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Birds Korea's Bird News July 2008


Hot (typically above 25°C, sometimes reaching 30°C) and humid, with occasional storms and heavy rains associated with southern-tracking typhoons.

Young Japanese and White(-faced) Wagtails can be found begging food on streams and rivers in the southeast. Juvenile Chinese Egrets and Eastern Oystercatchers are on north-west tidal-flats, in some areas feeding alongside summering Saunders's and Mongolian Gulls. Chinese Sparrowhawks are on telegraph poles in rice-fields throughout the country. Black-naped Orioles, Vinous-throated Parrotbills and parties of tits, are found in almost all woodland areas. By the end of July the first returning shorebirds arrive, with large numbers of Far Eastern and Eurasian Curlews at Ganghwa and the Geum estuary.

(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
Songdo, July 28

Newly-arrived migrants today included a good scattering of Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, and Far Eastern Curlew on the mudflat.

On the brackish area, an extremely early lone male Common Pochard, and voraciously feeding flocks of 28 Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Common Redshank, (both still in distinctive breeding plumage).

Songdo Mudflat, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Aham-do, July 26

At Aham-do, fresh construction has sealed off the rocky incoming stream and brackish area (formerly favoured by Relict Gull & Chinese Egret). Dredging boats appear to be in the process of scooping out the mudflat to form a shallow lake, so it may be that this small area of mudflat will be totally gone soon.

Despite the continuous monsoon downpour, autumnal waders have clearly arrived- 110 Common Greenshank, c. 40 Grey Plover, 30 Mongolian Plover, 5 Terek Sandpiper, 3 Ruddy Turnstone, 2 Kentish Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Red-necked Stint and 1 Grey-tailed Tattler.

Little Terns are now busily feeding fledglings; also 1 Saunders's Gull moulting into winter plumage and a handful of Mongolian Gull. Otherwise the only photograhable birds were the usual Black-tailed Gulls.

Aham-do Reclaimed mudflat, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Juvenile Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris, Photo © Tim Edelsten

2nd year Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Uiwang, July 22

Best of another overcast but picturesque evening at the reservoir were good views of 4 and probably 5 Yellow Bittern which seemed very active and restless. At least 10 adult and 6 juvenile Coot were in view, with presumably more hiding in reed cover. The mother Coot gives quite odd, bursting "bsseup" contact calls to the chick.

Present were 2 Great Crested and 4 Little Grebe, A Dollarbird, Black-naped Oriole, Northern Hobby (unusually scarce this year?), Common Cuckoo, 2 Common Kingfishers, and of course the usual Oriental Reed Warblers and Spot-billed Ducks, etc.

I happened to surprise a Red-eared Slider Trachemys scripta waddling on the bank, which promptly retreated into his shell. This species seems quite common in ponds and reservoirs hereabouts.

Common-Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Red-eared Slider Trachemys scripta, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird news from Nial Moores
Igidae, Busan, July 20

An hour at Igidae in between rain showers (pulses moving up from ex-typhoon kalmaegi now moving into the Yellow Sea) was surprisingly good. Black-naped Oriole, several bush warbler (probably Japanese Bush) and Pale Thrush heard, as was a Grey-tailed Tattler out in the murk over the sea, with outstanding highlights being a very young juvenile Asian Brown Flycatcher (presumably a very early-returning migrant) and a singing male Black Paradise Flycatcher, seen excellently if a little briefly in the murky canopy.

Bird news from Dr. Kim Seok-Yee
Mokpo Namhang urban wetland, July 17

Most numerous species these days are the Black-tailed Gulls with 277 the day before and 145 this morning. 10 Grey Heron, 9 Little Egret, 2 Great Egret were seen. Shorebirds have started to return, seen were 3 Long-billed Plover, 10 Kentish Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 20 Common Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper.

Exciting for this place was the discovery of 13 Eastern Spot-billed Duck, 3 adults with 10 ducklings; unfortunately one adult with a broken wing.

Beside the always in small numbers found Eurasian Magpie, Brown-eared Bulbul, Oriental Turtle Dove, Grey-capped Greenfinch, Barn Swallow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, only 1 Oriental Reed Warbler of the before 6 could be noticed as well as 1 White Wagtail.

Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

Bird news from Thomas Falk
Ferry from Eocheong Island to Gunsan, July 15

I took the ferry at 12:30 from Eocheong Island to Gunsan the 15th July 2008. At the Island it was extremely foggy but on the sea it cleared up significantly. I guess temperatures were around 25 degrees.

Most remarkable watching was an Arctic Skua at approximately 14:30. The ferry briefly stops at a small island closer to the mainland and the skua was chasing Blacktailed Gulls in sight of this island. It was a dark phase bird and I could see it perfectly since it was very close to the boat. Unfortunately I don't have equipment to make pictures.

On the same trip I saw at least 30 Swinhoe's Storm Petrels. They have been either single birds or groups. The largest group was one of 8 birds, half of them in the water, half flying around. One Storm Petrel was very close to the first Gunsan mole.

