese", with likely 60 000 Greater White-fronts, 35 000 + serrirostris Bean and 5 000 (at most) middendorffi. In addition, the huge geese flocks contained at least two Lesser White-fronted (one full adult on Lake B, one first winter on Lake A) and one white-phase adult Snow Goose, while other species of note included at Lake B a single Oriental White Stork (with 3 reported in Seosan area on 30th by Kim Hyun-tae), a single First-winter Black-faced Spoonbill in rice-fields and a Greater Painted Snipe, while on or near Lake A there were 2 presumed first winter Upland Buzzard, 2 Chinese Grey Shrike, and wintering species like Chinese Penduline Tit (ca 10) and Pallas' Reed Bunting (10+) in addition to late autumn migrants like Mongolian Plover (4), Far Eastern Curlew (2) and Richard's Pipit (3 heard in total).
Gunsan Vicinity, Geum Tidal Flats, October 30
Notable today, 8 Long-billed Plovers, thousands of Baikal Teal in the fresh water side of the Geum, Penduline Tits in the reeds, a Black-winged Stilt, Northern Lapwings increase to 37, an Osprey, the return of female Swan Goose R90 among 22 Swan Geese, a few Saunders' Gulls, a Northern Goshawk in the Industrial Zone, a couple of dozen Northern Shovelers, a Siberian Stonechat, Goldcrests on top of Oh-seong Mountain, the first Goldeneye of the fall in the Gunsan Reservoir.
Socheong Island and Ferry, October 29 - 30 am
With continuing moderate westerly winds and cool temperatures (ranging from 5 C at dawn to a maximum of only 10C), little sign of a mass movement of birds until the early hours of the 30th (when e.g. over 100 Dusky Thrush and 100+ buntings seen in first 30 minutes of light, after a night with Common Greenshank, curlew sp and Black-crowned Night Heron heard).
On 29th close to 80 species, with most noteworthy being an immature White-tailed Eagle, a Hume's Leaf Warbler (personal first of the autumn) and probably 4 Light-vented Bulbul (suggesting at least two new arrivals). From (inside) the ferry on the 30th, only 4 Pomarine Jaeger but one Flesh-footed Shearwater noted.
Hong Island, October 28
After a week with e.g Pine Bunting and Red-throated Flycatcher, news of a Swinhoe's Rail banded on Hong Island...the first record for South Korea since 1930!
(Many thanks to Kim Sung-Hyun for the information (for more information and images from the National Parks Migratory Bird Centre, go to: http://npmbc.or.kr. For more of Kim Sung-Hyun's excellent images, go to www.birdksh.com).
Ulsan, October 28 - 29
A huge influx of 7,500 - 8,000 pasternator Rooks noted on Ulsan
Socheong Island, October 28
Heavy rain briefly early morning signalled the passage of a vigorous cold front (bringing strong northwesterly winds and a drop in temperature with a maximum of only 10C). Despite the excellent-seeming conditions, rather few migrants obvious, with most numerous being e.g Yellow-throated Bunting (ca 75) and Yellow-browed Warbler (ca 25), as well as Common Buzzard (ca 20) and Northern Goshawk (ca 15+).
Species of note included a "new" Ochre-rumped Bunting, 2 Japanese Quail and 11 Hawfinch, while rarest for the day was a first year Red-breasted Flycatcher - only the 4th or 5th national record (with 2 or 3 of these coming from Socheong late last autumn).
Socheong Island, October 26
With persistent fog under clear skies, limited movement of birds, but still some excellent birding, with a scattering of typical late autumn migrants (Siberian Accentor, Pallas's Leaf, Dusky Thrush etc), and a few late "earlier" migrants including single Richard's and Pechora Pipits, Arctic Warbler and Yellow Wagtail.
The North Point (near the harbor) produced most of the excitement, holding 6-8 Chestnut-flanked White-eye, 1-2 more Chinese Nuthatch (the third record on Socheong this autumn already) and the Pied Harrier still. In addition, a check of one bush there revealed a loose flock of 7 buntings: singles each of Pallas's Reed, Common Reed, Ochre-rumped, Black-faced, Chestnut, Yellow-breasted and Meadow! The balance was then somewhat spoiled by a further two Pallas's Reed dropping in...
