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A Report from

South Korea, 21st Sept– 12th Oct 2005,

Trev Feltham

This is an account of only the birds that I saw during this trip.

I would like to thank Nial Moores for arranging everything, teaching us a little about Korean culture, being a brilliant birder and guide, and without his knowledge we would have struggled.

I would also like to make people aware of the importance for conservation in South Korea, and in particular Saemangeum, a vast area of mudflats which migrating waders and many, many other birds rely on very heavily. This area is under real threat from development; it would devastate the bird population if this were allowed to happen.

I have been lucky enough now to have seen birds like Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank, but for many up and coming birders of the future, this may never happen, places like this must be saved. If you feel that you would like to help in any way please go to and join, this will cost you nothing, but every names that gets behind them helps.

21st September – 12th October 2005

Left Manchester on the 21st heading for Amsterdam where I met up with another member of the tour, from there onto Incheon International S.K. arriving 10.05 on the 22nd. We were met by our guide Nial Moores at Incheon, and immediately went to arrange the hire car. Driving to the Hotel Sky where we met our third team member.

22nd September, Yeongjong Island – Dongjin Estuary, Saemangeum

We started birding just after lunch in very heavy rain. Stopping briefly en­-route alongside a busy expressway, we saw 12 beautiful Black-faced Spoonbill along with 2 Eurasian Spoonbill, a Saunders Gull and a sprinkling of waders. Reaching our destination, the area we were going to bird consisted of rice fields with reed fringes, a tidal river and very extensive mudflats.

As the track we were driving became very muddy we left the car and decided to walk. One of the first new birds was a Bull-headed Shrike sitting on the wires; and there was a Brown Shrike a little farther down the road. Then a surprise was a Chinese Pond Heron sitting on a post in the distance, an uncommon bird apparently. Another pleasure to see were 4 Ring-necked Pheasant's (real ones), while other new birds were Oriental Reed Warbler and the numerous Vinous-throated Parrotbill.

We went back to the car to drive down to the estuary. Parking on a narrow road with a river at one side and the estuary just over a banking at the other, we scanned the river first and were very impressed to see around 200 Marsh Sandpiper, 5 Ruff, 1 Wood Sandpiper and 1 Nordmann’s Greenshank along with 80 Common Greenshank. Most of these were on a mud bank with a small number on the riverside. Walking up the slight incline we were then looking over the very extensive mudflats of Saemangeum, as the tide start to rise, obviously the waders were pushed closer and closer. These included 100 Far Eastern Curlew, 200 Terek Sandpiper, 40 Great Knot, 300 Red-necked Stint, 60 Broad-billed Sandpiper, 80 Mongolian Plover, 500 Dunlin, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Red Knot. Forty Black-tailed Gull were flying around, as was a couple of Eurasian Hobby. The light started to go, so it was decided to call it a day, surely helped by the fact we were by now thoroughly wet.

23rd September, Dongjin Estuary, Saemangeum – Geum

The first full days birding were spent wader watching at these two locations. The numbers given are counts for the day.  6 Common Snipe, c400 Black-tailed Godwit, 60 Bar-tailed Godwit, c200 Whimbrel, 2 Eurasian Curlew, 120 Far Eastern Curlew, 20 Spotted Redshank, 40 Common Redshank, c1000 Common Greenshank, c500 Terek Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper, c10, 000 Great Knot, 1 Red Knot, c600 Red-necked Stint, 3 Temminck’s Stint, c600 Dunlin, c200 Broad-billed Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 40 Pacific Golden Plover, 10 Grey Plover, 1 Little-ringed Plover, c250 Kentish Plover, c250 Mongolian Plover, 1 Greater Sand Plover, finally as the tide reached its highest, the wader that I had come to see, 3 Spoon-billed Sandpiper  (1 juv + 2 adult). Other birds seen were, Baikal Teal c850, Vega Gull, Mongolian Gull, Black-tailed Gull and Saunder’s Gull, plus 3 White-winged Black Tern. New birds seen en-route, Azure-winged Magpie, Dark-sided Flycatcher, Daurian Redstart and Brown-eared Bulbul.

24th September, Mangyeung – Geum – Seosan

Arriving at our first destination, we had a new bird as soon as we got out of the car; this was a Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker feeding along a row of few trees by the roadside.