Approximately half way on the trip three small waders flew over the boat. From the size, red neck and straight bill I believe they have been Red-necked Stints (but I'm not sure). I'm not sure either about a Streaked Shearwater which I think I have seen far away from the ferry.

Bird news from Barry Heinrich
Sokcho - Cheongcho Lagoon and Yangyang - Namdae Cheon, July 13

I visited Cheongcho Lagoon and Namdae Cheon on July 13 with Kim Seong-Mi.

There were not a lot of birds at Cheongcho Lagoon, some Black-tailed Gulls, Grey Herons, Spot-billed Ducks, a Great Egret and some Little Egrets. One of the Little Egrets was grey in colour. I believe it was the same bird I saw in June along Cheongcho Cheon. There were numerous Oriental Reed Warblers in the grass near the lagoon, including several juvenile birds.

Along Namdae Cheon we found a Grey-headed Bunting, a Zitting Cisticola, more Oriental Reed Warblers, Siberian Stonechats, Grey-capped Greenfinches, Oriental Turtle Doves, Vinous-throated Parrotbills, a Little Ringed Plover, Grey Herons and a Common Pheasant.

On the sand bar at the river mouth there were 130 Black-tailed Gulls, 30 Far Eastern Curlews, 18 Mongolian Sand Plovers, 13 Red-necked Stints, 12 Grey Herons, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 9 Dunlin, 3 Common Greenshanks, 3 Spot-billed Ducks and a Terek Sandpiper. All the waders were in summer plumage.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Photo © Barry Heinrich

Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis, Photo © Barry Heinrich

Mongolian Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus, Photo © Barry Heinrich

Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis, Photo © Barry Heinrich

Dunlin Dunlin, Photo © Barry Heinrich

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Songdo, July 13

Hot, humid and sunny with little of note birdwise due to the tide being far out. On the lagoon, a Common Moorhen, Little Grebe family and Oriental Reed Warblers tending young. The near-deserted Mongolian Gull colony now has only two unfledged chicks, the doting parents of which saw fit to fly 80 yards over to scream abuse at me.They didn't seem to mind however the 100+ Great Cormorants roosting all around them.

The local stream is sadly being concreted, although a small stretch, with habitat intact, remains unharmed as it enters the lagoon.

On the last mudflat, c120 Saunders Gull included at least some juveniles: also visible 5 Black-faced Spoonbill and 1 Chinese Egret. Waders are trickling back, with 70+ Common Greenshank within view, a Common Redshank, 5 Eastern Oystercatcher and 4 Common Sandpiper.

Songdo, Natural stream, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Songdo, Stream being developed, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Yongjeong Island, July 12

Humid, overcast and rainy.Yongjeong is a shocking picture of unbridled and reckless development projects, that have transformed the local environment here dramatically within the past 2 years. Virtually all natural waterways have been dyked, marshes drained and reservoirs concreted and "tidied" of all vegetation. Nevertheless the island is thankfully still encircled by untouched mudflat, where today were 3 Black-faced Spoonbill and 7 Chinese Egret.

At the Yongyudo saltpans ( a reliable wader magnet), early returning migrants included 2 Common Greenshank, 12 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Terek Sandpiper, 2 Red-necked Stint, and many Little Ringed Plovers. Also 2 Intermediate Egret ( a fairly uncommon summer visitor) and many Barn Swallows.

The formerly dark, reedy and well-wooded stream has recently (and predictably) been converted into a banked up channel: last summer this stretch held nesting Yellow-rumped Flycatchers and Common Kingfishers and could be relied upon for Long-tailed Rosefinches in winter. Today it was lifeless, although a lone female Common Kingfisher was loitering nearby, having apparently raised no family this year.

Yongyudo Salt Pans, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Former Stream, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Nial Moores and Jeon Shi-Jin
Nakdong Estuary, July 9

From discussion and video footage it is clear that on June 29th there were two Roseate Tern (Korea's first), at least 4 Whiskered Tern and perhaps as many as 30 or 35 Common Tern, including several minussensis (not recorded annually), together in one part of the outer Nakdong Estuary: an extraordinary combination of taxa.

A few hours out in the estuary today failed to find the Roseates, but did find one Common, one Whiskered and most surprising of all one distant adult Gull-billed Tern (less than 10 national records), along with probably 3000+ Little Tern (2000 adults were estimated here early in the summer, and it is seems that there has been decent breeding success this year).

Other species of note included a suprising number of early shorebirds, with 95 Eurasian and 5 Far Eastern Curlew, 3 Greater Sand Plover, 2 Terek Sandpiper, 5 Great Knot and probably 5 Sanderling, including one breeding-plumaged adult with an orange flag on the tarsus and yellow flag on the tibia of the right leg. Also of note were 2 juvenile Peregrine Falconand 2 Black Kite, one of which successfully chased down a recently fledged Little Tern.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, Photo © Nial Moores