Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Suncheon Area, June 17 - August 3, 2015


juvenile Chestnut-cheeked Starling Agropsar philippensis
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor
Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
 It has been a hot and humid summer in Suncheon, but by no means has it been slow on the bird front.  It seemed like three of the four pairs of nesting Chestnut-cheeked Starlings had left the area by June 17th, with only one female spotted attending what sounded like several young.  On July 10th, one adult male was seen attending a nest, perhaps with only one juvenile inside.  By July 15th, the sole Chestnut-cheeked Starling seen was a juvenile, finally out of the nest, flying to a group of nearby trees and back to the nest repeatedly.  Perhaps in the vain hopes of being fed?  On July 26th, with Tim Edelsten, we were surprised to see an adult male and a juvenile/female type, at a site several kilometres away from the main nesting area.  Could these have been members of the late-nesting family at the original site, or different birds altogether?
  At Suncheon Bay on July 15th, after a tropical storm passed east of the area, I made out two terns in the morning gloom.  A Whiskered Tern moving into non-breeding plumage, and a more sluggish tern with a heavy-looking black bill that looked good for Gull-billed Tern.  When I returned the next day for a further look, a single Little Tern and two buoyant Whiskered Terns, all in crisp summer plumage, were spotted over the mudflats.  Also of note on that day was a single Black-faced Spoonbill, a Yellow Bittern, increasing shorebird numbers, and several Black-headed and Saunders’s Gulls.
  Perhaps the most surprising July sighting at the bay was a Eurasian Bittern on July 10th, which would appear to be one of the first summer records for this species in the ROK.  Is this the same bird that has been sighted here throughout the late winter and spring?  Why is it apparently spending the summer at this site?
  Small numbers of Greater Painted Snipe have been seen but mostly heard throughout this period, at three separate sites, on six different dates.  At least a dozen Terek Sandpipers on June 17th seemed a notable summer record.  A Eurasian Hoopoe was also seen that day at the bay, and again on July 19th.  On July 10th, about ten Pacific Swifts were spotted, as well as a similar number of Barn Swallows, with three Red-rumped Swallows mixed in.  By August 3rd, the Oriental Reed Warblers at the bay had all gone quiet.  This silence may perhaps be related to the scruffy and vulnerable juveniles seen clumsily trying out their wings among the reeds.

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