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Birds Korea's Bird News February 2010


Cold winters mean both temperatures and birding are similar to January, while increasingly frequent mild winters are marked by brief spells of rain or sleet, often followed by warmer sunshine, with maximum temperatures rising to 15°C or more in the southeast.

Many wildfowl are on the move by mid-month: Tundra Beans, Greater White-fronted and usually Swan Geese can be found at the Han-Imjin. Most Baikal Teal start to depart and by month’s end can become difficult to find in southern locations. Rooks and Daurian Jackdaws begin to move back into the Nakdong valley and near Gunsan. February sees the start of crane migration, with Hooded and White-napeds moving into South Korea from Japan.  The now very scarce Relict and the rather more widespread Saunders’s Gull peak at several tidal-flat sites. At the end of the month the first spring migrants, such as Far Eastern Curlews, Hoopoes and Japanese Lesser Sparrowhawks start to arrive.

February highlights in recent years have included records of Baer’s Pochard, Steppe Eagle, Least Auklet, Snow Bunting, and Common Redpoll.

Outstanding national rarities in February include the second record of Green-winged Teal in 2008, and the second Arctic Redpoll, on Heuksan Island in 2009. Recent Korean firsts in February include Thick-billed Murre in 2006 and Himalayan Vulture in 2007.

(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 Rich Lindie and Hayley Wood
East Coast Hwajinpo to Pohang, February 28

We set out to the coast to try and photograph Rhinoceros Auklet and Harlequin Duck. We soon found Harlequin Duck near the Geojin harbor, but poor weather prevented any good pictures and we decided to head further South. Before doing so, we made our way to the Hwajinpo Lake, where we saw no less than 7 White-tailed Eagle on the ice. Not long after the weather improved we found some obliging Rhinoceros Auklet. Loon, Duck and Grebe numbers were good but alcid movement was only really evident (from the shore) South of Uljin and especially around Jangho harbor.

Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata, Photo © Rich Lindie

Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus, Photo © Rich Lindie

Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus, Photo © Rich Lindie

Bird News from Dominic Le Croissette, Heather Henrichs, Miles Wheeler and Sylvia Smith
Cheorwon, February 28

30 Daurian Jackdaws were among at least 200 Rooks in a field right next to route 3, about 20km before Cheorwon. In the Cheorwon area the target species of Red-crowned Crane was quickly found, with a total of about 25 encountered during the day. Also seen in the area were c.150 White-naped Cranes, many Cinereous Vultures, and a single White-tailed Eagle and a handful of Tundra Bean Geese and Whooper Swans at a mostly frozen lake near Dongsong. Passerines were rather thin on the ground despite the mild weather conditions, with a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker the only obvious sign of spring. However, Hawfinches and Rustic Buntings were quite numerous with at least 30 of each seen, while there were two Bramblings (including a splendid male) near the lake at Dongsong.

Bird News from Joseph Bieksza
Dobongsan, February 28

It was all to quiet (bird wise) up and down the mountain. Heavy overcast skies did not help matters either but it was nice to hear the rushing waters drown out avid hikers and smokers. Fortunately, I was able to see the following: 6 Oriental Turtle Dove, 1 Coal Tit, 8 Marsh Tit, 6 Great Tit, 8 Carrion Crow, 12 Rustic Bunting, 1 Eurasian Jay, 2 Ring-Necked Pheasant, and 2 Korean Red Squirrel (very busily preparing nesting materials).

Coal Tit Periparus ater, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Korean Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris coreae, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Bird News from Dominic Le Croissette, Heather Henrichs, Miles Wheeler and Sylvia Smith
Seosan, February 27

Our very first "stop and scan" across ricefields to the east of Lake A produced 2 Oriental White Storks, later these were joined by 3 more and showed rather well. 10 Eurasian Spoonbills were also seen. Most of the rest of the day was spent in an unsuccessful search for Relict Gull in steadily worsening weather conditions, mainly around Namdang-ri where one was recently reported. From the latter site the highlights were 53 Saunders Gulls (some already in full summer plumage), 10 Kentish Plovers among a high tide roost of about 500 Dunlin, 4 Far Eastern Oystercatchers, and, offshore, c.10 Black-necked Grebes and numerous Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes including displaying birds.