Socheong Island, October 25
With dense fog persisting much of the day, few arrivals, and comparatively little time spent in the field. Numbers of Great Tit obviously well down on the past 2 days, while numbers of several species of bunting seem to have continued to increase. Highlights of the day were the juvenile Pied Harrier still, and decent views of an Ochre-rumped Bunting (first glimpsed on the 23rd).
Busan, October 24
Apparently an Oriental White Stork was found today in one area, while two Pheasant-tailed Jacana (present for the past week) also remain. Site of both species are being withheld by observers due to concerns of disturbance from photographers.)
Socheong Island, October 24
With decreasing visibility due to haze then fog, and only a light westerly wind, movement gradually came to a halt during the day. In the morning especially, the same or another Great Spotted Woodpecker (found on 23rd), a new Chinese Nuthatch (suggesting a winter influx might be under way), the same juvenile Pied Harrier and presumably the same Light-vented Bulbul (2), and increased numbers of Great Tit (600+), Goldcrest (75+) and buntings (with 15+ Yellow-browed and 75+ Yellow-throated Buntings for example). Other species of note included 4 Common Rosefinch, 25 Common Crossbill, and still 10+ Bullfinch (the only male seen so far, and that in flight, appeared to be of the subspecies cassinii).
Socheong Island, October 23
With clear skies and light westerly winds, an excellent day, with 84 species logged. Highlights included excellent views of a Collared Scops Owl, a juvenile Pied Harrier, a juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle, a Yellow-legged Buttonquail, a Bluethroat, a Dark-throated Thrush, ca 500 Great and 50 Coal Tits, and best of all a male Two-barred Crossbill, seen briefly in flight loosely with a group of 13 Common Crossbill (this is quite likely only the second or third record of Two-barred Crossbill in South Korea).
Oh-seong Mountain, Geum Tidal Flats, Kunsan vicinity, October 23
Again checking the Ji-gok Dong canal produced Long-billed Plovers. This time there were two juveniles and two adults. Also there, a rather late Cattle Egret was seen. A few hundred Bean Geese and a few score Greater White-fronted Geese are now at the Geum. The first Northern Lapwings have appeared. Thirteen were counted. Upriver at least three Eurasian Wigeons were seen as well as about 1000 Baikal Teal. A group of eight Coot were there as well.
Tristram's Buntings were on the top of Oh-seong. My first Siskins for the fall were on the slopes.
On both dates (23rd and 24th) this weekend 6-8 Swan Geese were at the Geum.
Songdo, October 23
Hundreds of moulting duck are now bunched on the lagoon - mostly Pochard, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail, Spot- billed Duck and Mallard. Also 40 Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall and 14 Little Grebe.
Last of the waders were represented by 25 Common Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Marsh Sandpiper.
On the ever-diminishing mudflat, a mix of Mongolian, Vega and Black- headed Gulls now, with 3 lingering Black-faced Spoonbill a pretty sight. 8 Common and 12 Ruddy Shelducks parade on the sands once more, heralding colder weather.
Geum Tidal Flats and Ji-gok Dong Canal, October 22
A canal in Kunsan's Ji-gok Dong had four or five Green Sandpipers as well as a juvenile and an adult Long-billed Plover. A Peregrine Falcon made a run at the shore birds at the Geum in which a group of 20 or so Bar-tailed Godwits were seen.
Socheong Island, October 22
With gradually moderating Northerly winds (Beaufort 6-4), and a high of only 13C, a real late autumn feel to the birding. Among 74 species logged by NM during day most noteworthy included Siberian Accentor (with ca 50 logged, including one flock of 35 seen by the "Japanese team"), Chinese Penduline Tit (3-4), a single Two-barred Greenish Warbler, three species of Rosefinch (single Common, Long-tailed and Pallas's Rosefinches), Bullfinch (15), Common Crossbill (12) and Rook (15).
Outstanding highlight came in the evening. A sheltered sun-trap attracted several feeding warblers and tits, including a juvenile/first year (male) Yellow-bellied Tit - a first for Korea. A series of record digiscope shots were taken, which reveal the bright yellow underparts, the strong double wing-bar and the extensive pale nape-patch of this Chinese endemic.