We decided to drive down a track to Mangyeung, which is still part of the Saemangeum area, but the opposite side to where we already had been. On the estuary were the usual array of waders, these included 250 Great Knot, 80 Broad-billed Sandpiper, c5000 Dunlin, c200 Red-necked Stint, c100 Kentish Plover, c250 Mongolian Plover, c200 Grey Plover etc. While behind us was a fish farm, which had a couple of mud rich pools, on one of these was c450 Common Greenshank along with another extremely rare Nordmann’s Greenshank. After spending a couple of hours, as we were making our way back to the road we saw two Yellow Bittern in a nearby reed bed.

Then we headed for Geum; here we had distant but good views of Eastern Oystercatcher (not a split) and a few Heron and Egret. It was time to head for which was going to be our overnight stop at Seosan. This very large area consists mainly of rice fields with two huge areas of water called lakes A & B as well as lots of small connecting waterways. Impossible to cover properly in a number of visits due to the shear size, we just did our best. On lake A, were good numbers of Little, Great and Cattle Egret, also 50 Mongolian Gull, along with 10 Vega Gull and 150 Black-tailed Gull and 1 Saunder’s Gull. Ducks were reasonably represented with c5000 Baikal Teal, 100 Common Teal, c1000 Spot-billed Duck, 200 Northern Pintail, Shoveler, Garganey and a new species were 9 Mandarin Duck.   

Driving slowly with frequent stops around the rice fields was brilliant. One Little-ringed Plover with 5 Wood Sandpiper and 3 Green Sandpiper were in one field. While walking past other fields occasionally a Common Snipe would take to the air. Sometimes, very rarely we had sightings of Swinhoe’s and Pintail Snipe. Pechora Pipit was heard regularly flying over, as was Red-throated Pipit, more familiar were c100 Eurasian Tree Sparrow, and the by now the regular Vinous-throated Parrotbill. In the distance an Eastern Marsh Harrier quartered a field, while up to 8 Hobby were always looking for a meal. Our last new bird of the day was a Chinese Grey Shrike, which gave excellent views as it posed on top of some vegetation.

25th September, Seosan + En-route to Busan

An early morning arrival saw a Purple Heron dropping into the reeds and around 1500 Barn Swallow leaving their roost along with several Red-rumped Swallow. While on the lake this morning was more or less a repeat of yesterday afternoon. Notable additions being both the Taiga and Tundra form of Bean Goose, 15 White-fronted Goose and 3 Falcated Duck. Other additions while driving around the area were, 2 Peregrine, 1 Black-browed Reed Warbler, 5 White Wagtail (leucopsis race), and several Richard’s Pipit. Wood Sandpiper numbers had risen to thirty, plus 4 Little-ringed Plover, 2 Marsh Sandpiper, 25 Common Greenshank, 30 Spotted Redshank, 10 Common Sandpiper and c100 Common Snipe. The Eastern Marsh Harrier was still present as was the Chinese Grey Shrike, our final new bird of the area were 5 Meadow Bunting sitting on some wires by the side of the exit road.

Now we were heading for Busan, there seem to be a movement of Oriental Honey Buzzard as we had twelve flying straight over the car more or less as soon as we set off. After having been driving for a while we stopped again on a busy expressway to look into a bay, as the tide had gone out, this had exposed a few rocks. It wasn’t long before a bird had been spotted walking among the rocks, it was quite distant, and awkward to see, but after a good hard look you could see what it was, a Grey-tailed Tattler. Again, driving for a while before our next stop, which was a river that had lots of pebbles around, both on the edge and forming small islands, the new bird we had here was a Japanese Wagtail. Close by we made another stop in similar sort of habitat; this was near the city Jeonju. Again we were successful in locating the bird; this time it was 3 Long-billed Plover. Now it was a straight on to Busan, arriving in the evening.

26th September, Busan (Dadopo Park) – Nakdong Estuary

First stop this morning was the park, this seemed a little quite bird wise, we went off the path and down into a glade. A couple of Arctic Warbler were the first to show, followed by 4 Great Tit. Walking up the other side a woodpecker could heard tapping on a tree, when its whereabouts was discovered, what a surprise, it was a superb and very close White-backed Woodpecker. Then back up onto the path and a very colourful Varied Tit, all the while several Coal Tit were around, and by the end of our walk we had seen c100, as well as 2 Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, 8 Eurasian Jay, 8 Long-tailed Tit, several Brown-eared Bulbul and 3 Pale Thrush rounded off this excursion. Now we had a rendezvous with a man and a boat.

