Sunday, May 17, 2015

Geomun-do redux, May 9-10, 2015

Gaudy, drunken clots of noisy mainland visitors all too typical on Korean islands on the weekends...

A massive, ridiculous, empty hotel
'Godzilla flipping the bird' Islet
Yellow Bunting Emberiza sulphurata
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris
Grey-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta
Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila
The perils of migration
The perils of migration part II
  After three consecutive unsuccessful weekend attempts to get back to Geomundo during peak migration, I finally returned on the weekend of May 9-10. I can now say I've surveyed this island slightly too early, and slightly too late. It was a frustrating few weeks spent watching ideal winds sweeping up towards Geomun on the computer screen, imagining what exotic vagrants could potentially be grounded there. On this trip I re-checked three main patches that Subho and I found a month previously, in an effort to get a sense of the turnover in birds in these spots.
  The mix of birds on May 9-10 had similar flavour to the birds Subho found on Weiyondo (in the Yellow Sea) over the same weekend, albeit in much reduced numbers. Was I seeing the outer eastern fringe of a more westerly stream of migrants he saw? See his report here:
  It was good to get a taste of migrating buntings like Chestnut, Black-faced, Yellow, and Yellow-breasted, all seen in low single-digit numbers, mostly at two separate south-jutting headlands. A few Grey-streaked Flycatchers were spotted in pines, and two Asian Brown Flycatchers were seen feeding at the exact same spot where I saw one last time - coincidence or perhaps something more? Small groups of Ashy Minivets were seen or heard overhead for most of the weekend, while a calling Oriental Scops Owl and Grey Nightjar at dusk lent a summery feel to the island soundscape.
  On the downside, for migrating birds that is, a pair of fat and happy Peregrines were feasting on exhausted buntings as they made landfall on the southern tip. Additionally, the island hosts an unhealthy number of feral cats at prime areas where migrants come ashore and pass through.
  At least six Black Wood Pigeons were heard or seen in two suitable locations, and I'm guessing there are more in the one large section of the island I've been unable to check as of yet. Other highlights included a Streaked Shearwater from the boat, a Chinese Pond Heron, a Brown Shrike, Grey-faced and Oriental Honey Buzzards, and a visible arrival of 10 Grey Wagtail on the morning of the 10th.
  Geomundo proved again that it is a lovely and endearing little corner of South Korea, and I would really enjoy the chance to survey it properly during peak migration in the south - or at least during the week when all the dreadfully raucous tourists return to the mainland.

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