Socheong Island, October 22
"Large Owl": 1
Incheon Ferry and Socheong Island, October 20
A calm crossing in clear sunshine produced 70+ Streaked and one Flesh-footed Shearwater, as well as 21 Pomarine Jaeger and a single South Polar Skua.
On the island, rather few birds, but those that were present included more than a few surprises. These included still 6 Alpine Accentor (with 7 present on 19th), a male Chinese Nuthatch (also found on 19th, though seen only by NM on 20th), a Red-throated Thrush (a first winter male), a Pheasant and apparently 2 Hazel Hen (!!!) all found by the "Japanese Team", as well as a lone Carrion Crow, a Eurasian Nuthatch, and what appeared to be a pale phase Booted Eagle (all NM), a species as yet unclaimed in Korea. The presumed Booted was watched at medium-long range perched on electric wires, before it flew up to join a gathering kettle of 40 Buzzard and 3 Black Kite. Tentative identification was based on structure (long-tailed, shortish-necked, lack of secondary bulge) , size (ca 10% bigger than Common Buzzards it was with) plumage (including very white-looking underparts with some dark on the head and contrasting pale upper wing coverts with very dark, blackish-brown secondaries and primaries; white uppertail coverts/rump band; plain, unbarred tail etc), and flight action: straight, confident, with glides on very flat wings. Unfortunately no photographs or closer views were obtained...and the bird could not be refound to confirm identification.
Socheong Island, October 20
Hazel Grouse: 2 (again, none resident on island or on neighboring islands), Blyth's Pipit: 1, Alpine Accentor: 6, Red-throated Thrush: 2, Light-vented Bulbul: 2
Socheong Island, October 19
Alpine Accentor 7, Two-barred Greenish Warbler: 3, Chinese Nuthatch: 1
Socheong Island, October 18
Imperial Eagle: 1, Ring-necked Pheasant: 2 (!!) This species is not found either here or on neighboring Daecheong Island, with the closest being found on Baekryeong, ca 15- 20 km distant).
Socheong Island, October 17
Relict Gull: 1 First winter seen at the lighthouse (this record is exceptional, being the earliest autumn record ever in Korea by 2 weeks, and the first one of Relict away from typical habitat), Pallas's Leaf Warbler: 40+
Socheong Island, October 16
Red-rumped Swallow: 800+, Northern House Martin: 1 (description received: ca 5 previous records nationally), Chinese Grey Shrike: 1, Chestnut-flanked White-eye: 12
NE River, October 18
A rather overly optimistic search for early-returning Scaly-sided Merganser turned up ca 60 Mandarin Duck, 2 Baikal Teal and a Brown Dipper. Almost giving up, after 5 hours or so of searching, a last scan before departure revealed an extremely distant whitish spot in the river...hurrying much closer and identification confirmed: 2 drake Scaly-sideds in absolutely immaculate plumage!
Socheong Island, October 19
2 Red-flanked Bluetails by the stream were followed with 2 Chestnut, 10 Black-faced, 2 Rustic and 4 Tristram's Buntings, several Yellow-browed, 2 Pallas' Leaf and 1 Korean Bush Warbler, 5 Olive-backed Pipits and single figures each of Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Japanese Lesser Sparrowhawk and Peregrine. 1 leucopsis was mingling with 7 ocularis White Wagtails.
Socheong Island, October 18
Rather fewer raptors in evidence today - 30 Japanese Lesser and 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawks, 6 Goshawk, 1 Hobby, 10 Peregrine, 4 Common Kestrel and 20 Common Buzzards. 1 dead Long-eared Owl was found washed up at the pier.
ca 300 Oriental Greenfinches passed through in flocks, also 100 Siskin and 60 Brambling. Ca.70 Great and 2 Coal Tits, 1 female Red-flanked Bluetail, 30 Black-faced and 1 Little Bunting. A lone Daurian Jackdaw frequented with 2 Large-billed and 1 Carrion Crow.
At the lighthouse, 1 Chestnut-flanked White-eye, 15 Yellow-browed, 4 Pallas' Leaf, 1 Arctic and 1 Two-barred Greenish Warbler (TE). The Japanese team reported an Imperial Eagle out to sea.