We arrived at an office near the key and were met by the gentleman who had agreed to take us to a small sandy island in the estuary. Boarding his small rubber dingy with an outboard motor, we set off on the 20/30 minutes journey. On arrival he lead the way walking towards a distance point, there didn’t seem to be many waders around, this was probably due to the dozen or so Black-eared Kite that were constantly flying overhead, as well as an Osprey. As soon as any waders would land, a Kite would fly over and flush them. But as we walked closer, the Kites went out of our way, thus allowing the waders to settle down. One of the first we saw was a Common Ringed Plover, apparently a rarity in S.K.  Walking along, we had Sanderling, Kentish Plover, Mongolian Plover and Dunlin, and then a Spoon-billed Sandpiper was spotted. As we watched this one run around, another eventually joined it. We all gathered to watch these two birds, as I had a camera, I was beckoned by Mr. Jeon Shi-Jin, who really knew these birds to follow him, this was a once in a life time opportunity to get close to one of the worlds most enigmatic waders. We walked to within 15 metres without the slightest hint of bothering them, and then I started taking photos. I must have taken around 100 shots before we left, as we did so the birds were still there feeding away happily. That must have been, one of the highlights of my 26 yrs of birding, and obviously one I will never forget. On the way back we had 20 Common Tern, which were the only different sighting. Back in the boat, we went to visit another island, passing a few floating buoy, there were 3 adult Heuglin’s Gull, along with one Vega Gull resting. Upon reaching the island, one of the first birds we saw was yet another different Spoon-billed Sandpiper, this was in with 75 Red-necked Stint and 1 Little Stint. After watching these for a while, we had a walk around this small area but didn’t see anything else. Then it was time to go, after getting back on land we said our goodbyes and set off towards our hotel, very content with our days birding. 

27th September, Taejongdae Park – Joonam Reservoir

Into the park early, this is basically a steep road with trees on both sides. But occasionally there are paths to get into the woodland. It was rather different, as there was Sixties music blasting out from speakers by the side of the road. I must be the only person in history to have ticked White’s Thrush while listening to Elvis. But I didn’t mind, because this was another one of those birds I especially wanted to see, and by the end of the day I had seen three. Japanese White Eye were plentiful, with around twenty. While some other birds seen were, 6 Pale Thrush, 6 Arctic Warbler, 10 Eurasian Jay, 20 Magpie, and 2 Yellow-throated Bunting, along with Great and Coal Tit. Apparently near the top is a good place to watch migration, in just a couple of minutes we had 6 Chinese Sparrowhawk and 1 Japanese Sparrowhawk and up to 10 Hobby.

But time to move on, we started the long drive North towards Seoul. We intended to stop along the way, the first of these being the Joonam Reservoir, a large reservoir surrounded by vegetation, just north of Busan. Here we had a good array of ducks, with our first Tufted Duck and Pochard of the trip, also 25 Falcated Duck, 50 Pintail, 100 Spot-billed Duck, c500 Common Teal, 100 Eurasian Wigeon, plus small numbers of Mallard and Shoveler. A lone Whiskered Tern flew back and forth over the top of c250 Coot and 25 Moorhen. While watching the tern, a Yellow Bittern took to flight, only to drop almost immediately back into the reeds. Behind us on the wires were 4 Bull-headed Shrike and around 40 Oriental Turtle Dove, also a new bird, a Grey Starling.

As we had such a long distance to go it was decided to just keep going until we saw

anything special. Our one and only stop was on the expressway near Pyeongtaek in the evening to watch c10,000 Baikal Teal moving south.

28th September, Ganghwa

The first area we visited was a field that had lots of Yellow Wagtail (Taivana) and White Wagtail (Ocularis) also 10 Grey Wagtail and 10 Common Snipe, with 1 Pintail Snipe, also 1 Osprey and 1 Black-eared Kite flew by. Then we walked around a few bushes, this produced 2 Grey-headed Woodpecker, 6 Arctic Warbler, 50 Vinous-throated Parrotbill, 2 Marsh Tit, 2 Varied Tit, 2 Bull-headed Shrike, 1 Daurian Redstart, 1 Little Cuckoo, 1 Common Cuckoo and 3-4 Black-faced Bunting.