Bird News from Joseph Bieksza
Okksu, February 26

It was a nice spring-like day at Okksu. On the 'weak' side, I did manage to see: 1 Great Creasted Grebe, 4 Little Grebe, 4 Grey Heron, 1 Common Buzzard, 6 Mandarin Duck, 8 Great Cormorant, 16 Northern Shoveler, 2 Meadow Bunting, 4 White Wagtail, 40 Gadwall, 24 Common Pochard, 40 Eurasian Teal, & a mixed assortment of Mallard, Spot-Billed, and Herring Gull. Three highlights of the day were: 1 Falcated Duck, 36 Vinous-throated Parrotbill, & 400 Tufted Duck.

Gadwall Anas strepera, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Vinous-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis webbianus, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Bird News from Miles Wheeler and Sylvia Smith (Report by Dominic Le Croissette)
Guryeongpo and Gyeongju areas, February 25 and 26

A lengthy and rain-lashed seawatch in onshore winds at Guryeongpo on 26th produced some interesting species, including 1 or 2 Long-billed Murrelet, c. 800 Ancient Murrelet, 6 Rhinoceros Auklet, c. 500 Arctic Loon, 2 Black-legged Kittiwake, and 2 early Common Terns past. Around Gyeongju on 25th, some good birds were seen despite the rain, including 8 Daurian Jackdaws among a flock of 1,000+ Rooks, a Merlin between here and Guryeongpo, and Grey-headed Woodpecker, 60+ Bramblings and 15 Hawfinches around Bulguksa and Seokguram.

Bird News from Miles Wheeler and Sylvia Smith (Report by Dominic Le Croissette)
Suncheon Bay, February 24

Another warm and springlike day. In the fields at Suncheon Bay, one Common Crane was with about 110 Hooded Cranes. In the reeds, numerous buntings were present including over 50 Pallas's Reed Buntings, 2+ Common Reed Buntings, and a single Ochre-rumped Bunting seen briefly. Raptors in the area included single Peregrine, Northern Goshawk and ringtail Hen Harrier.

Bird News from Robin Newlin
Gwangneung National Arboretum, February 24

A morning and part of the afternoon at the Arboretum: clear and warm at the outset with increasing clouds later on. Highlights were one or possibly two Black Woodpeckers (first heard then seen a kilometer down the road; later seen then heard near the park entrance), a White-backed Woodpecker, about 9 Bullfinches in two groups, a single Hawfinch, 2 Naumann’s Thrushes, 4 Cinereous Vultures, 2 Eastern Buzzards, a few Yellow-throated Buntings and the resident Marsh, Great, Long-tailed and Varied Tits.

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Photo © Robin Newlin

Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius, Photo © Robin Newlin

Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Photo © Robin Newlin

Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Photo © Robin Newlin

Naumann's Thrush Turdus naumanni, Photo © Robin Newlin

Bird News from Miles Wheeler and Sylvia Smith, with Dominic Le Croissette and Heather Henrichs
Junam Reservoir, February 23

An all day stint at Junam by MW and SS produced an excellent range of birds (DLC and HH were there during the morning only). The wintering adult Long-tailed Shrike showed well at the edge of the reedbed, a little further along from the observation tower. One Naumanns Thrush and two Dusky Thrushes were in the row of trees near the visitor centre. In the first bay, a Spotted Redshank provided an early taste of spring migration and was in keeping with the extremely pleasant spring weather (with temperatures as high as 18C during the afternoon). Most of the wintering species were still present, mostly appearing at the reservoir in the afternoon. These included about 80 White-naped Cranes, 8 Swan Geese still, a single Tundra Swan, and around 700 Baikal Teal arrived towards dusk. Single Northern Goshawk and ringtail Hen Harrier were seen. In the reedy ditch behind the observation tower, there was still an excellent selection of buntings, with patient observation producing a single Chestnut-eared Bunting still, about 8 Pallas's Reed Buntings, and 6 Little Buntings. A Japanese Quail was also seen here. Nearby, an Amur Leopard Cat again showed in reeds near the corner, just past the observation tower.

