Goseong with its varied habitat of sea, lagoon lakes, forests and mountains and paddies and wetlands is still worth a trip, though habitat loss takes place at a disturbing speed. Currently, a large new road project takes away much of the habitat left in Ganseong’s Namcheon (South stream), and the construction of small, visitor-friendly ponds with paths, wildflower gardens, artificial stones and other beautification eliminates the best parts of Hwajinpo lake area, namely the remaining wetlands – the coastal part has long been domesticated by a marine and an ecology museum, roads, and large parking lots for summer mass tourism. But also throughout the county (as elsewhere in the country) the fitting of small trenches into concrete pipes, use of former, often valuable strips of wasteland and the disappearance of undisturbed areas progresses.
Within this sad framework, still Goseong and in particular the area close to the CCZ, as the forests around the famous and beautiful temple Geonbongsa, remain interesting.
On this short trip, among others Tiger Shrikes, Brown Shrikes, plus a Bull-headed Shrike were seen. In the threatened wetlands surrounding Hwajinpo, Ruddy-bellied Crakes were seen (being very secretive, each time too shortly to do a decent photo, alas), as well as other birds of the reeds, like Vinous-throated Parrottbills, Great Oriental Reed Warblers, Common Kingfishers and a Little-ringed Plover, a bird also found at the seaside by Daejin and the rice paddies of Namcheon. In several places also Mandarin Ducks (Natural Monument no. 327 of the Republic of Korea) could be observed, often in small streams, once a female with five ducklings in Songjeongri, also close to a new development project, and once a group of one male and two females sitting on a tree overlooking Hwajinpo lake. Also, Japanese Wagtails were seen in several places, together with White Wagtails and Grey Wagtails.
Close to Geonbongsa, a Dollarbird fed his offspring in a tree cave, and many passerines like Blue-and-white flycatcher, thrushes, Korean bush warblers and Black-naped Orioles could be heard.
Currently, around fifty percent of Goseong are in North Korea, and of the South Korean side around thirty percent are part of the Civilian Control Zone, which is only exceptionally accessible. There is still some time left to think about concepts which better reconcile bio-diversity, human development and the understandable desire to enjoy nature. Everybody interested in working on this challenge is invited to join forces.
The reedbeds of Namcheon © Bernhard Seliger
A large new construction project will cut off Namcheon reedbeds from their natural extension into the sea, substituting the natural riverbed by a canal-like riverbed © Bernhard Seliger
Japanese Wagtail (Motacilla grandis) in Namcheon© Bernhard Seliger
Beautification through little ponds and wooden walkways, but a loss of reed beds important for biodiversity © Bernhard Seliger
A juvenile Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) © Bernhard Seliger
Chinese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter soloensis) © Bernhard Seliger
A Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus) © Bernhard Seliger
Blue-and-white Flycatcher (Cyanoptila cyanomelana) © Bernhard Seliger
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius placidus), here seen in Daejin at the seaside, but also in rice paddies and at lake Hwajinpo © Bernhard Seliger
Female Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) with five ducklings © Bernhard Seliger