Socheong Island, October 16
Early morning at the lighthouse revealed 1 Daurian, 2 Grey and 3 White-Shouldered Starlings. 2 Chestnut, 4 Yellow-browed, 3 Tristram's and 10 Little Buntings foraged in the scrub, along with 7 Bramblings. Many Red-rumped/Striated Swallows continued overhead, also 10 Siskins and 1 freshly dead Woodcock (hit by a car). 2 Olive -backed and 1 Red-throated Pipit.
Only 2 Amur Falcon for the day signalled the end of their passage, also 30 Common, 2 Upland and 5 Crested Honey Buzzards, 30 Japanese Lesser and 3 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 4 Goshawk, 20 Peregrine and several Common Kestrel through.
Sea watching near the lighthouse produced 7 White-winged Scoter, ca 50Streaked Shearwater, 80 Pelagic Cormorant, 200+ Black-legged Kittiwake, and 1 Red-necked Grebe (TE).
Also 2 likely Minke Whales cruised by, showing the characteristic slightly hooked dorsal fins, situated far back towards the tail.
Incheon-Socheong Island, October 16
4 Pomarine Skuas (RN) were sighted from the boat, followed by brief views of 10 presumed Pacific Divers on arrival at the Island.
A great day for raptors: Amur Falcon passed overhead in almost unbroken stream, with a single flock of 73 and a day count of 118 birds. The Japanese team ( Toshikazu Onishi, Yozo Koshiyama and Atsushi Igari) reported 300 by days end.
Also 4 Common Kestrel, 5 Hobby, 15 Peregrine, 60 Common, 2 Crested Honey, 2 Upland and 1 Grey-faced Buzzard. Around 30 Goshawk, 2 Eurasian and 15 Japanese Lesser Sparrowhawks.
Also notable were 15 Ashy Minivet, 1 Pallas' Leaf Warbler, a mixed group of Japanese and Chestnut-flanked White-eyes, 1 Olive-backed and 2 Pechora Pipits, 3 Korean Bush Warblers, 1 Black-faced Bunting and a steady overhead passage of ca.200 Red-rumped Swallow.
Kunsan Vicinity, including the Man-gyeong and Geum, October 16
At the Geum tidal flats an Osprey was perched and six or seven Swan Geese were on the far north shore. Black-browed Reed Warblers were still among the reeds. Also in that vicinity an Olive-backed Pipit was seen, others were heard today. A single Common Shelduck has arrived as well as a couple of hundred Pochard and a few dozen Tufted Ducks. One group of Black-tailed Godwits contained 300+ birds. A few Bar-tailed were visible as well. On Oh-seong Mountain several Ashy Minivets were heard and one was sighted. Tristram's Buntings and Black-faced Buntings were there as well as a Yellow-browed Warbler.
At the Man-gyeong, a group of four White Spoonbills and four Black-faced Spoonbills were seen. One of the Black-faced Spoonbills was banded with a red band on its upper right leg.
Geum Tidal Flats, October 15
Eight Swan Geese were seen on the south side of the Geum's tidal flats digging in the mud. Also there, a single Marsh Sandpiper was among the other shorebirds. On the North side of the tidal flats a single juvenile Black-winged Stilt was seen. Upriver a group of eight Gadwalls were the first of this species I've seen since spring.
Weiyeon Do, October 10 - 13
Highlight was an apparent Siberian Chiffchaff (the third record for South Korea, following one this spring on Eocheong and the first on Hatei Island in April 2004, found by Kim Sung-Hyun and Kim Dong-Won).
Gwangneung and Han-Imjin/Imjingak, October 11
The last day of the tour, and ca 67 species logged including several outstanding highlights. Near the arboretum, brief views of both Black and White-backed Woodpecker were enjoyed by many in the group, while the area also held 100 Brambling, a Two-barred Greenish Warbler, a Red-flanked Bluetail (heard only), and good numbers of Tristram's (ca 50 logged), Chestnut (10) and Rustic Buntings (40: NM).
