Sunday, December 30, 2018

Year-end birds – Gangneung, December 27-30, 2018

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Northern Goshawk on duck stakeout
(videos are clearer on the 2nd play, for some reason)

White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos
Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Sanderling Calidris alba

Whooper Swan Cygnus Cygnus (going for a skate)
Japanese Wagtail takeoff

  As all three regular readers of this blog may have noticed, birding on new year’s eve (or thereabouts) has become something of a stumbled upon personal tradition. In that spirit, I’ve been birding steadily during the last week, and…here’s what I saw.
  In my house-hills on the 27th, I came upon (at least) 50 Brown-eared Bulbuls going berserk in a tree laden with persimmons, with a lone Azure-winged Magpie in the mix.

  The following morning, which was a coldish one – four Ruddy Shelduck and 18 Sanderlings on the river were noteworthy. A superficial sweep of the harbour revealed my first two Black-throated Divers (Arctic Loons) for Gangneung.
  A gorgeous morning around Gyeongpo Lake on the 29th – crisp and sunny, with no smog. With 85% of the lake frozen over, scanning the gulls and waterfowl massed on the unfrozen bit was easier than usual. A pair of overwintering Common Kingfishers were seen at their habitual spot, two Siberian Accentors lurked in the bushes, and a Bull-headed Shrike clumsily going after a Winter Wren was a dramatic vignette in an otherwise quiet morning.
  The walk ended well when I explored a new spot and stumbled onto a Northern Goshawk. It was sitting immobile in a wet, grassy stream-bed, with its dark back turned to the section of stream behind it. On that part of the stream, just around a small bend and beyond a footbridge, a brace of dabbling ducks fed obliviously. Clearly the goshawk was lying in ambush for the inevitable mass fly-past. Smart!
  Fifteen minutes later, the goshawk must have run out of patience, as the feathered missile came in hot, making an unsuccessful harassment pass. It even hovered for several seconds, before briefly landing on the bank, then flapping off to a nearby fragment of pine woods. A Eurasian Kestrel on a post was the day’s 51st species logged.
  A five-hour walk through hills west of town on the 30th, under continuing fresh clear skies. The peak pines were busy with Eurasian Nuthatches, Goldcrests, “all the tits” and a solid selection of woodpeckers, including a White-backed Woodpecker. The best/worst bird of the day was a long-awaited and seldom-seen species that was heard, but not seen, as first a Northern Goshawk, and then a chainsaw hillbilly conspired to keep the bird moving. Stay tuned, I’m headed back on Tuesday for another go.
  My Gangneung list hit 140 species today, since I started counting in early October.

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