On to the estuary, the usual waders, c300 Far Eastern Curlew, c300 Great Knot, among others, but the birds we had come to look for were Chinese Egret and we were lucky enough to see thirty, along with these were 3 Little Egret, 2 Intermediate Egret, 50 Great Egret, also 3 Black-crowned Night Heron. On the way back to the car there were 2 Dollarbird sat on the very top of a dead tree in the distance, a new bird.

29th September, Yeongjong – Ganghwa – Seosan

Another eight people for the main tour had now joined us. Our first stop was for the Black-faced Spoonbill at Yeongjong, where we had nineteen. Onto Ganghwa where we had 35 Chinese Egret, 130 Saunder’s Gull, 12 Eurasian Curlew, c250 Far Eastern Curlew, 150 Common Greenshank, 1 Nordmann’s Greenshank, 120 Terek Sandpiper, c400 Great Knot, 250 Red-necked Stint, c2000 Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover and 30 Mongolian Plover. Making the waders uneasy was a Peregrine and a couple of Hobby, and even an Osprey flew by. As we were leaving 1 Dollarbird was still present from yesterday.

Some of the birds seen in other areas were, 1 Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, 6 White’s Thrush, 1 Grey-streaked Flycatcher, 3 Asian Brown Flycatcher, 1 Mugimaki Flycatcher, 1 White-rumped Swift, 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, 6 Arctic Warbler, 6 Marsh Tit, 2 Varied Tit, 20 Great Tit and 2 Black-faced Bunting, plus c150 Oriental Turtle Dove seen throughout the day.

Finally down to Seosan, it was quite late when we arrived so we straight to the hotel.

30th September, Seosan – Taean

A miserable day with rain for most of it, but there were a few dry periods. At Taean we had several Temminck’s Cormorant perched on a rock, while watching those, someone found a Streaked Shearwater passing out at sea and altogether we saw three. On the way back to the coach we had a Blue Rock Thrush, but very little else.

Then onto Seosan arriving early afternoon, we stopped by the side of a stubble field that seemed full of birds. Lots of Common Snipe with a final days count of around 300. One Pintail Snipe, 1 Spotted Redshank, 15 Common Greenshank, 16 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper, 5 Red-necked Stint, 40 Pacific Golden Plover, but the best reserved for last, a Eurasian Dotterel (first for S. Korea).

On Lake A were c800 Bean Goose, c10,000 Baikal Teal, 200 Eurasian Teal, 100 Spot-billed Duck and c500 Black-tailed Gull. In the air, but not all at the same time, we had 2

Eastern Marsh Harrier, 3 Hobby, 1 Peregrine (juv) and 4 White-throated Needletail. Other bird included 5 Richard’s Pipit, 1 Red-throated Pipit, Azure-winged Magpie, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow and 1 Striated Heron.

1st October,Seosan Lakes A & B

Rain again, first stop to look for the Dotterel, it was still present. The Wood Sandpiper had risen to 20 and Spotted Redshank up to 6, 1 Curlew Sandpiper and 1 Ruff were new, but all the others remained the same. Another field had a large numbers of Greater White-fronted Goose and 2 or 3 Lesser White-fronted Goose, also a Chinese Grey Shrike on some vegetation at the back of the field. Probably the same one from last week.

A walk along the edge of a reed-fringed area of water produced 2 Black-browed Reed Warbler, 2 Oriental Reed Warbler, 2 Yellow-breasted Bunting and 25 Vinous-throated Parrotbill and a surprise was to have 4 Oriental Pratincole fly over.  Another short walk by the side of a rice field had a unexpected White’s Thrush, but also the more usual 6 Red-throated Pipit, 2 Richard’s Pipit and 1 Pechora Pipit.

On the lakes were c4000 Bean Goose, c200 Spot-billed Duck, c2000 Northern Pintail, 400 Eurasian Teal, 12,000 Baikal Teal, 2 Garganey and 1 White-winged Black Tern. While on an island were 100 Black-tailed Gull, 20 Black-headed Gull and 12 Black-winged Stilt.

