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Birds Korea Scaly-sided Merganser Survey: January 2014

Nial Moores PhD, Birds Korea, January 27th 2014

A total of 149 Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus were recorded nationwide by the Birds Korea survey, conducted between January 5th and 22nd 2014.  This number is remarkably similar to the 140-149 recorded by our survey work in February 2012, despite much greater survey effort this year, with more survey participants (nine); more dates of fieldwork; and more rivers and river-stretches surveyed.

In 2014, birds were recorded on a total of nine different rivers and streams with the vast majority (90) found along 30km of just one river.   The species was, however, absent at multiple locations along the same river, as well as being absent on ~150km of other rivers and streams that were surveyed.

Although analysis is still ongoing, Scaly-sided Merganser appeared, as in previous surveys, to prefer rivers with stretches of fast-flowing water for feeding, that were close to undisturbed boulders or gravel spits for roosting. They usually avoided slow-moving, deep water and also open stretches of river close to towns and cities, busy roads and parks. However, some individuals appeared to be rather more tolerant of disturbance (especially in areas shared with the usually much more disturbance-tolerant Common Merganser Mergus merganser). And remarkably, the species was absent from several stretches of river that superficially appeared excellent – even when adjacent river-stretches were occupied.

In order to help improve understanding of site usage and possible conservation strategies, information sheets focused on the presence or absence of certain features (such as dams and boulders) were completed at ~175 count points this year.   The count data and information sheets will be organised and analysed over the coming months, with the survey results presented formally in a summary report which will be sent to the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership office before the end of June.

So at this time, sincere thanks from Birds Korea once more to all participants for their donation of time and energy.  We also wish to thank sincerely the EAAFP office for an essential small grant to help facilitate the work; and to overseas Birds Korean Mr. Ed Keeble for his kind donation, participation, and contribution to survey costs.  As much more still remains to be done for the species – both in the field, in the office and at meetings –  we continue to welcome warmly all donations (however large or small).  We would also like warmly to invite you to one or more fund-raising events being organised for this and other key species in the coming months (please see the Birds Korea blog for further details)!

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