Saturday, January 12, 2019

Non-valley news – Gangneung, January 9-11, 2019

Coal Tit Periparus ater
Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Long-tailed Tit feeding frenzy
(note: videos play clearer on the second go)

Pine sap buffet (or...demon?)
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
White Wagtail Motacilla alba ocularis
male White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis
female White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis
White Wagtail (leucopsis subspecies) sashaying through a ditch

  Just got back from D-Valley and I’d rather not talk about it right now, so here’s what I saw during the week.
  On January 9th, some interesting birds were skulking along the banks of the Namdae River – 12 overwintering Chinese Grosbeak, a quick Hawfinch, a Siberian Accentor, and several Little and Black-faced Buntings (that reminded me of Song Sparrows) mixed in with a band of Yellow-throated Buntings. A flyby White-tailed Sea Eagle put up a cloud of gulls at the photog spot.
  In the hills behind my house the following day, I watched 20+ Long-tailed Tits writhing over a tree trunk in a pine sap feeding frenzy – first time I’ve witnessed such behaviour. Coal and Great Tits came down to see what the fuss was about, but after taste-tests, they didn’t seem to have the taste for the sap. The walk ended with eight Olive-backed Pipits.
  On the 11th, I did Gyeongpo Lake and beyond in the morning murk. Yay smog! A huge raft of gulls floated in the middle of the lake, just beyond the range of my binoculars/patience. Fairly quiet overall, with a dozen Pallas’s Reed Buntings and another Siberian Accentor being notable.
  At the end of my walk I got onto some White Wagtails in an agricultural ditch. I’ve only been seeing lugens in Gangnenung, but I ran into an ocularis and a pair of leucopsis mixed in with some lugens (I...think?). I originally had the female pegged as a potential baicalensis, a subspecies rare to Korea – which would have made little sense, especially at this time of year. *Shakes fist at the ambiguous baicalensis illustrations in the new Birds of Japan guide, then high-fives knowledgeable birding friends.* Yet another reminder of how little I really know when it comes to Korea’s birds. Guess that’s one of the reasons I’m into birding - I enjoy digging myself out of the well of ignorance, one confusing fistful of subspecies at a time.'s 2019? Wtf.


  1. Hi, difficult on one image, but I think your top lugens looks much better for an ocularis (look at those dark centres to the wing coverts in what otherwise looks like an adult, superficially or otherwise). You would expect lugens to lack these darker centres; to show much darker upperparts (often with a splotchy look when moving toward BP); and to show some darker shading along the flanks. Ocularis is undergoing a change in status here, with small numbers now overwintering (including 2-3 at Namdaecheon in Gangneung this winter).

    1. Thanks! Sorry, I didn't spot this comment until just now, I guess I stopped getting notifications. Wagtail subspecies are giving me more trouble than I recall in the past. I'm assuming this is Dr. Moores?