2nd October  Gunsan – Geum River – Dongjin Estuary Saemangeum

Had an early walk up a wood covered hill close by the hotel at Gunsan. This was pretty quiet with 8 Eurasian Jay, 1 Mugimaki Flycatcher, 2 Daurian Redstart, 8 Great Tit, the bird that made up for that, were 2 Northern Boobook, which were seen two to three times in flight giving good views.

At the Geum river, Eastern Oystercatcher, Mongolian Gull, Vega Gull and Baikal Teal.

Onto Dongjin, 6 Oriental Honey Buzzard circled around as we walked down to the estuary, along with 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk. While waiting for the tide to rise I walked down a reed fringed river bank, 4 Little Grebe, 2 Striated Heron, 8 Moorhen, 2 Oriental Reed Warbler, 2 Siberian Stonechat and 2 Grey Wagtail.

Back on the estuary, not a very hide tide and with the birds being buzzed regularly by at least 4 Hobby they took a while to settle, but nevertheless some good numbers, like

c7000 Great Knot, 2500 Dunlin, 1000 Kentish Plover, 200 Mongolian Plover, 200 Red-necked Stint and 50 Common Greenshank.  A Whiskered Tern paid a couple of visits when flying up and down the river behind us before disappearing. Along the way back 4 Bull-headed Shrike were on the wires.

3rd October Mokpo – Taeheuksan Island

The trip across to the island was roughish, but not too bad, for some of us anyway.

Only birds I saw were 6 Streaked Shearwater and 1 Flesh-footed Shearwater in the circa 2 hour crossing. A minibus was waiting to take us to our hotel, and then it was a case of drop our things and go birding. Several Yellow-browed Warbler were close by the hotel, as was a White-tailed Eagle that floated by. A couple of birds were in the bushes as we walked down the hill towards the village, namely Little Bunting and Yellow-browed Bunting. As soon as we got down the hill there were a flock of Starlings, this consisted of 2 Daurian Starling, 1 Chestnut-cheeked Starling and 16 White-cheeked Starling, also some 25 Chinese Grosbeak were in the same vicinity, what a way to start.

A hundred metres further, we turned a corner went over a bridge where a drain ran into a tidal river, and looking to our right were 3 Grey-tailed Tattler quite close by. On the left was a small pond, at the back and to the side of which was still part of the village. We walked past the pond that held 1 Common Greenshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Temminck’s Stint. As well as the waders there were also a few smaller birds in the surrounding habitat, Pechora Pipit, Richard’s Pipit, Little Bunting, White Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail. We carried on walking around the buildings where it soon became obvious that the most common pipit was Olive-backed, as there always seemed to be one in view sitting on the wires, and a daily count of 30 was regular. As we reached our farthest point, a Black-naped Oriole flew by, we then spent some time looking for a Japanese Bush Warbler in thick vegetation, it was eventually seen by some, but not by me. Walking back onto the road and past the pond, another Japanese Bush Warbler was heard; this one was more obliging and was seen well by everybody. The road took us up a hill and then down into another bay where an immature Slaty-backed Gull was waiting for us. After visiting a small reservoir where 3 Falcated Duck, 1 Eurasian Wigeon, 8 Spot-billed Duck, 2 Eurasian Teal and c60 Grey Heron were noted. We walked around an overgrown wet area of reed where we saw 5 Common Snipe and a Watercock, which was a real surprise.

After spending most of the afternoon walking, without a great deal of success, we were rewarded at the very end as we neared the hotel, when a Von Schrenck’s Bittern was stood in the middle of the path we were walking, watching it for a good five minutes before it moved on.

4th October  Taeheuksan Island 

We set off this particular morning in two taxis, to be dropped off in the vicinity of one of the regions specialties, the Black Woodpigeon. But after spending a few hours there, all we had achieved were flight views, having said that, just how many all black pigeon are there, and later in the day I had a really good flight view. Back to the taxis to go to another part of the island, on the way we saw a Pacific Reef Heron sitting in a small bay, which was a new bird. Then it was time for another walk, birds seen, a distant White-tailed Eagle, presumed the same one as yesterday, c30 Japanese White-eye, 1 Black-browed Reed Warbler, 2 Middendorff’s Warbler, one really giving good views, 1 Dusky Warbler, 8 Chestnut Bunting and 2 Little Bunting. Back in the village and going towards the hotel, 1 Blue Rock Thrush on the beach and 2 Pacific Golden Plover.

