Additions to the South Korean List:
observations of species not listed by Lee, Koo & Park (2000)
Nial Moores November 2002


Chinese Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis.
Eocheong Island, 29 Oct 02

Written with the original intention of submission for publication in the Korean Journal of Ornithology, this paper aims to provide a record of twenty-eight species observed by the author in South Korea that are not listed in Lee, Koo & Park’s A Field Guide to the Birds of Korea (2000), generally regarded as the most-up-to-date and comprehensive field guide to birds recorded on the Korean peninsula. It also provides details of sightings of the Chinese Blackbird Turdus (merula) mandarinus which was first recorded in South Korea by NM and was included in Lee, Koo & Park on the basis of that record.

In total, three species first seen by other observers and twenty-three first found by NM are considered to be new species’ records for South Korea and thus presumably for the whole Korean peninsula. Additionally, three further species, Ring-billed Gull, Lesser Kestrel, and Azure Tit are considered by the author to be correctly identified, but given the importance of the records and the slight irregularities in plumage or inadequacy of the observations, all three need to be listed separately for future reference.

The records span from November 4th 1995 through to October 29th 2002, with most falling in 2000-2002, a time of concentrated surveying of two offshore islands, Gageo Island in Shinnan-Gun, Jeollanam Province and Eocheong Island in Gunsan City, Jeollabuk Province.

Two of the records concern species, the Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica and the Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis, which are not listed for the Oriental region, and have not been recorded in the region covered by the Oriental Bird Club (OBC) (expanded by the OBC to include Eastern Palearctic Korea and Japan), and for which records from e.g. eastern Russia have also not yet been traced. However, the Hudsonian Godwit occurs annually in Australasia and can be expected to abmigrate through East Asia, and the Ring-billed Gull has recently been identified in Japan, with probably two different individuals being photographed in Honshu in winter 2001/2002 for example.


The time required for the process of gathering information for the paper, and the burgeoning length of the paper itself, meant that it could not be submitted in time for planned publication in the Korean Journal of Ornithology in 2002. The Korean Journal of Ornithology is not only highly respected, it also presents a unique publication locale for new species records in Korea: an especially vital function as South Korea lacks a Rarities Committee. Our intention therefore in presenting the paper in the website at this time is twofold: to assist in the revision of knowledge of the status of several of these species in South Korea pre-publication; and to allow for continuing input and improvement of the accounts (most especially the sections on the species’ status in neighboring countries, but also on elements of identification criteria for poorly known species). After further input, the paper will be broken up into appropriate sections, with the aim of publication in 2003 and 2004. All further contributions are highly welcome, and will be gratefully acknowledged both within the website and in the printed papers.


Twenty-six species (with their order and nomenclature based on the Oriental region Checklist produced by the OBC) are listed in Table 1, with the date and locality of their first observation, and three further species, Ring-billed Gull, Lesser Kestrel and Azure Tit are listed in Table 2.

Much of the paper expands on these records, describing key features leading to their identification, and adding relevant information on their suspected status in China and Japan, Far East Russia, and through extension, in South Korea. Many of the references for mainland China and Taiwan derive from A Field Guide to the Birds of China (MacKinnon and Phillipps, 2000), a book, however, known to contain numerous mapping mistakes and errors in range assumption (e.g. Carey, 2001); for Hebei, China, from personal correspondence with Jesper Hornskov; and for Japan from the rather outdated The Birds of Japan (Brazil, 1991). The brief status review for both China and Japan is therefore supplemented by largely unpublished data from several highly experienced ornithologists living within the region, and on personal observations, collected from Japan and elsewhere from 1990.

Table 1: Twenty-six new species for Korea.

Species recorded in South Korea by NM not included in Lee, Koo and Park (2000), with the exception of Chinese Blackbird. Order and nomenclature from the OBC Checklist (Inskipp et al.1996, with subsequent revisions).

NB: For individual species descriptions and details please click on the species name in the English Name column.

