Sunday, December 9, 2018

Early Decembirds of Gangneung

Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus (left) with Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
doomed Common Merganser Mergus merganser
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
scruffy Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus
Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus
Common (Kamchatka) Gull Larus canus kamtschatschensis
(much heavier bill than I expected, but within the range of 
kamtschatschensis -
thanks to the Kantori group for the ID help)
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Great Egret Ardea alba 
(I think those pale legs at this time of year make this a 
Western Great Egret Ardea alba alba...reading up on it right now...)
White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (and friends)
Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria
The flusher (left), the swans (centre), and the photographer (right)
Gotta get that perfect in-flight shot...
The flusher hustling over to scare the resting swans back towards the photographer
  Wait, how is it 2018? Weird. It was just 2009, pretty sure that was yesterday. A cold week in Gangneung, but not Canada cold, heh heh. Geez, I sound like a typical smug Canadian. Guess that’s what I am, eh. Ho hooo, cold? Never! Anyway, I’ll take cold over smog any day. I understand cold, and can deal with it. Oh, it’s cold? Put on a hat. Smog filling my lungs with ghost cancer? Get me outta here. I rested my mountain-busted legs for the first half of the week, and there wasn’t much going on in the hills or on the river later in the week – no further sightings of the Barn Swallows or Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.
  I walked the Namdae River on the afternoon of December 8th, and spotted 40 species. At the photog spot, the Oriental Stork still loitered, and was joined by a White-tailed Sea Eagle, which performed to the staccato applause of camera shutters. A flock of eight Chinese Grosbeaks seems to be making a (rare) go at overwintering near my house. Stay tuned.
  I headed out to Gyeongpo Lake bright and early on December 9th to meet a good birding friend, but unfortunately there was an issue with my phone and we got our wires badly crossed, so didn’t end meeting up. A la prochaine.
  By mid-afternoon, I had tallied a nice even 50 species on the lake and in the fields and reservoirs beyond. No sign of last month’s Water Rail or suspected Bluethroat. On a quiet canal, I was greeted with the grotesque sights of a Common Merganser with its bill fouled with fishing line, and then a dead Temminck’s Cormorant lying upside down in the crook of a tree. Nearby, I spotted a Common Kingfisher – a species I feel like I don’t see that often in winter in Korea.
  Best of the day was a winter-plumaged Chinese Pond Heron that circled the canal once then headed off – the species rarely overwinters in Korea. Also notable were a Common Shelduck flyby, and single Slaty-backed, Common (Kamchatka), and Glaucous Gulls on the lake, amidst the more common gulls. I’m giving gulls a try, sigh.
  My day ended with a Common Snipe and a dozing Tundra Swan among a bevy of 26 Whooper Swans. The resting swans were repeatedly harassed by a photographer, who sent his companion ahead to disturb and flush the birds back towards him so he could get closer/flight shots. Appalling.

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