Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Historical post" - Jeju Island, January 2010

Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra (with Crocodilian Longtom Tylosurus crocodilus)
Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia & Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Western Great Egret Ardea alba, & Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus & Sanderling Calidris alba
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus
Bird News from Matt Poll with Youngho Kim, Eastern Coastal Jeju, January 30, 2010
  A fine day of birding, in spite of gray rainy weather and several missed birds. We started in Seogwipo, and made our way east around the whole eastern half of Jeju, finally arriving in Jeju City.   

  At Pyeoson, 30 Kentish Plovers mingled with a flock of over 100 Sanderling. On the southeast coast near Sinsan we searched for a Saunders's Gull that had recently been seen there. We thought we'd found it, but 2 small whitish gulls turned out to be Black-headed Gulls (one adult winter bird, and one with 1st winter plumage). They were interesting to watch, as they hovered and dive-bombed aerobatically. A Pacific Reef Heron beat a thrashing fish (it looked like a Crocodilian Longtom) into submission, before swallowing it whole. The fish continued to thrash around in the Heron's throat for a minute or two. A Horned Grebe and and a Common Goldeneye were also seen nearby. 
  At Seongsan, large numbers (200+) of Eurasian Wigeon and Spot-billed Ducks mingled with smaller groups of Coot and Northern Shoveler. Nine Greater White-fronted Geese, a Horned Grebe, and a Dusky Thrush (the first I've seen this winter) were also present at Seongsan. 
  Hado held more large numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, and smaller numbers of Tufted Duck, Gadwall, and Coot. Several Great Egrets, Grey Herons, and Little Egrets stood guard near 15 Black-faced Spoonbills, and two Eurasian Spoonbills. About 25 Bean Geese landed noisily nearby. Along the northeast coast, Red-breasted Mergansers were plentiful, with several dozen seen. 
  We spent about two hours vainly searching for a spectacular male Harlequin Duck that had been seen and photographed by a Korean birder near Sehwa that day. Near Sehwa and west towards Jeju City, we further saw two Common Shelducks, six Eurasian Teal, more Eurasian Wigeons, several Pintails, a Grey Plover, nine Dunlins, two Pacific Loons, three Black-throated Loons and a Carrion Crow. The crow was notable in that Large-billed Crows seem to predominate on Jeju, and this was the first Carrion Crow I've seen here.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata
Falcated Duck Anas falcata
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
 Seogwipo, Jeju island, January 24, 2010
  A sunny and crisp day in Seogwipo. Several Little Grebes and a shy male Falcated Duck joined two Red-throated Loons in the harbour. and two Ospreys circled high above. One of the loons had a bill that seemed quite pale for a Red-throated. In a nearby park, a regular Green Sandpiper was spotted on the river, while two Peregrine Falcons performed a noisy aerobatic foot-grasping display overhead.

Pelagic Cormorant Phalacrocorax pelagicus
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata
Gadwall Anas strepera
Gull assemblage
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
Seogwipo, Jeju island, January 19, 2010
  There seem to be many more Pale Thrush about in Seogwipo, when compared to the same time last year. At least eight were seen or heard in thick brush around town. In the harbour, two Red-throated Loons cavorted close to shore, in the company of plentiful Vega, Mongolian, and Black-tailed Gulls. One of the Black-tailed Gulls was not in good shape, struggling with both fishing line and oil. Eighteen Gadwall, winter harbour regulars, fed near a small man-made waterfall. Further down the coast, a Pelagic Cormorant was drifting close to some cliffs. Nine Great Crested Grebes were also seen nearby.

Leaning into the wind on the ferry to Chuja-do
View from Chuja-do
Ships sheltering from a squall, viewed from my apartment
Chuja-do, January 17, 2010 
 The ferry to Chuja is majestically named "Pink Dolphin". As we steamed out of the harbour, the Jeju City skyline was a jumbled mess, and was mercifully soon out of sight. There's a secret reason why it's always cloudy in Jeju City. While all the Koreans stayed inside and slept for the duration of the ferry ride (except the two kids that passed out on deck, knocked out by seasickness meds), we spent the trip up on deck. It was insanely windy. It was peak-of-Halla-san-wind-passing-across-your-nostrils-sucking-the-air-from-your-lungs windy. So windy that I invented a deliriously fun new sport I call 'wind-riding'. I'm by far the best wind-rider in all of Jeju. At one point I was leaning backwards into the wind, knees bent back 45 degrees like Keanu in The Matrix. I know Kung Fu. Weee it was super fun, but also crazy cold, and I got knocked around a lot. We passed a few mysterious uninhabited islets on the way, and one or two little islands boasting only a handful of houses. Rugged individualists I suppose.

(*Note: This is a “historical post.” Whereas I started birding in Korea in 2005, this blog has only been active since early 2012 - these posts are an attempt to consolidate my early birdventures from the various blogs and websites where they reside, largely from the “Archived Bird News“ section of Birds Korea’s excellent website: Find more historical posts by clicking on the "Historical posts" tab at the bottom of this post.
  For this post, most of images are lamentably poor-resolution screensaves, as many of the original photo files were lost in the infamous computer crash of 2011.)