English NameScientific NameDateLocation of First Sighting
Ferruginous DuckAythya nyroca2 Feb 2002 Dongpan Reservoir
Asian KoelEudynamys scolopacea28 May 2001 Gageo Island
Himalayan SwiftletCollacalia brevirostris3 May 2002 Gageo Island
Hudsonian GodwitLimosa haemastica8 May 1998 Asan Bay
South Polar SkuaCatharacta maccormicki4 Nov 1995 Off Busan
Pomarine SkuaStercorarius pomarinus4 Nov 1995 Off Busan
Long-tailed SkuaStercorarius longicaudus14 May 2002 Shinnan-Gun
Slender-billed GullLarus genei9 Jan 2002 Gwangyang Bay
Sooty ShearwaterPuffinus griseus6 June 2002 Off Busan
(Chinese) BlackbirdTurdus (merula) mandarinus14 July 1999 Near Sokcho
+Ferruginous FlycatcherFicedula ferruginea+28 April 2002 
30 April 2002 
Eocheong Island
Northern WheatearOenanthe oenanthe9 May 2000 Gageo Island
+Red-billed StarlingSturnus sericeus16 April 2000 
30 April 2000 
+Ganghwa Island
Gageo Island
Rose-coloured StarlingSturnus roseus1 Sept 2002 Eocheong Island
Eurasian Crag MartinHirundo rupestris29 April 2002 Eocheong Island
Manchurian Reed WarblerAcrocephalus tangorum27 Oct 2000 Gageo Island
Hume’s WarblerPhylloscopus humei18 May 2000 Gageo Island
Sakhalin Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus borealoides28 April 2000 Daeheuksan Island
Bimaculated LarkMelanocorypha bimaculata9 Oct 2001 Gageo Island
Tree PipitAnthus trivialis1 May 2000 Gageo Island
Chinese BulbulPycnonotus sinensis29 Oct 2002 Eocheong Island
Japanese AccentorPrunella rubida3 March 2001 Dadapo, Busan
YellowhammerEmberiza citrinella18 Oct 2000 Gageo Island
Ortolan BuntingEmberiza hortulana2 May 2000 Gageo Island
Black-headed BuntingEmberiza melanocephala4 Nov 2000 Gageo Island
+Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis+18 Feb 1998 
1 Nov 2000 
Nakdong, Busan
Gageo Island

Table 2: Three additional new species for Korea.

The following three species are considered correctly identified by the author, but either some discrepancies have been noted or the observations may be considered inadequate for National first records. They have therefore been placed in a separate category for special consideration by any future Korean Rarities Committee.

English NameScientific NameDateLocation of First Sighting
Ring-billed GullLarus delawarensis3 May 1997 Suncheon Bay
Lesser KestrelFalco naumanni2 Nov 2001 Gageo Island
Azure TitParus cyanus13 Jan 2000 Haenam

Table 3: Additional New Species for Korea.

The following new species have occurred in South Korea since the original posting of this article.

English NameScientific NameDateLocation of First Sighting
Great Black-headed GullLarus icthyaetus1 Dec 2002 Han River
White-crowned SparrowZonotrichia leucophrys3 Feb 2003 Busan
Bar-headed GooseAnser indicus4 Mar 2003 Han-Imjin
Northern House MartinDelichon urbica lagopoda19 Apr 2003 Eocheong
Red-breasted FlycatcherFicedula (parva) parva30 Apr 2003 Eocheong
Isabelline WheatearOenanthe isabellina1 May 2003 Daehuksan
Chinese (Song) ThrushTurdus mupinensis31 May 2003 Socheong


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This paper was written by Nial Moores, and edited and adapted for the website by Charlie Moores. Both would like to express thanks for the help received:

  • Many thanks are due to a number of people who commented on various sections of the paper.
  • These include Kim Su-Kyung and Dr. Park Jin-Young , who read through the extended paper and added information on their own sightings;
  • Dr. Lee Ki-Sup who advised on the overall shape of the paper;
  • Jesper Hornskov, who made many helpful comments and added information on the Chinese range and status for many species;
  • Pete Collins, Danny Rogers, Dr. Clive Minton, David Melville, Dr. Seb Buckton and Pete Morris who added much information on Hudsonian Godwits;
  • Dr. Vladimir Dinets who added much on the status of several species of bird in Far East Russia;
  • Koji Tagi and Dr. Hiroaka Takashi at the Yamashina Institute who provided much useful data on Savannah Sparrows;
  • HANADA Masataka for information on published records of Long-tailed Skua in Fukuoka.
  • Kim Jin-Man who provided additional information on Red-billed Starling.