5th Taeheuksan Isand – Ferry – Dongjin Estuary

Spent the early part of the morning taking photographs of Temminck’s Stint, Grey-tailed Tattler and one of at least 30 Chinese Grosbeak and Common Sandpiper. Some other birds seen were Arctic Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, White Wagtail (Ocularis), Grey Wagtail, Olive-backed Pipit, and Black-faced Bunting.

Ferry crossing was very quiet.

At Dongjin, 2 Little Grebe, 5 Little Egret, 4 Great Egret, 3 Black-crowned Night Heron,

6 Grey Heron, 8 Common Pheasant, 200 Eurasian Tree Sparrow, 2 Hobby, 3 Bull-headed Shrike, 3 Siberian Stonechat, 6 Black-browed Reed Warbler, 1 Oriental Reed Warbler and 10 Barn Swallow.

6th Gunsan – Eocheong Island

Went into the wood close by to the hotel, 2 Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Eurasian Jay, 6 Great Tit, 20 Brown-eared Bulbul and passage movement of c20 Red-rumped Swallow with 1 Asian House Martin.

Eocheong Ferry, on the way out of the bay had 1 Black-faced Spoonbill and 190 Eastern Oystercatcher, with 10 Streaked Shearwater during the crossing. On arrival 5 Temminck’s Cormorant were seen, also 1 Oriental Cuckoo.

A short walk produced 2 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 2 Grey-faced Buzzard, 3 Common Kestrel, 3 Eurasian Hobby, 1 Peregrine and 4 White-cheeked Starling.

7th October  Eocheong Island

A thoroughly wet and miserable day so did hardly any birding. But did get out occasionally, seeing 25 Asian House Martin, 1 Vega Gull, 2 Oriental Honey Buzzard,

1 Northern Goshawk, 30 Olive-backed Pipit, 1 Red-throated Pipit, 2 Richard’s Pipit, 1 Siberian Stonechat and 3 Common Rosefinch. But the best was at the end of the day, when a Lanceolated Warbler was found, it was watched down to 5 metres as it ran along occasionally jumping up to take an insect from the low growing vegetation. While watching that bird, I happen to look up just in time to see a Grey Nightjar fly by at eye level 2 metres away.

8th October  Eocheong Island

There were definitely more birds about today. We started by going back to where the Lanceolated Warbler had been seen the previous night, but no luck. There was however, 1 Blue Rock Thrush, 1 Grey-backed Thrush 2 Yellow-browed Warbler and several Buntings. Walking around we past the spot where a Swinhoe’s Snipe had been flushed from the day before, this time it was just sitting in the garden out in the open totally unconcerned about anybody, got some nice photos. As we were standing there, 3 White-rumped Swift few over in the distance, and a Common Rosefinch was sat in a bush alongside us. Then going to a good vantage point, a few raptors were moving through, these included, 6 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 1 Black-eared Kite, 2 Japanese Sparrowhawk, 3 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 2 Northern Goshawk, 9 Grey-faced Buzzard, 5 Common Buzzard, 2 Common Kestrel, 6 Eurasian Hobby and 2 Peregrine.

Carrying on the walk towards the lighthouse, there was more Yellow-browed Warbler. While actually at the lighthouse itself we had 4 Lanceolated Warbler and 4 Black-faced Bunting. During the walk back a flock of around 40 Swallows turned out to be all Red-rumped.

Now we were on the edge of the village, and at an overgrown area we nearly always checked out. On this occasion it really paid off, somebody had, while walking through flushed what looked like a Lancey, while I was looking for this, I inadvertently flushed another paler bird, it only flew 10 metres before dropping into a garden the other side of a drain, as it did so it fanned out its tail on landing and I saw several white spots on the tips.

I did get even better views eventually, to confirm it was a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler. Then as we sat on a wall discussing it, a Hoopoe flew over and landed in a nearby pine tree, it was just brilliant.

Other bird seen during the day were, 1 Chestnut-eared Bunting, 1 Little Bunting, 2 Chestnut Bunting, 50 Olive-backed Pipit, 6 Red-throated Pipit 1 Richard’s Pipit and 20 Brown-eared Bulbul.

9th Eocheong Island – Seosan

We only had the morning to go birding as we were catching the ferry at lunchtime. 

