Daily Archives: 28/01/2020

Kangseo Seubji, Hangang River, Seoul, January 25 and 26

Birds News from Bernhard Seliger

Two morning strolls in Kangseo Seubji…Kangseo Seubji, the wetland along the Han river in Kangseo (“West of the river”) district, has in the past been a sometimes very good resting area for ducks, geese and other waterbirds. Now, it has become partly dysfunctional – through alleged improvement, as so often in Korean nature protection efforts. Above the very inconspicuous and exemplary bird hide, a new superstructure has been built to better be able to overlook the whole area. While this is indeed possible, the effect is that the birds which formerly rested just under the nose of observers, are now taking flight whenever someone climbs that new, open staircase. If only every 30 minutes a visitor comes, this means constant disturbance in the area. And, predictably, numbers of waterbirds were very low, with almost none (with the exception of some mallards) resting closely, and most now either far to the right or left, in much worse habitat. Around 30 Mallards, 15 Spot-billed Ducks, 10 Tufted Ducks, only two Pochards, a single Little Grebe and a single Great Crested Grebe were there on both days. A larger group of around 300 Pochards, 30 Tufted Ducks, 30 Mallards, 15 Common Mergansers and up to 50 Great Cormorants swam under the next bridge to the West, two kilometers away – presumably birds, which would rather use like in the past the better Kangseo seubji area.

The surrounding reed areas still allowed for a pleasant walk (if you don’t mind the nearby “88” motorway with its’ noise) with decent numbers of the more common winter visitors and residents, among them smaller and larger flocks of Bramblings, Hawfinches, Greycapped Greenfinches, Yellow-throated Buntings (at least 40 in one flock), Rustic Buntings, Meadows buntings, Little Buntings, Vinous-throated Parrotbills (probably by far the largest, with several hundred counted) and Eastern and Azure-winged Magpies. Smaller flocks of Naumann’s thrushes and at least one Dusky thrush could be seen, and two Chinese Grosbeaks. Others included Greyheaded and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Daurian Redstarts, Ring-necked Pheasants, Oriental Turtledoves, Bull-headed Shrike, Brown-eared Bulbul and Daurian Redstarts.  Only three raptors were seen – a White-tailed Sea Eagle, Eastern Buzzards and Kestrel each. Groups of Tundra Bean Geese and Greater White-Fronted Geese were overflying.

It is sad to see how certainly well-meant and expensive measures are degrading sites – this also applies to the inside of the wetland, were a bewildering number of construction and clearing of brushwood and coppice takes place. To what avail? If doing any public works in the a wetland, wouldn’t it be better to clear the small waterways in the place from the ubiquitous plastic waste?

From Bird hide to hideous…the original (exemplary) bird hide with the new superstructure © Bernhard Seliger
View of Kangseo Seubji Han river side – due to the new observatory, the area in front is barely used for roosting © Bernhard Seliger
Brambling Fringilla montifringilla © Bernhard Seliger
Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes © Bernhard Seliger
Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria © Bernhard Seliger
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanipica cyanus © Bernhard Seliger
In many places, construction along the reedbed takes place and brushwood and coppices are cleared – why?