Bird News from Miles Wheeler and Sylvia Smith (Report by Dominic Le Croissette)
Nakdong Estuary and Dadapo, February 22

1 adult Steller's Sea Eagle showed well near the river mouth, and an Osprey was also present. About 15 Saunders Gulls were seen, and one small gull that showed an all dark underwing and was thought by the observer to be an adult winter Little Gull (observer has plenty of experience of this species) - unfortunately the bird moved further out into the estuary and was lost to view, and could not be refound later. Around Dadepo there were 3 Black Kites, and the woodland produced 2 Grey Buntings (a male and a female, the latter briefly showing very well), and a single Japanese Bush Warbler.

Bird News from Dominic Le Croissette, Miles Wheeler & Sylvia Smith
Daejin area, Geojin headland, Yangyang, February 21

Early morning around the January Pension produced a Yellow-billed Loon on the sea (MW only), a Naumanns Thrush, 2 Rustic Bunting, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. In nearby fields and gardens, a Hawfinch and a good range of mostly expected species like White-cheeked Starling, Azure-winged Magpie, Siberian Accentor, Grey-capped Greenfinch and Yellow-throated Bunting, but no sign of any Long-tailed Rosefinches.
A thorough search of the headland above Geojin Harbour (with Robin Newlin) again failed to produce any Chinese Nuthatches, nor any sign of yesterday's Pallas's Rosefinches. There were however 2 Eurasian Nuthatches (including a very crisply marked bird), a Dusky Thrush and a Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker.
Moving on to Yangyang, we observed an immature Steller's Sea Eagle in flight and later perched in trees overlooking the river. Two White-tailed Eagles and an Eastern Buzzard were also seen. An excellent bunting flock on a snow-free grassy bank included about 40 Pallas's Reed Buntings, 6 Common Reed Buntings, 2 Rustic Buntings and a single Little Bunting. Elsewhere in the area Meadow Bunting and Yellow-throated Bunting were also present, making a respectable total of 6 bunting species seen at the site.
Also here were 2 Long-billed Plovers, 3 Japanese Wagtails, a Hawfinch, 2 Arctic Loons near the river mouth, plus a few Goldeneye and Common Merganser.

Tim Edelsten & Robin Newlin
Dejin, February 21

Briefly in the morning, a Glaucous-winged Gull was in its annual spot in the harbor (T.E. only) and one or two Spectacled Guillemot were visible from the January Pension.
Also in the area, the usual small gatherings of Harlequin, Goldeneye, a Temminck's Cormorant, Great crested and Black-necked Grebe. A White-tailed Eagle was also seen near Hwajinpo on the return journey (RN only).

Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Glaucous-winged Gull Larus glaucescens, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Mathew Poll
Seogwipo area, Jeju island, February 21

It feels like summer in Seogwipo, with sunny skies and weather much milder than last year. Two regular Ospreys in the harbor circled and swooped, but never dove into the water. A Japanese Bush Warbler was heard singing its 'summer song' loudly, rather than the regular 'check-check-check' call I'm used to hearing in the winter. In the hills northwest of Seogwipo, a Northern Goshawk dueled with 2 Large-billed Crows, and held its own for a few minutes. It left in a hurry when reinforcements arrived in the form of another 6 crows, one of which was missing most of its tail feathers. Two massive Cinereous Vultures were spotted just outside Seogwipo.

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Photo © Mathew Poll

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis & Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos, Photo © Mathew Poll

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus, Photo © Mathew Poll

Bird News from Joseph Bieksza
Uiwang, February 21

It was a very interesting stint at Uiwang despite most of the lake still frozen over. In adjacent rice fields near the railroad museum, I encountered a stunning Northern Goshawk (with what appears to be remains of a Mallard in grasp), 16 Rustic Buntings, 1 Bullheaded Shrike, 6 Grey Starlings, 18 Eurasian Skylark, & 2 Red-billed Starling. At the southwest corner of the lake, there was a large portion of water not frozen. Along this stretch I joyfully found: 1 White wagtail, 6 Common Coot, 1 Common Pochard, 3 Common Merganser, 700+ Bean Goose, 100 Greater White-Fronted Goose, 10 Grey Heron, and 4 Little Grebe.

