Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Epic east coast pelagic trip - November 24-25th, 2012

Of course we hit a bird...

Going auking within sight of North Korea
Good to see the Birds Korea crew again
Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica
adult Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
first winter Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
Rhinoceros Auklet Cerorhinca monocerata
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Chinese Nuthatch Sitta villosa
Grey-capped Greenfinch Chloris sinica
Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella
Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides (wiegoldi subspecies)
  This past weekend I was lucky enough to take part in an epic pelagic trip on the east coast with fellow Birds Korea members. It was great to be with all the guys again, a motley crew to be sure! It was especially great to soak up the endless supply of bird wisdom that Dr. Nial Moores possesses. It's humbling to bird with such a master!
  It was a weekend filled with great birds, good company, and very little sleep. The trip got off to an inauspicious start as a passing truck hit a bird and it bounced off our van, leaving a gruesome blood stain down the side. Since it happened in the pre-dawn darkness, we were concerned it was perhaps a Ural Owl! Or perhaps a Crested Shelduck, hahaha.
 The boat trip from Daejin was a treat, and we got great long views of Ancient Murrelet and Rhinoceros Auklet. The Dr. spotted a mysterious, large dark shearwater-type bird, which put everyone on high alert. I snapped off some shots but unfortunately none came out due to the extreme far range and heaving boat. I won't even reveal what we speculated it could have been... 
  Our boat, which was close to the border with the North Korea and maneuvering erratically in search of birds (and packed with foreigners bristling with optics) quickly attracted the attentions of a coast guard cutter. It shadowed us for an hour, and was eventually joined by a navy destroyer. I wonder how many beeping weapons systems were trained on us as we gleefully took pictures of Rhinoceros Auklets?
  It was good to catch up with birds I don't get to see very often, like White-tailed Sea EagleSiberian Accentor, Long-tailed Rosefinch, and especially Chinese Nuthatch, which is having a major irruption in Korea this winter.
  Right, it's off to bed, I'm still exhausted.

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