First we visited the quarry but it was quiet, only a Blue Rock Thrush and Arctic Warbler. Walking down the main street we turned left and going up hill were walking around gardens. These were usually quite good for birds, and after a couple of Yellow-browed Warbler, the next bird was totally unexpected, when a Baillon’s Crake was seen walking on the top of a wall, having first been seen on the path. A little further and several  Yellow-browed Warbler, but this time there were also 2 Red-throated Flycatcher. Heading towards the overgrown area just outside the village, there were 2 Northern Goshawk, 1 Grey-faced Buzzard and 4 Eurasian Hobby over the nearby hills. No warblers today in that area just 4 Chestnut Bunting and 6 Black-faced Bunting.

Back into the village where 4 White-cheeked Starling were on the wires and a Heuglin’s Gull was in the harbour. Then it was time for the ferry. The crossing was quiet with only 4 Streaked Shearwater.

Arriving on the mainland, our bus was waiting to take us to Seosan again. We had come here to witness a spectacle that we had already been told about. But nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to see. As dusk started to fall, thousands and thousands of Bean Geese began to leave the fields and head for the lake, this in itself was something to see as an estimated 50 – 80,000 created a constant stream, there were possibly even more than that, as they just carried on and on. But the real show was only just beginning. First a few Baikal Teal took to the air, then more and more, until several different groups each with thousands of birds in them were all on the wing. Every so often they would come together, twisting and swirling as they danced through the air creating a spiral effect. An estimated number of between 150 – 200,000 birds all in the air together. What a show.

10th Seosan – Teoksan - Namhansan  

Back at Seosan for the first few hours produced still large numbers of waterbirds, but 2 Ruddy Shelduck had not been seen before. Two Great Egret feeding together in the shallows gave a very good comparison with the two species, Great Egret (Ardea alba) and Eastern Great Egret (Ardea alba modesta) the nominate race being much the larger of the two. Then a walk down some fringed reed, had several small birds, these included 30 Vinous-throated Parrotbill, 1 Black-browed Reed Warbler, 2 Yellow-breasted Bunting, 2 Chestnut Bunting and 12 Black-faced Bunting.

At Teoksan a long walk didn’t produce anything special, we did see however, 2 Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Daurian Redstart, 6 Japanese White-eye, 3 Yellow-browed Warbler, 3 Arctic Warbler and 4 Yellow-throated Bunting.

11th  Gwangneung – Han-Imjin/Imjingak

The first walk was near the Arboretum at Gwangneung, a tree-lined road with some shops, a cafe and a few industrial buildings lead into a more densely wooded area, around the work places was an opening surrounded by trees, but also the dense wood could be scanned from there, it was this place that became very productive. A couple of Daurian Redstart were the first birds we saw, these were followed by 2 Marsh Tit and the usual noisy Brown-eared Bulbul. A Great-spotted Woodpecker was seen flying over the wood; this was followed by several Large-billed Crow, then the first new bird of the day, a Black Woodpecker. We stayed in that area for a while, birds seen there were 6 Varied Tit, 4 Olive-backed Pipit, 2 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Two-barred Greenish Warbler, 4 Yellow-throated Bunting, 1 beautiful male Chestnut Bunting and 6 Tristram’s Bunting. Throughout the morning Brambling had been flying over in groups, an estimated 100 altogether. On the way back to the coach, 1 Little Egret and 30 Vinous-throated Parrotbill were the only birds noted.

After a short drive we entered the Arboretum, there were hundreds of school children, but despite this the boardwalk was still good. With 6 Mugimaki Flycatcher, 1 Dark-sided Flycatcher, 2 Eurasian Nuthatch, 2 Marsh Tit, but the best bird for me was a Rufous-tailed Robin.

Then we had a drive up to the DMZ, a few birds were there including c10,000 Bean Goose, 1000 Greater White-fronted Goose, 1 Lesser White-fronted Goose, 100 Swan Goose, 100 Spot-billed Duck, 15 Great Cormorant, 40 Grey Heron, 24 Eurasian Spoonbill and 10 White-naped Crane.

To end the day we went off the expressway parked the coach and walked along a path with a small stream at one-side and rice fields at the other. Along the stream were 1 Green Sandpiper, 40 Eurasian Tree Sparrow and 10 Black-faced Bunting. Someone shouted, and looking up there were a several falcons circling, these were then joined by more and more until in the end 96 were counted all Amur Falcon, in with these were also 4 White-throated Needletail. We went a little further under the expressway to a muddy field, where we had 1 Common Snipe and 1 Pintail Snipe. Then it was time to go to the hotel and end what had been a very enjoyable and in many ways an interesting 3 weeks.