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Red-billed Starling Spodiopsar sericeus, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Tundra Bean Goose Anser serrirostris, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Bird News from Dominic Le Croissette, Miles Wheeler & Sylvia Smith
NE River then Geojin area, February 20

A cold, crisp morning at the NE River, where 3 Scaly-sided Mergansers were seen (a pair plus an additional female). A Brown Dipper and 3 Japanese Wagtails were around the small stream, and a Siberian Accentor occasionally gave good views as it crept among tangled vegetation at the edge of the main river.
We arrived in Geojin around midday, and a quick search of the headland above the harbour proved quite productive, with a pair of Pallas's Rosefinches seen. The female showed well in trees for a time, whereas the male was only seen in flight (twice). One Dusky Thrush was also seen, but there was no sign of any Chinese Nuthatches. An adult Glaucous-winged Gull was present on rocks below the headland.
An exciting boat trip in the afternoon as already mentioned in Tim Edelston's report. Highlights were Yellow-billed Loon (5), Spectacled Guillemot (3), Thick-billed Murre (2), Rhinoceros Auklet (2), and Black-legged Kittiwake (1). Other species seen from the boat and along the coast included Red-necked Grebe, White-winged and American Scoters, Harlequin, Arctic Loon, and Glaucous Gull.
Near Daejin, we observed the probable Caspian Gull, plus a Long-billed Plover on the beach.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Namhae Star Ferry to Gageo, February 20

For the Birds Korea Blueprint (and as part of research conducted for the great University of Newcastle, Australia) another run-out to Gageo, to count seabirds only. In wonderfully sunny and calm conditions, few birds seen along the transect. Species of note included one presumed Yellow-billed Loon, two Red-necked Grebe at Gageo (where also an Upland Buzzard still), three possible Long-billed Murrelet (though too far for a definite identification), and what appeared to be (though again very distant) a Pomarine Skua harassing a Black-tailed Gull. As in many areas this winter, again few Ancient Murrelet with a total of only 27 logged on the return journey.

Bird News from Tim Edelsten, Robin Newlin, Dominic Le Croisette, Miles Wheeler & Sylvia Smith
Geojin, February 20

In sunny and very calm conditions, a 3-hour boat trip from Geojin harbor proved rewarding with close views of no less than 5 Yellow-billed Loon- two of which were feeding in a close pair. Also noteworthy were exceptional views of 3 Spectacled Guillemot, 2 Brunnich's /Thick-billed Murre, 2 Rhinoceros Auklet and a group of at least 8 Black Brant. Otherwise more expected were typical east-coast seabirds such as White-winged Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-throated / Arctic Loon, Red-necked Grebe, several Glaucous Gull, a Black-legged Kittiwake, and abundant Pelagic Shag. Intriguingly, a total absence of Ancient Murrelet.
Further northwards at Dejin later we had views of a presumed Caspian Gull, with nearby one Long-billed Plover and the resident raft of American Scoter.
Earlier that morning, several Siberian Accentor, Little Bunting and an Eastern Buzzard were frequenting Daepo headland (T.E only).

Yellow-billed Loon Gavia adamsii, Photo © Robin Newlin

Yellow-billed Loon Gavia adamsii, Photo © Robin Newlin

Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo, Photo © Robin Newlin

Spectacled Guillemot Cepphus carbo, Photo © Robin Newlin

Brunnich's Murre Uria lomvia, Photo © Robin Newlin

Brunnich's Murre Uria lomvia, Photo © Robin Newlin

Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus, Photo © Robin Newlin

Presumed Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans, Photo © Robin Newlin

Presumed Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans, Photo © Robin Newlin

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Dr. Kim Seok-Yee
Mokpo Namhang Urban Wetland, February 18

During the daily count 27 Eastern Oystercatcher Korea's Natural Monument #326 were recorded – the highest number for this site.