In the arboretum, despite huge crowds of schoolchildren, the board walk produced 6 more Mugimaki, a Dark-sided Flycatcher and 3 Rufous-tailed Robin, along with more Tristram's Buntings and several Eurasian Nuthatch.
The best was, however, again saved for last...At the Han-Imjin, 18 White-naped Crane and 100 Swan Goose were greatly appreciated, as were the large goose flocks (with probably 10 000 Beans logged), containing 4+ Lesser White-fronted Goose. Best surprise came shortly before dusk...TB picked up a couple of low-flying falcons, which then joined a larger, higher kettle: all were Amur Falcon! At least 96 were counted in this single flock (which also attracted 4 late White-throated Needletails), including probably 10 or so adult males: this is easily the largest flock of Amurs known to Birds Korea nationwide...
Seosan-Teoksan-Namhansan, October 10
Two hours in the early morning at Seosan Lake A again produced enormous numbers of waterbirds, with most intriguing being one piebald Bean Goose, and a juvenile Snow Goose-like bird, considered possibly a hybrid Snow X White-fronted. In addition, 2 Ruddy Shelduck added to the mid-autumn feel.
At Teoksan, excellent views of Yellow-throated Bunting, Daurian Redstart, Varied Tit and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, while a presumed Forest Wagtail was glimpsed in flight.
Namhansan sadly failed to produce the regular Brown Dipper (despite much effort) though some compensation was provided by an extremely obliging Tristram's Bunting found by RT.
Bulamsan, Nowon, Northeast Seoul, October 10
A morning trip in beautifully cool, clear weather to the mountainside and flat, weedy area at Bulamsan yielded Greater Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, 1 Yellow-browed and 2 Yellow-throated Buntings, and 1 Arctic Warbler.
Star bird was a Brown Shrike, seen (and heard) making acrobatic forays from an exposed perch to chase dragonflies.
A return trip in the evening failed to locate the shrike, but Olive backed and 1 Richard's Pipit made appearances along with an inquisitive gang of Long-tailed Tits.
Eulsukdo, Busan, October 9
1 Chinese Little Bittern
Shihwa, October 9
Shihwa reclamation lake held very little today: a few Vega Gulls, Spot-billed Ducks and 3 Great Cormorant. The inflowing stream however produced several Teal, a Green Sandpiper, Grey and lugens White Wagtails, Common Kingfisher and a Common Buzzard overhead.
The real find was an oasis of evergreens in Shihwa park, where a brilliant gold-barred Pallas' Leaf Warbler was quickly followed by a sprinkling of migrants: Arctic and Yellow-browed Warblers, and an Asian Brown and a well-watched Mugimaki Flycatcher in the clearing.
Geum Tidal Flats and the Kunsan Industrial Zone, October 9
The first Eurasian Wigeons of the fall migration were seen at the Geum. A pair of Ospreys was seen there also. A few Black-faced Buntings were in the reeds. Out in the industrial area of Gunsan a pair of Peregrine Falcons was seen: one was working on the remains of a Spot-billed Duck. It was not clear if it was carrion or a kill. In a pond due to be reclaimed soon a few Pacific Golden Plover were seen. In the canals Redshank and Marsh Sandpipers were feeding. A few Heuglin's Gulls, seen in a couple of areas were the first noted this fall.
Geum River, October 8
An exposed piece of mud on the freshwater side of the dam had a variety of birds. A personal first female Greater Scaup. Overhead a single Greater White-fronted Goose was the first I've seen since spring. A few Pintail were also the season's first.
Eocheong Island am - Seosan Lake A pm, October 9
A low of 10C overnight, with clear conditions and only light winds. Much improved numbers of migrants on and over Eocheong included constant groups of westward-moving Olive-backed Pipit (at least 500 logged during the morning), while other grounded migrants included 2 Baillon's Crake, a Red-throated Flycatcher, the first Pallas's Leaf Warbler of the autumn (NM), 20 Brambling, 5 Tristram's and probably 75 Black-faced Buntings.
