Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Big weekend in Seoul

female Hazel Grouse Tetrastes bonasia
male Hazel Grouse Tetrastes bonasia
Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus
European Robin Erithacus rubecula
Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans
Long-tailed Rosefinch Carpodacus sibiricus
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthera webbiana
Sigh. The photog scrum/noisy social club
Subhojit and some real birders - note the scopes and binos
February 22 (With Helly)
  For a ‘non-birding’ trip into Seoul, I managed to get a lot of birding done! On Saturday morning I got great long looks at Gangseo’s (in Gimpo) resident Plumbeous Water Redstart – an attractive and confiding bird. The rest of the park was buzzing with Naumann’s Thrushes, Yellow-throated and Rustic Buntings, as well as Vinous-throated Parrotbills. At the north end of the park, I encountered two Short-eared Owls, and the fifteen or so photographers that follow them around all day. Later in the day at Ilsan Lake Park I spotted a cracking male Long-tailed Rosefinch mixed in with some Yellow-throated Buntings.

February 23 (With Subhojit Chakladar)
  Early on Sunday I met up with Mr. Chakladar at Amsa, and lined up next to the photog phalanx to get a look at a long-staying European Robin – a truly stunning bird. We then headed to Namhansan, and after a lengthy stakeout we were rewarded with extremely close views of a pair of beautifully camouflaged Hazel Grouse. Also at Namhansan, we saw Eurasian Nuthatch, Brambling, Great Spotted and Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Coal and Marsh Tit, and a restless group of Rustic Bunting.
  The last spot we visited was the Han River at Oksu, with its massive rafts of ducks. We eventually saw the Baer’s Pochard, as well as a hybrid Baer’s. We also met up with some lovely Korean birders there, and it was a real treat to compare notes with such knowledgeable and passionate folks.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Common Redpoll on Jeju

Common Redpoll Acanthis flammea
  While on a bird-walk through the coniferous hills near Seogwipo, I spotted a single Common Redpoll mixed in with about two dozen Eurasian Siskins – a noteworthy record for Jeju. They're very rarely seen this far south.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jeju in January

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Japanese Bush Warbler Horornis diphone
Dead loon, probably oiled
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Mandarin Ducks Aix galericulata - NOT in a hotel lobby...
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata (male, fully puffed)
female Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus
Eastern Great Tit Parus minor
Warbling (Japanese) White-eye Zosterops japonicus
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes dauricus
female Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata feeding in tree
male Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata feeding in tree
female Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata

male Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata feeding in tree
Red-billed Starling (Silky Starling) Spodiopsar sericeus
White's Thrush (Scaly Thrush) Zoothera aurea
Varied Tit Sittiparus varius 
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Coal Tit Periparus ater
Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra
Eastern Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha
Seogwipo, Jeju Island - January 2014 highlights
 I have been checking my local Seogwipo patch daily for the past month. It’s been an unseasonably warm and hazy January, with double digit temperatures most days. I haven’t encountered anything unexpected, but Jeju has a nice mix of winter birds to see, some of which are not so common on the mainland at this time of year.
  The hills are alive with...tits! Varied, Long-tailed, and Coal Tits are exclusively found up at higher elevations, while Eastern Great Tits are widespread in wooded areas and parks. A White’s Thrush has been spotted several times at a dry riverbed that in summer is home to Japanese Paradise Flycatchers. I’ve also encountered several Bramblings at higher elevations, whereas Eurasian Siskins and Grey-capped Greenfinch can be found reliably in several parks around town. 
  These parks also feature Little Grebe, Green Sandpiper, White-backed Woodpecker, Red-flanked Bluetail, Daurian Redstart, White and Grey Wagtail, Olive-backed Pipit, Japanese White-eye, Blue Rock Thrush, plentiful Yellow-throated Bunting, as well as an overwintering Striated HeronPale Thrushes can be heard burbling through most areas with shady undergrowth, but rarely seen, as they are quite shy. On the 29th I witnessed a group of close to 20 Mandarin Ducks awkwardly feeding on fruit in a large riverside tree – quite a spectacle!
  In and around the harbour, several Common Sandpiper, Pacific Reef Egrets, Mandarin Ducks (120+), several Gadwall, Mallard, Spot-billed Duck, Eurasian Teal, a Common Pochard, as well as Common Coots, several Black-crowned Night Heron, and a Red-throated Loon. On the coast, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes can be seen relatively close in to shore at a number of sites.
  Recently I was surprised to hear the exotic 'summer song' of the Japanese Bush Warbler - very early in the year I thought (January 27). Usually at this time of year they can be heard 'check-check-checking' from the underbrush. Their ‘winter call’ is very similar to the Eurasian Wren, a bird which can be found at several quiet riverside sites around town.
  On the 30th near Jungmun, I found a flock of almost two dozen Red-billed Starlings perched on wires, competing for berries with Brown-eared Bulbuls. Nearby, a small band of personata Black-faced Buntings moved through thick underbrush on a quiet riverside. White-cheeked Starlings and Dusky Thrushes have been conspicuously absent from Seogwipo this winter. Raptors were represented in January by several pairs of Eastern Buzzard, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, several Peregrine Falcons, Common Kestrels, and a Northern Goshawk.