Far Eastern Oystercatcher Haematopus osculans, Photo © Dr. Kim Seok-Yee

Bird News from Nial Moores
Marine Bridge Ferry and Socheong Island, February 17-19

In fairly calm though overcast conditions on 17th, the ferry journey out to Socheong was fairly uneventful, with best a distant flock of 100 or so presumed loons the highlight. Once on Socheong, light snow flurries started turning quickly to very heavy snow with strong winds, which again cleared to leave calm and sunny (and subzero) conditions on 18th. Species of note included an Upland Buzzard watching over the garbage tip (where rats are abundant), three White-tailed Eagle, a First-winter Yellow-billed Loon offshore (in a raft of 90+ Arctic and Pacific Loons), and now two Horned joined by a single Black-necked Grebe. There were also a few hints of very early spring with e.g. a few Naumann’s and one Dusky Thrush, and increased numbers of Pelagic Cormorant, the majority of which are already in full breeding plumage. The ferry journey back to Incheon was also fairly uneventful, with three Yellow-billed Loon (all rather distant) the obvious highlight, further confirming the importance of Korean waters for this globally scarce species.

Socheong Island, Photo © Nial Moores

Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius, Photo © Nial Moores

left: Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis, middle & right: Horned Grebe Podiceps auritus, Photo © Nial Moores

Naumann's Thrush Turdus naumanni, Photo © Nial Moores

Bird News from Mathew Poll
Jungmun, Jeju island, February 15

While walking around Jungmun with some friends, I was surprised to see a half dozen Barn Swallows doing slow and low laps around the harbor near a yacht pier. These are the earliest Barn Swallows I've seen in Korea. Brown-eared Bulbuls and Japanese White-eyes were busy gorging themselves on berries and flowers in the trees, oblivious to nearby foot traffic.

Brown-eared Bulbul Microscelis amaurotis, Photo © Mathew Poll

Brown-eared Bulbul Microscelis amaurotis, Photo © Mathew Poll

Bird News from Joseph Bieksza
Paldang, February 15

It was somewhat of a frustrating day here at Paldang. A majority of waterfowl remained midstream to the far reaches of the river. Interesting birds of note were 3 Stellar Sea Eagle (one of the three flew extremely high in the air, harassed by 3 Japanese Sparrow hawks) and 600+ Common Coot. Rest of the mediocre highlights are as follows: 10 Yellow throated Bunting, 25 Whooper Swan, 12 Bean Goose, and strong numbers of Mallard, Spot-Billed, Eurasian Teal, Common Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard & Common Merganser.

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Eurasian Teal Anas crecca, Photo © Joseph Bieksza

Bird News from Tim Edelsten & Dominic Le Croisette
Songdo February 15

At the lagoon a small island of reeds remains (the rest have been levelled to make way for a new road). Hunkered down within this patch, 30 + Chinese Penduline Tit, a Common Reed, 2 Black-faced & 2 Pallas's Reed Bunting. In nearby trees, a Hawfinch & Naummann's Thrush. Dabbling on the water, numbers of the regular wildfowl such as Common Pochard, Gadwall, Common Shelduck etc, as well as a first for this site-a Red-breasted Merganser. Unfortunately the entire former brackish area, until last winter a roost site for thousands of waders, has been bulldozed and filled in. On the final mudflat, a scattering of Grey Plover, 1 Eurasian Curlew and 100+ Saunders's Gull.

Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Tim Edelsten & Dominic Le Croisette
Shiwha February 14

Notable highlight were 3 Ochre-rumped Bunting foraging along the edge of the reeds, first alerted to by their very faint "sip" contact calls. Although somewhat wary they perched boldly on the reed stems,showing emerging warm breeding colors. Otherwise notable was a Chinese Grey Shrike, and on the water a flock of 1400 Greater Scaup: most unusual were 40-50 Red-breasted Merganser-never seen here previously to my knowledge. In my experience they tend to be quite uncommon anywhere on the west coast. At high tide, an Eastern Oystercatcher, 40-50 Grey Plover and couple small flocks of Dunlin appeared from over the barrage. Raptors comprised 7 White-tailed Eagle, 3 Hen Harrier, 2 Peregrine, and an Eastern Buzzard.

