Saturday, 25 February 2012

If I Had A Photograph (Of You) - Flock of Seagulls

The weather pattern remained the same today with a temperature around -4C first thing, smoggy atmosphere and an icy wind to drive it right to the bones. Good job then that the same course prevailed and by mid-morning the sun was out warming things up a treat. A 2 pronged attack today as the determination for the Relict Gull has not waivered one inch, while the destination should produce a few woodland bird as well. The ferry ride to the city and seaport of Incheon is about 20 minutes, not bad considering the £2.00 'round trip' fare, as close by stands the docklands around Songdo, where the Gull is seen on occasion. Plenty of Gulls at the Ferry Terminal so the first couple of hours were spent there, and around the mass of other inlets and creaks, before moving on, via the 702 bus, where a long time was spent to no avail. On then to

where first on offer were sveral Brown-eared Bulbul, a flock of 6 (presumed) Dusky Thrushes plus a small skien of Bean Geese. Part way up the mountain track a large Tit flock appeared led in the first instance by a few Eastern Great Tit then another new bird for the trip

Varied Tit

of which there were 5.

Next cale Marsh Tit (2) and

Long-tailed Tit of which there were about a dozen before

a pair of noisy Common Raven arrived to perch in trees nearby.

About half way up what is an easy slope, first a single Oriental Turtle Dove

and then there were two.

OTD detail.

The trees, particularly Pines, were full of Korean Squirells

but the pulse started racing when this Accipiter flew past, it being nothing more than a Eurasion Sparrowhawk.

The final bird at the park, which also holds Grey-headed Woodpecker and in the season White's Thrush (both World Lifers), was this Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Back at the ferry the mud was now fully expossed, Gull numbers had grown and the boat awaited. A little more time was spent looking through the Gulls before I handed in my ticket but then the deckhand called for me to board as the ramp was already being raised. As we started to slip astern I picked up what was the only 'all white' Gull there, immediately recognised as a Relict Gull! No question of a doubt, the brown feathers on the wings pointing to a 1st winter bird. Beside myself and fumbling for camera and 'scope at the same time, there wasn't a dogs chance of being dropped back on the jetty, but did manage to get it in the Mighty Midget for a very short time amid the boulders and other debris plus much vibration. I also rattled off 3 shots which amounted to no more than blurs as it was now very distant and being obscured much more than being seen. It was an awful long 20 minutes back to Yeongiongdo Quay and even longer getting another ticket and returning but that was all in vane, no sign. This, as my only 'target' bird on this trip should have been the highlight but met with a degree of disappointment as all the other Gulls seen thus far have been captured on camera. However, it has been recorded and there will be other chances in Gangneung and Busan later in the trip.

NO PRIZES FOR GUESSING WHERE I'LL BE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING!

It should be noted that for convienience once again I am posting one day behind making the date of this record yesterday Friday 24th.

Coincidently, I received this e-mail from Nial Moores, undoubtedly an authority on the birds of this region, later the same day:-

Dear Bagsy,

Found two first-winter Relicts at a much-degraded wetland within 15km of the Incheon international airport day before yesterday (no internet access until now). Birds likely to have been there from earlier (not properly surveyed that I am aware). If you can fly within a day, I could try to guide you (fee of 250USD per day plus travel and accom) on Monday to find the species...You would need either to rent a car and self drive or to rent a car and driver.

If not, then I can try to make time to check far southeastern site (in Busan) too next week. Birds usually remain into late Feb/beginning of March once here (ie 1-2 weeks more).

Best wishes and birding,
Nial
Birds Korea

video
As a consolation prize I'll leave you with a
Ferry Feeding Frenzy - Black-tailed Gull