The ferry crossing back to the mainland was uneventful (bar 6 Streaked Shearwater and only 3 Finless Porpoise), while the best was saved for last. Arriving at Lake A at around 5 PM, in perfect still and clear conditions, we were treated to a tremendous waterbird spectacle: a conservatively estimated 150 000 Baikal Teal perfoming their eveing ballet while at least 50 000 (and possibly twice as many!) Bean Geese streamed towards the lake from the rice-fields. In amongst the enormous numbers of birds, at least one Lesser White-front and one juvenile Snow Goose were picked up, while a nightime search for Amur Leopard Cat instead produced sightings of at least 3 Raccoon Dog.
Eocheong Island, October 8
Winds finally swung northwesterly, strengthening to a Beaufort 4-5, producing some increased movement of migrants, with 3 White-throated Needletails and 3 late Pacific Swifts and 92 individuals of 13 species of raptor logged. These included 20 Grey-faced Buzzard, 15 Common Buzzard, 15 Northern Sparrowhawk, 10 Crested Honey Buzzard, 5 Northern Goshawk, 3 Black Kite and single Pied Harrier (NM and TB) and Amur Falcon (TB). Grounded migrants included a late Hoopoe and a very well-watched (and still somewhat controversial!) Swinhoe's Snipe, 6 Lanceolated and 1-2 Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers, and 7 species of bunting.
Eocheong Island, October 7
Occasionally heavy rain, with light northerly winds and temperatures rising to only 18C (down from ca 25C on the 6th). Around 64 species were logged, with most numerous being Olive-backed Pipit (300+), alba wagtails (100+), and Chestnut Bunting (20).
Species of note included 2 Japanese Quail, a Falcated Duck on the reservoir, 1 Swinhoe's Snipe, a presumed Amur Falcon, 2 Eye-browed Thrush (TN), 30 Asian House Martin, 20 Chestnut-flanked White-eye and 4 Common Rosefinch, while bird of the day for most was a very obliging Lanceolated Warbler picking insects out of flower-heads at dusk, found by TN.
Gunsan-Jeonju-Eocheong Island, October 6
Warm and sunny conditions (before the first cold front of the autumn was forecast to cross the peninsula) and a late ferry to Eocheong meant we headed inland first to look for Long-billed Plover (4 seen excellently well) and Japanese Wagtail (3+), where the first small groups of Grey-faced Buzzard (9 in total) were also logged, along with 10+ White-throated Needletails.
The afternoon ferry across to Eocheong produced only 10 Streaked Shearwater while the island itself was very quiet, with only small numbers of buntings and a handful of Yellow-browed (10+) and fewer Arctic Warbler (2).
Daeheuksan Island (am)- Ferry- Dongjin and Mangyeung estuaries (pm), October 5
A day of contrasts, with ca 90 species logged. On Heuksan, an early morning search for the suspected rail of the 4th proved unsuccessful, with best there instead being excellent views of male Siberian Rubythroat (one of 6 logged) and a perched "Menzbieri" Pechora Pipit.
After a disappointing ferry crossing, a very high tide at the Dongjin pushed the shorebirds towards the seawall, before they flew across towards the Mangeyung. Highlights there included much better views 3 adult Spoon-billed Sandpiper and ca 100 Broad-billeds, while at the Mangyeung, 2 Nordmann's Greenshank were well-watched, as shorebird flocks swirled across an intensely orange evening sky...magical. Estimates of shorebirds included 1 000 Common Greenshank, 800 Great Knot, 1 000 Red-necked Stint, 5 000 Dunlin, 750 Mongolian Plover and 4 Greater Sand Plover.
Daeheuksan Island, October 4
Rain spots and heavy overcast did not help our search for Black Woodpigeon, but happily 4 birds in total were seen in flight, with a total of ca 7 heard crooning, Other species of note included a dark morph Pacific Reef Egret, 12 Siberian Rubythroat (most only heard), 12 Black-browed Reed Warbler, and a very well-watched Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler (one of 2 seen).
In addition, the Watercock was still present, along with the White-tailed Eagle, while the day also produced 10 Crested Honey Buzzard and single Japanese and Northern Sparrowhawks, as well as 8 Chestnut and 4 Yellow-throated Buntings. Most intriguing was a tiny, dark, stripey bird seen running through long grass next to a reed-fringed pool...although views were certainly inconclusive, they at least suggested the possibility of Swinhoe's Rail (a species unrecorded in Korea since 1930).