Ochre-rumped-Bunting Emberiza yessoensis, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Ochre-rumped-Bunting Emberiza yessoensis, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Bird News from Dominic Le Croissette
Junam Reservoir, February 9

A mild and murky morning at Junam. Several boats out on the reservoir meant that disturbance to the birds was high, with few birds around the spit (eg. no Cranes were seen). On the plus side, the boats had driven many of the ducks into the bay nearest the causeway, making them easier to see and count. 197 Smew were counted, among them were many Pintail, Pochard, Mallard and Common Teal, a handful of Tufted Duck, 7 Baikal Teal and 5 Eurasian Shelduck. Whooper Swan numbers are building again, with over one hundred present in the bay and on nearby rice fields and ponds. 26 Eurasian Spoonbills and 2 Black-crowned Night Herons were among a good showing of common heron species.

However the highlight was an excellent mixed flock of buntings and Tree Sparrows feeding in rank vegetation and reeds at the edge of the large rice field just behind the second observation tower. Best of all was a winter male Chestnut-eared Bunting, which was associating with about 6 Little Buntings, 4-5 Pallas's Reed Buntings and, surprisingly, just a single Yellow-throated Bunting.

Bird News from Dave and Christine Holman and Nial Moores
Hwaum Sa, “South River”, Joonam, February 8

Mild and wet, with a heavy overcast and temperatures reaching +8 C or + 9C at Joonam. Another good day in the field, despite the occasionally heavy rain, with c6 Hill Pigeon at Hwaum Sa, a “new” site for Scaly-sided Merganser found (with seven along a few kilometres of river that is apparently not yet threatened in the immediate future by road-building or construction), and a good range of birds at Joonam. These included 10 Hooded Crane still, probably more than 150 White-naped Crane, a Eurasian Bittern feeding out in the open (seen taking and swallowing a large fish), 30+ Dusky Thrush, and a Light-vented Bulbul, heard but not seen (perhaps the first inland record of this increasingly-recorded species?).

Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Photo © Nial Moores

Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Photo © Nial Moores

Bird News from Dave and Christine Holman and Nial Moores
Seosan-Geum & Janghang, February 7

-9C at dawn, warming quickly in clear and sunny conditions, before becoming mild and overcast with a high of 9C. At Seosan, a Rough-legged Buzzard, a couple of Northern Goshawk, and probably close to 20,000 Greater White-fronted Goose started an excellent day in the field, being followed by an adult barabensis Steppe Gull (in a mixed group with several vegae, taimyrensis and mongolicus, and another barabensis/cachinnans type) which looked extremely similar (though older) than one seen in the identical location in March 2005 (see Fig 1., Also there, a flock of 105 Saunders’s and even less expected a First-winter Relict Gull, showing excellently as it fed (highly atypically) at times with a flock of Black-headed Gull on fish-restaurant waste-water, as well as more typically along the tide-line, alongside Dunlin and 10+ Far Eastern Oystercatcher. Moving back along the rice-fields, the next highlight was a group of seven Oriental Stork, watched safely at a distance before they were flushed by a farm-vehicle. In the afternoon at the Geum Estuary, no sign of the Swan Goose flock, but a widening search of several alternative sites eventually turned up a flock of 70 feeding (again rather atypically) in rice-fields. This spectacular day then came to a spectacular close with c270,000 Baikal Teal lifting off the Geum River to feed… “Magic”.