This list below follows the book,  Birds of Korea by Woo-Shin Lee, Tae-Hoe Koo and Jin-Young Park.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas

Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Temminck’s Cormorant Phalcrocorax capillatus

Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis

Schrenck’s Bittern Ixobrychus eurhythmus

Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Striated Heron Butorides striatus

Chinese Pond Heron Adeola bacchus

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Pacific Reef Heron Egretta sacra

Great Egret Egretta alba  + E. a modesta

Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

Swinhoe’s Egret Egretta eulophotes

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Purple Heron Adrea purpurea

Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor

Swan Goose Anser cygnoides

White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons

Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus

Bean Goose Anser fabalis middendorffi  + A. f. serrirostris

Ruddy Shelduck Tadnorna ferruginea

Mandarin Duck Aix galericulata

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos

Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha

Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata

Common Teal Anas crecca

Baikal Teal Anas formosa

Falcated Duck Anas falcata

Garganey Anas querquedula

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope

Northern Pintail Anas acuta

Common Pochard Aythya ferina

Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus

Black-eared Kite M. m. lineatus

White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albiclla

Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis

Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis

Japanese Lesser Sparrowhawk Accipiter gularis

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur nidicus

Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus

Peregrine Falco peregrinus

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo

Amur Falcon Falco amurensis

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla

Moorhen Common gallinule

Watercock Gallicrex cinerea

Coot Fulica atra

White-naped Crane Grus vipio

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

Little-ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus

Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Mongolian Plover Charadrius mongolus

Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii

Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola

Eastern Oystercatcher Haematopus (ostralegus) osculans

Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis

Little Stint Calidris minuta

Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii

Dunlin Calidris alpina

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea

Red Knot Calidris canutus

Great Knot Calidris tenyirostris

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Sanderling Calidris alba

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Euryynorhynchus pygmeus

Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

Redshank Tringa totanus

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis

Greenshank Tringa nebularia

Spotted Greenshank Tringa guttifer

Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus

Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelus brevipes

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata

Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura

Swinhoe’s Snipe Gallinago megala

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum

Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris

Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus

Saunder’s Gull Larus saundersi

Heuglin’s Gull Larus heuglini

Vega Gull Larus vegae

Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus

Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus

White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucoptera

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Black Wood Pigeon Columba janthina

Rufous Turtle Dove Streptaoperia orientalis

Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus

Little Cuckoo Cuculus poliocephalus

Northern Boobook Ninox scutulata

Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus

White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus

White-rumped Swift Apus pacifica

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis

Hoopoe Upupa epops

Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos kizuki

Great-spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major

White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos

Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus

Black Woodpecker Dryocopos martius

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica

Asian House Martin Delichon urbica

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava +  M,f, tiavana

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

White Wagtail Motacilla alba leucopsis  +  M.a. ocularis

Japanese Wagtail Motacilla grandis

Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi

Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus

Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni

Brown-eared Bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis

Chinese Great Grey Shrike Lanius sphenocercus

Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus

Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus

Rufous-tailed Robin Luscinia sibilans

Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus

Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius

White’s Thrush Zoothera dauma

Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus

Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum

Japanese Bush Warbler Cettia diphone cantans

Pallas’ Grasshopper Warbler Locustella certhiola

Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata

Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler Locustella ochotensis

Black-browed Reed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps

Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis

Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus

Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus

Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis

Two-barred Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus t. plumbeitarsus

Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki beitarsus

Red-throated Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla

Sooty Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica

Grey-spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta

Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica

Vinous-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis webbianus

Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus

Varied Tit Parus varius

Marsh Tit Parus palustris

Coal Tit Parus ater

Great Tit Parus major

Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea

Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus

Meadow Bunting Emberiza cioides

Tristram’s Bunting Emberiza tristrami

Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys

Yellow-throated Bunting Emberiza elegans

Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola

Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla

Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala

Brambling Fringilla montifringilla

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus

Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria

Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

Grey Starling Sturnus cineraceus

Violet-backed Starling Sturnus philipensis

Daurian Starling Sturnus sturninus

Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis

Jay Garrulus glandarius

Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus

Eastern Magpie Pica pica sericea

Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos


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