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Birds Korea's Bird News June 2007


Often hot (temperatures up to 30°C inland) and humid, with very heavy rains some years by mid-month.

By early June, Yellow and the rare Schrenk's Bittern are breeding in reed-beds, and Watercock give their (slightly comical) gulping calls in the best rice-field areas. Nesting activity in Black-faced Spoonbill and Chinese Egret colonies reaches its peak, and forest nesters are still vocal, especially in the first half of the month. At Gwangneung, typical species include 4 species of woodpecker, Ruddy Kingfisher, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and Mandarin Duck, while on the south coast at Geoje Island Pale Thrush, Blue-and-white Flycatcher and Yellow-throated Bunting predominate. Black Woodpigeon nest on Gageo and other islands and Styann's Grasshopper Warbler are widespread on small islets: both species, plus the very local Russet Sparrow, can be seen well on Ulleung Do.

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

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Yeongjeong Island, June 19

Hot humid weather. Typical summer birds on the island included a Dollarbird, Black-naped Oriole, Hobby, Great Spotted Woodecker with both Long-tailed Tit & Little Ringed Plovers feeding young.

Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius Photo © Tim Edelsten

Some nice patches of wetland on the island although mostly encroached by development, yet still a Coot and a trilling Ruddy Crake. At high tide, 3 Chinese Egret tended their extravagant plumes on the foreshore.

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Seosan, June 17

8 hours on foot only in a limited section, were rewarded with a splendid male Watercock, followed by a second which ierged in the evening to feed (and call) in nearby ricefields- where also were 5 Black-winged Stilt. Local farmers commented that birds are noticeably fewer now than 5 years ago due to increased vehicle traffic. In addition, airplanes from the nearby airfield have taken to repeatedly flying extriely low over the area. Also plentiful Little Terns, a Common Kingfisher, 1 Peregrine, 2 Yellow Bittern, 1 eclipse Mandarin, 6 Little Ringed Plover, a (presumably oversummering?) Common Greenshank, 2 Far-Eastern Curlew, 4Zitting Cisticola and another good look at an Amur Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).

Amur Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Ulleung Island-Donghae, June 13

Some brief views of presumed dageletensis Great tit in the morning were followed by a Cattle Egret, and singing Short-tailed Bush Warbler. On the crossing, 78 Streaked Shearwater were counted from the ferry between precisely 6-7pm.

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Donghae-Ulleung Island, June 12

15 minutes only of seawatching revealed apparently abundant Shearwaters: 8 Streaked and 1 Short-tailed Shearwater- the latter identified by somewhat smaller size, slender pointy wings, all dark appearance, rapid bursts of wingbeats on stiffly-held wings followed by brief glide. On the island, Russett Sparrow were abundant and vocal, with a pair seen nestbuilding in a building crevice.

Russett Sparrow Passer rutilans left female, right male Photo © Tim Edelsten

Many Barn Swallows nesting in Dodong port, apparently sii-tame: some nests only 8ft off the ground with hordes of peop le walking right beside thi. Also numerous and singing were Oriental Greenfinch, Brown-eared Bulbul and Japanese Bush Warbler. Ring-necked Pheasant plentiful, including a group of 7 flushed together, likewise Oriental Turtle Dove in lowland, whereas Black/Japanese Woodpigeon was quite common on forested hill and mountain elevations, apparently feeding on berries. A (presumed) Styann's warbler was heard giving a whirring clicking alarm call from deep within bamboo thicket, riiniscent of the voice heard earlier on Eocheong. other birds included 2 Peregrine, 2 Hobby, 1 Great Egret, sev. Pacific Swift, a monotonous Little Cuckoo, Eurasian Cuckoo, many Blue Rock Thrush and a juvenile White Wagtail.

Black Woodpigeon Columba janthina Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Namhansanseong, June 8

From late afternoon to evening, a White-backed Woodpecker, Common Cuckoo, Hobby and Korean Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris coreae seen: heard singing was an Asian Stubtail & Siberian Blue Robin, a drumming Great-Spotted Woodpecker, and a nearby trilling Ruddy Kingfisher.Calling at dusk was an Indian Cuckoo and Brown Hawk Owl (continuous, high "woh,woh,woh").

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Uiwang, June 7

Since an environmental restoration project 3 years ago, the reservoir here has dramatically improved birdwise. Formerly concrete pit, now with extensive reedbed, and mercifully no boats or fishermen. A greater number and variety of birds this year than last, including 1 Schrenck's Bittern, 1 ( late?) Eurasian Spoonbill, 12 adult Great Crested Grebes plus 4 broods of young, 15 Common Coot + 3 broods, a mass gathering of 135+ Grey Heron, Mandarin (pair), 1 Black-faced Bunting, Common Kingfisher, 5 Common Moorhen, 11 Little Grebe and 2 juvenile White Wagtails already, amongst a good range of commoner birds.

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Gunsan - Eocheong Island, June 6

Pleske's warblers were in voice once again from deep within the bamboo thickets (although far more quiet and secretive than after their conspicuous showy arrival only a few days earlier.) Also a singing Black-Browed Reed Warbler, and 2 Streaked Shearwater on the crossing.

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Gunsan - Eocheong Island, June 5

Overcast and misty with few birds, (an abrupt, total lack of Pallas's Grasshopper warbler for example), although 2 Chinese Pond Heron, 1 Chinese & 1 Japanese Sparrowhawk, 1 Striated Heron (clumsily hiding in bamboo thicket) and a Yellow Bittern catching apparently plentiful fish and seafood in the harbour.

Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Gunsan - Eocheong Island, June 4

Good views of 8 Ancient Murrelet, 1 Streaked Shearwater and a close breeding plumaged Whiskered Tern on the sea crossing. Humid with a little mist by evening on the island: several Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler sheltered in ground cover, with 4 singing Lanceolated Warbler, 1 Little Cuckoo (flushed from v. low ground cover by day, calling from high perch in evening), 1 Asian Brown Flycatcher, 38 Cattle Egret, 2 Little Egret, 5 Red-rumped Swallow, 8 Pacific Swift, a Black-faced Bunting, c.30 Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, 1 Dollarbird, an Asian House Martin, 1 singing Arctic Warbler, and plentiful Japanese & Korean Bush Warblers.

Highlights were 3 Pleske's Warbler surprised on the edge of bamboo thicket, 1 giving excellent close views and later singing: 3 Middendorff's Warbler-1 seen skulking in low scrub at very close range (markedly solid orange legs, short rounded white-tipped tail), followed by another glimpsed in the same area later (rather warm russet rump and tail base), and another singing towards dusk in shrubbery near the tip: in the same vicinity a brief throaty, gruff "howhh...haugh" call sounded rather similar to online recordings of Ural Owl.