|Gadwall Anas strepera|
|Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago|
Common Snipes foraging amidst the trash
|Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major|
|Pallas’s Reed Bunting Emberiza pallasi|
|Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla|
|Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula|
|Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope, Falcated Duck Anas falcate, Gadwall Anas strepera|
|Japanese Bush Warbler Horornis diphone...honestly!|
|Japanese Bush Warbler Horornis diphone|
|Eurasian Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris|
|Ever read Wump World?|
|Morning walk in my hood|
Smoggy on the 29th of January. All quiet on the river on the eve of my Seoul trip. Well, it was quiet until I got to the river mouth, and was double-schwacked over the head by mystery and ignorance. As recently noted, I glibly pride myself on learning from my mistakes, and/or not making the same mistake twice. When it comes to the Falcated Duck, I’ve now fallen on my face twice in Gangneung when it comes to trying to ID a non-breeding male. I betcha I can make it three! I saw the confusing bird loitering with a dopping of mostly Eurasian Wigeon, and my mind was ticking towards something like female American Wigeon. After nosing around on the Kantori group, turns out it was a female Falcated Duck. Now I know, again. Befuddled again by Falcated Ducks! Refuddled? Befalcated?
The walk ended with a quick sighting of what I was quite certain, at the time, was a White-winged Tern (and not a Saunders’s Gull). After not securing defensible record shots, and with much hindsight, that species seems outlandish and unlikely. But what was it then? I know what I saw. Do I? Bah.
Smoggy on February 4th, the river was still quiet, although I got good looks at the daubs of chestnut on a Gadwall’s upperwings. Why had I never seen that striking feature before?
The following day, which was smoggy, Tim came out east and we picked through colonies of gulls at Donghae, in the hopes of finding an American Herring Gull within crowds of Vega Gulls. We spent hours convincing ourselves that a growing number of candidates were looking good for AHG, but in the end, I don’t believe we saw one. I think I’m done with gulls.
Smoggy on the 6th, for a quiet walk around Gyeongpo Lake. A skulking passerine that was check-checking from a clump of inaccessible reeds had me scratching my head for a good long while before I figured out it was my first sighting of a Japanese Bush Warbler for Gangneung. Had I been on Jeju, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the ID, but they’re not a super common winter species up here. The ID was muddied by the presence of obfuscating waves of Vinous-throated Parrotbills, several Pallas’s Reed Buntings, and a doppelganger Eurasian Wren, which did its best to throw me off the trail. Got some ridiculous record shots.
Smoggy on the following day, for a mostly uneventful walk along the river (pick up on the themes yet?). Interestingly, I spotted another Japanese Bush Warbler, skulking in some reeds true to form – two in two days! A male Northern Shoveler was unusual for the river, and the overwintering flock of 20 Chinese Grosbeak showed well in their favoured river trees. The river was quiet on the 15th, on a crazy windy day.
On the 13th (smoggy, of course), while on a walk through the hills behind my house I was gut-punched when I discovered an entire wooded ridge being stripped of vegetation in preparation for the inevitable concrete trucks and rebar men. Without fail in this country, when I find a quiet little patch that is productive for birds, it is trashed within the year. Nothing will be left here in 10-15 years, no joke. This was the spot where I discovered a Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker in a crooked tree a few months back, by the way. That tree is gone.
February 17th was only slightly smoggy for a walk around the lake, huzzah. In the same scrubby patch where the Japanese Bush Warbler was spotted last week, some interesting bunting action, with Little, Meadow, Pallas’s Reed, Rustic, and Yellow-throated Buntings all recorded.
The walk ended well, as eight Common Snipes ignored nearby foot traffic while they foraged in a trash-choked farm ditch. It was awesome to get long looks at the usually furtive, solitary(ish) species.