Mokpo-Daeheuksan Island, October 3
After strong North-westerlies overnight, a rather rough ferry trip across to Heuksan produced ca 15 Streaked and best one Flesh-footed Shearwater, as well as a flock of ca 8+ White-throated Needletail at Bigeum.
On Heuksan itself, plenty of birds in the first few hours, with species of note including a juvenile White-tailed Eagle, 5 Crested Honey Buzzard, a Watercock, 1 Chestnut-cheeked and 2 Daurian Starlings (the latter very scarce indeed in the southwest), 2 late Black-naped Oriole, 10 Richards, 15 Red-throated and 6 Pechora Pipit (including one perched), 25 Chinese Grosbeak, close-up Temminck's Stint and Grey-tailed Tattler (3), and a sprinkling of buntings (1 Chestnut-eared, 8 Little, 6 Yellow-browed, 3 Yellow-breasted, and a single Black-faced Bunting).
Following a rather quieter afternoon, late highlight was a very well-watched Shrenk's Bittern which landed on the path next to the hotel just before nightfall.
Songdo, October 3
Firsts for the Lagoon were 3 surprise Wigeon, 1 Green Sandpiper and a Jay. Also a Common Snipe, Grey and lugens White Wagtails, Little Grebes, Great Cormorants, and a new influx of Pochard, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, and 2 each of Gadwall and Tufted Ducks.
The now enclosed mudflat has become a temporarily productive brackish area, sprinkled with handfuls of Wood, Common, Marsh, Terek and ca.10 Broad-billed Sandpipers. Whimbrels, Eurasian and Far-Eastern Curlews were liberally scattered about, along with abundant Greenshank, 3 Spotted and 4 Common Redshanks, 2 Pacific Golden, ca. 40 Grey and 200+ Mongolian Plovers, and 107 "Eastern" Oystercatchers. 100+ Black-tailed Godwits are a high count for here, also ca.15 Bar-tailed Godwits, ca.300 Dunlin, and a mixed flock of 600+ Great and Red Knot, and plentiful Red-necked Stints.
Up to 20 Saunders's Gulls were complimented by a few recently arrived Black-headed, Mongolian and Vega Gulls. Also many Great, Intermediate, Little, and 1 Chinese Egret still.
A Common Kingfisher was certainly unexpected, but nothing compared to an outstanding 42 Black-faced Spoonbills or the 2 Black-winged Stilts found scouring the mudflat.
Geum Tidal Flats and Gunsan Industrial Zone, October 3
A single Osprey was perched at the Geum Tidal Flats. A personal first (for the fall) Rustic Bunting skulked along with Black-browed Reed Warblers in the reeds. In the Industrial zone, a canal had a variety of shore birds including one Redshank, several Green, a single Wood and a dozen or so Marsh Sandpipers. At the end of my birding day I paused by a rice field drainage ditch and flushed a Striated Heron.
Geum Tidal Flats, Mangyeong Estuary at Hwoe-hyun, October 2
Black-browed Reed Warblers were among the reeds beside the Geum Tidal Flats. Just a single Bar-tailed Godwit was noted by PN today, but Black-tailed Godwits are still passing through in large groups of a hundred or so birds both at the Geum and at the Man-gyeong.
There also, a group of birders from KFEM drew our attention to a Nordmann's Greenshank and a small group of Pacific Golden Plovers. We also observed a single Ruff.
Seochong Island, October 3
Today was a bit clearer in the morning, with less wind, so easier to hear warbler calls. Lighthouse: 92 Yellow-browed Warbler (!), 9 Arctic Warbler, 1 Two-barred Greenish Warbler, 7 Dusky Warbler, 2 Radde's Warbler, 2 Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Gray's Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Thick-billed Warbler, 1 Black-browed Reed Warbler, 3 Asian Stubtail, 1 Goldcrest, 5 Taiga Flycatcher, just 2 Asian Brown Flycatcher, 1 Siberian Blue Robin, 7 Swinhoe's Robin, 22 Siberian Rubythroat, 6 Grey-backed Thrush, 1 Siberian Thrush, 1 Dusky Thrush, 6 Red-rumped Swallow, 2 Eurasian Sand Martin, 3 Common Rosefinch, 2 Yellow-breasted Bunting, 27 Black-faced Bunting, 10 Chestnut Bunting and a Little Bunting. Also 70 Chestnut-flanked White-eye including a bird with no chestnut at all on the flanks, which I don't think was Japanese...