Steppe Gull Larus heuglini barabensis, Photo © Nial Moores

Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus, Photo © Nial Moores

Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus, Photo © Nial Moores

Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus (front) & 2 Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus (rear), Photo © Nial Moores

Bird News from Tim Edelsten
Dadepo, February 7

Strolling through dark leafy corners of the headland today found a Japanese Bush Warbler, 2 Japanese White-eye, 2 Pale Thrush, a Goldcrest, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Red-flanked Bluetail among the commoner species. Also several Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris coreae and up to 25 Black Kite circling over the general area.
Unfortunately an area along the edges of the Nakdong rivermouth is being carved up by construction vehicles, so I did not linger: although a brief glimpse revealed a Western Osprey winging away with a large fish.
In Dadapo port little of note- e.g. several Black-headed and a Taimyr Gull.
Near Asan, a flock of c.40 Daurian Jackdaw was seen from the train.

Black Kite Milvus migrans, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris coreae, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Taimyr Gull Larus heuglini taimyrensis, Photo ©

Bird News from Dominic Le Croissette
Junam Reservoir, February 2, 6 and 7

A total of about 6 hours spend in the field at Junam over the three dates. The outstanding highlight for me was finally connecting with the wintering Lesser White-fronted Goose, which was with a small group of 50 or so Greater White-fronts in rice stubble and showed at fairly close range in excellent light. It was my first experience with this species, and it was very satisfying as I found the bird to be much more distinctive than I had imagined it would be, not just in terms of size, structure and plumage details, but also in it's quite different "jizz" when feeding. However, despite the reasonably favourable viewing conditions, my comically amateur efforts to take a photo of it using my cheap hand-held "point and shoot" camera unfortunately failed!
Just one Swan Goose remains from the 8 present earlier in the winter, it was feeding alone in rice stubble near the Junam 3rd Pumping Station. Other interesting wildfowl included one Ruddy Shelduck, just 2 Baikal Teal, a nice flock of 30 Falcated Duck at the northern end of the reservoir plus ones and twos elsewhere, a drake Goldeneye and at least 150 Smew.
A Red-throated Loon was an unexpected find near the Junam 3rd Pumping Station. 9 Eurasian Spoonbills were counted. 10 Hooded Cranes, presumably the same birds I first saw on January 31, now seem settled at the reservoir. 100+ White-naped Cranes are also present.
A fair selection of raptors was seen during the three visits, including a Cinereous Vulture, one or two Peregrines, a Northern Goshawk, several Eastern Buzzards and Eurasian Sparrowhawks, and the regular White-tailed Eagle duo (an adult and a juvenile).
Passerine highlights included a Dusky Thrush and two Naumann's Thrushes in orchards along the reservoir's southern edge, a splendid Rustic Bunting, and a small flock of half a dozen Meadow Buntings near the Junam 3rd Pumping Station.

Bird News from Dave and Christine Holman and Nial Moores
Yangyang, February 6

A half-day at the river in Yangyang in continuing clear and calm conditions, with a low of -5C and a high of 3 or 4 C. Highlights included stunning flight views of an immature Steller’s and three White-tailed Eagles, a Chinese Grey Shrike, probably four Long-billed Plover and four Long-tailed Rosefinch, “several” Meadow and Pallas’s Reed Buntings, and an orchard with probably 100 Dusky and Naumann’s Thrushes, with the additional bonus of one adult male and one presumed First-winter Red-throated Thrush. En route to Seoul, a further highlight came in the form of six White-naped Crane heading north over the expressway: the beginning of spring!

Bird News from Dave and Christine Holman and Nial Moores
Gangwon NE Coast, February 5

Cold but clear, with temperatures rising from a “refreshing” -5C at dawn to a “sultry” high of 1C or even 2C. Birding around Daejin and Geojin, very few alcids offshore, though these included in total probably eight or so Spectacled Guillemot, four or five Ancient Murrelet and three Long-billed Murrelet (last, NM only). Other species of note (beyond the regular Harelquins and American Scoter [ c 100 in total of latter]) included a single adult Glaucous-winged Gull, a Caspian type Gull (very likely the same individual as seen last winter in exactly the same area), a flyby Long-tailed Duck, a few Naumann’s and probably three Dusky Thrushes, and two or possibly three Chinese Nuthatch.

