Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Suncheon Area, May 12 – June 2, 2015

Suncheon at dusk
Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis
Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka
  It feels like summer in Suncheon, with noisy Oriental Reed Warblers in every patch of reeds, Black-naped Orioles calling and nesting, and Oriental Dollarbirds chasing Chinese Sparrowhawks through the hills. On May 30, a Chinese Pond Heron was seen in the company of a dozen Cattle Egrets in a rice field, and on May 31, three Striated Herons, several calling Indian Cuckoos, and a lone Whooper Swan in a small reservoir were notable west of Suncheon.
  Nesting Chestnut-cheeked Starling update: First sighted nesting on May 6, when I checked in on May 12, 25 and 29, I saw two to three pairs of Chestnut-cheeked Starlings still attending their telephone pole nests. On the 12th, I saw a pair at a post about one kilometre away from the main site, although it is unclear if this was one of the original pairs feeding, or a new pair. On May 29, the happy sound of peeping chicks was heard from within one nest when an adult returned with food.
  On the morning of May 28, I saw some wader-type birds in a rice field south of town, and I was unable to ID them in the field due to the distance and poor lighting. When I returned at dusk on May 31, I was greeted by an owl-like hooting coming from the same spot. After a few minutes of observation, a pair of Greater Painted Snipes revealed themselves at the far end of a rice field. They stood tail to tail for a while, before the male performed a wing-raising display for several minutes in the fading light. I managed to capture several terrible distant record shots. Here’s hoping this pair will breed successfully.
  Nearby, just before sundown, the local Eurasian Bittern was spotted as it made a short flight between reedbeds, presumably to roost. Nine Eurasian Spoonbills were seen at considerable distance on the flats, although two of them looked potentially like Black-faced Spoonbills.
  On June 2, while on a walk in the hills just northeast of downtown Suncheon with Helly, we heard two Fairy Pittas calling from across a wide valley. Shortly thereafter, a male Grey Nightjar surprised us with a noisy circular flight over our heads, before landing nearby. It was wonderful to finally see this incredible species after only hearing it for so many years.

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