Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Last January in Korea

Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus with Hooded Cranes Grus Monacha
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
Swan Goose Anser cygnoides
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
White-naped Crane Grus vipio
  Will it really be my last year in Korea? Yes, I sure hope so.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekend Whitethroat

Hanging out with the uni bird club kids - the coolest folks in Korea
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
  Late last Saturday, I got news of a Lesser Whitethroat sighting in Busan. Being a fairly mega bird for Korea, I found myself on an early Sunday morning bus before I knew what was happening. At the spot where it was found by a group of university bird club members (perhaps there is hope for Korea), the first bird of note was a smart Long-tailed Shrike. An uncommon bird, and always awesome to observe. A worryingly short distance away from the shrike, the Lesser Whitethroat appeared next to a trail, flitting confidently through the small trees. It was lucky I saw the bird so soon after the initial sighting, as it wasn't seen the following week. Hopefully a recent spell of cold, wet weather is responsible for the absence, and not the lethal-looking shrike.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Suncheon, December 24, 2015 – January 9, 2016

Long-tailed Rosefinch Carpodacus sibiricus
Pallas’s Rosefinch Carpodacus roseus
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthera webbiana
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus
Reed Harvesting
Area stripped of reeds
Suncheon Bay
  The reeds at Suncheon Bay at this time of year are constantly rustling with restless Vinous-throated Parrotbills, Chinese Penduline Tits, and Pallas’s Reed Buntings (though almost no Common Reed Buntings yet). There are now noticeably less reeds for these birds, as truckloads of workers have been harvesting large swaths of reeds from the area lately, leaving the inevitable piles of trash behind them. Another issue is that one has to be careful where one steps these days, as a disturbing and widespread new trend at the bay seems to be ‘outdoor bathroom breaks’ – a truly repulsive situation.
  The bay was gloomy and chilly on December 24th, with the obvious highlight being a brief encounter with a female Bluethroat. Other noteworthy bird sightings included a Western Osprey, just one Cinereous Vulture, and a dozen Lapland Longspurs. Two days later in the hills north of town, seven Pallas’s Rosefinch were a treat to watch as they fed in a roadside ditch just after sunset.
  On the final day of 2015, an Eastern Water Rail and the overwintering pair of Hen Harriers were seen, but the real excitement for the day came in the form of three Pine Buntings. This is a long-awaited species for me, and this sighting was apparently the most southerly mainland record.
  A Siberian Accentor on January 2nd was a personal new species for the site, as were two Long-tailed Rosefinch on January 9th. Later in the day, I was fairly surprised to see a lethargic Long-billed Dowitcher. Six White-naped Cranes were also a welcome sight.