American Scoter Melanitta americana, Photo © Nial Moores

Chinese Nuthatch Sitta villosa, Photo © Nial Moores

Bird News from Dave and Christine Holman and Nial Moores
National Arborteum-Han River Seoul-NE River, February 4

At the arboretum, an icy dawn (-13C) made enjoyable by prolonged views of a feeding Solitary Snipe, with the other highlight there a Black Woodpecker heard. From there to the Han River near Paldang, where (at last!) first one then two stunning adult Steller’s Sea Eagle, along with a single White-tailed, and a small flock of Taiga Bean Goose. In an extremely bitter-sweet afternoon, time spent searching the NE River. The obvious lowlight came with seeing markers being laid for a road-widening scheme which will take out 2.6 km of the river bank, likely making the site unavailable to Scaly-sided Merganser. Like so many other key habitats, this area will also soon be degraded (or destroyed), either as part of the 4 Rivers Project or by some other hastily-decided plan. This terrible news was however made a little more bearable by the sight of two male and two female Scaly-sided Merganser (all very wary, even at more than 150m range), and the exceptional generosity of a local hotel owner, who (on learning more about Birds Korea), donated two cameras, as well as making us well-needed coffee!

Steller's Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus, Photo © Nial Moores

Male (left) and female (right) Steller's Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus, Photo © Nial Moores

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla right and Steller's Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus left, Photo © Nial Moores

Bird News from Mathew Poll
Seogwipo, Jeju island, February 4

A sunny and crisp day in Seogwipo. Two Striated Herons remain on their respective streams, and about 10 Pale Thrush were seen or heard, as well as 2 Meadow Bunting. A tiny Winter Wren scuttled across rocks in a riverside park (a personal first for Jeju). It's call was similar to a Japanese Bush Warbler, but 'wetter'.

Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes, Photo © Mathew Poll

Bird News from Dominic Le Croissette
Changwon, February 4

There were plenty of birds to be seen during a short walk in the forest behind Changwon University, on the outskirts of Changwon city. Highlight was undoubtedly a female White-backed Woodpecker that gave excellent and prolonged views near the second bridge. It was noisily and energetically attacking a large tree branch, and seemed unconcerned by hikers passing almost directly underneath it. In the same area, a pair of Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers and a male Red-flanked Bluetail also showed. Elsewhere along the trail, at least 6 Pale Thrushes were easy to locate by sound as they turned over dead leaves in their search for food. Varied Tits proved to be common and easy to find almost anywhere along the trail, and 2 Japanese White-eyes were seen. Other common species seen included Yellow-throated Bunting, Eastern Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Brown-eared Bulbul and Daurian Redstart.

Bird News from Dave and Christine Holman and Nial Moores
Cheorwon, February 3

A cold, clear and calm dawn (with a low of -15C) became bitterly cold as the wind strengthened. Highlights during the morning included 4 Pallas’s Rosefinch, three Siberian Accentor, and several groups of Red-crowned and rather fewer White-naped Cranes, one with a white leg-band engraved 249. Other species of note there included single Chinese Grey Shrike, a 2cy male Baikal Teal, and 60 or 70 Cinereous Vulture (most at or near to the wonderful Cholsei Ponnun Chip), with the additional highlight an immature/sub-adult Golden Eagle. During the afternoon, an unsuccessful trip to the Han River at Paldang for Steller’s, followed by the decision to return to the arboretum - where two Solitary Snipe could be seen in the fading late evening light.

Bird News from Dave and Christine Holman and Nial Moores
National Arboretum, February 2

In sub-zero temperatures, an afternoon spent at the arboretum where now a dozen Pallas’s Rosefinch (and almost the same number of birdwatchers and photographers - one of whom was exceptionally loud…), in addition to two female Eurasian Bullfinch, and one Grey-capped, one White-backed and two Black Woodpeckers. Searching (unsuccessfully!), for Solitary Snipe instead produced a Brown Dipper as a rather modest highlight.

Pallas's Rosefinch Carpodacus roseus, Photo © Nial Moores

Bird News from Jang Byoungsoon
Namyang, February 1

I saw about 360 Saunder's Gulls including two banded ones and one Relict Gull.

Saunders's Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi, Photo © Jang Byoungsoon

Saunders's Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi, Photo © Jang Byoungsoon