Seochong Island, October 2
Today was great with a foggy night and morning and clear day with strong NE winds. The lighthouse scrub was particularly good today, even in the wind. 270 Olive-backed Pipit, 200 Barn Swallow, 230 Red-rumped Swallow, 100 Emberiza sp. (mostly Chestnut and Black-faced), 19 Richard's Pipit, 60 White Wagtail, 7 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Russet Sparrow, 5 Common Rosefinch (inc a male), 1 Black-naped Oriole, 1 Oriental Cuckoo, 1 Amur Falcon, 1 Chinese Pond Heron, 11 Siberian Rubythroat, 1 Swinhoe's Robin, 1 Daurian Redstart, 1 Eye-browed Thrush, 1 Pale Thrush, 8 Siberian Thrush, 3 Scaly Thrush, 4 Grey-backed Thrush, 2 Dusky Warbler, 24 Yellow-browed Warbler, just 6 Arctic Warbler, 1 Two-barred Greenish Warbler, 2 Mugimaki Flycatcher, 6 Sooty Flycatcher, 6 Asian Brown Flycatcher, 3 Taiga Flycatcher, 1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Greenshank, 6 White-cheeked Starling, 1 Japanese Quail, 1 Little Bunting, 2 Yellow-breasted Bunting, 1 Oriental Scops Owl, 1 Thick-billed Warbler, 1 Wryneck, 4-5 Ashy Minivet, 2 Brown Shrike, 1 "Menzbier's" Pechora Pipit and 1 Yellow-legged Buttonquail.
A feature of the last two nights at dusk is the migration of Black-Crowned Night Heron, Egretta sp, Grey Heron and Yellow Bittern over the main village. The latter have been quite numerous: 5 over in 1 hour on the 30th Sept and about 12 over in one hour October 1st.
Gunsan-Geum River-Dongjin Estuary Saemangeum, October 2
ca 78 species logged in total in largely overcast conditions (brightening PM) and with intermediate tides. In the early morning in woodland at Naun-Dong, Gunsan, a very late Black-capped Kingfisher was heard, while 2 Northern Boobook were glimpsed by all in the group.
On the Geum, 3 Baikal Teal, 12 Eastern Oystercatcher, a single Saunders's Gull and a selection of large white-headed gulls (Mongolian, Vegaand taimyrensis). Although much mud remained at high tide on the Dongjin, distant views were achieved of at least 3 Spoon-billed Sandpiper, with other shorebirds noted there including 7 000 Great Knot, 2 500 Dunlin, 1 200 Kentish Plover, 600 Grey and 200 Mongolian Plovers, 200 Red-necked Stint, 21 Eastern Oystercatcher, 10 Broad-billed Sandpiper and a single Oriental Pratincole. In addition, a near-breeding plumaged Whiskered Tern flew past, while 7 Crested Honey Buzzard were noted overhead.
Seosan Lake A and B, October 1
After rain in the morning, gradually impoving weather conditions allowed ca 74 species to be logged for the day. Highlights at the "Dotterel field" included the Eurasian Dotterel still, 2 or more Lesser White-fronted Goose (including a well-watched sub-adult - one of 4 Lesser White-fronts seen during the day), and a highly vocal Chinese Grey Shrike. On Lake A now 20 000 Baikal Teal and 5 000 Bean Goose, 4 Oriental Pratincole and an early Northern Bittern past, as well as a single juvenile White-winged Tern.
In addition, a reed-fringed canal there held a Common Rosefinch and at least 5 Yellow-breasted Bunting, while a White's Thrush was most unexpected flying across open rice-fields. Towards evening, searching for a Pied Harrier seen there by Kim Hyun-tae on September 29th, some wet rice-fields at Lake B contained instead 1-2 Long-toed Stint, a Temminck's Stint, and a Ruff.