Daily Archives: 12/05/2020

Wood Sandpiper

Paju, Wetland near Yongwha Maul and Gongneungcheon river May 1st, 2020

Bird News from Dr. Bernhard Seliger (Hanns Seidel Foundation and Birds Korea lifetime member)

Rice fields in Korea are special all the time of the year, but in early May, when they slowly fill with water – except the wonderful Munon, which are left under water all-year round – they are most interesting as pit stops for migratory birds, in particular small waders. This is even true in the often very degraded environment of the Seoul metropolitan area. May 1st, I went to Paju area. The first stop was the small wetland near “Yongwha maul”, directly beside the “Freedom road” (Jayuro) leading to Panmunjom. There were still various kinds of ducks, in particular Eurasian Teals, Spot-billed ducks, Northern Shovelers and Gadwall, as well as Grey Herons, a Great Egret, a Mongolian Gull trying to catch a far-to-large carp, Little Ringed Plovers etc. A Eurasian Spoonbill slowly wading towards two resting Black-faced Spoonbills allowed for an excellent comparison of size of both species – the Eurasian Spoonbill is much taller.
The second part of the trip went to Gongneungcheong stream, from Odo-dong area, Odo-2-ri, to Jayu-ro again. It was a wonderful trip along rice fields, most of it on a dirt track easy to walk with no cars or cyclists. However, much of that might soon be gone, because the first part of the track was part of another road-building project, which only was not active due to the holiday. In most of the rice fields, along the reed bed and the rice field there were waders, among them most frequently Common Greenshanks, but also Wood sandpipers, Terek sandpipers, Sharp-tailed sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper, and at least ten Whimbrels. Besides Great egrets, Intermediate egrets, Little egrets, a Cattle egret and Grey Herons, there was a single Striated Heron (the first I saw this year) and a single Black-faced spoonbill. In the reed beds, a lot of activity of small birds, like Vinous-throated Parrotbills, returning Zitting Cisticolas and Oriental Reed Warblers, and everywhere Common Pheasant. There was quite a lot of disturbance from preparation of the fields, feral dogs and cats, and cyclists and promenaders on the opposite site of Gongneungcheon, but probably less than in pre-Covid-19 times, and the birds seemed to be adapted to farming quite well. Hopefully, the area can be preserved for the future, too…

In this group photo, the difference in size between Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea Leucorodia, left, and the two Blackfaced Spoonbills Platalea minor can well be seen. © Bernhard Seliger
The area near the Jayuro is a protected migratory bird reserve, but small, from all four side encircled by big roads and development projects and thereby as well disconnected from the few still existing rice-fields in the East of the area and the strip of wetland, forests and rice-fields along the Han river on the West of Jayuro © Bernhard Selige
The elegant Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola at the side of a rice field, always a favorite of mine © Bernhard Seliger
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia feeding on fish (loach) from the rice fields barely filling up with water – an incredibly diverse habitat © Bernhard Seliger
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia was the most common wader species in the rice fields of Paju © Bernhard Seliger
The stroll along Gongneungcheon was lovely, but, like so many places, the area seems to undergo extensive construction © Bernhard Seliger
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus wading along Gongneungcheon stream© Bernhard Seliger
Three Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus along Gongneungcheon – in the wide reed areas of the estuary of Gongneungcheon Whimbrels were constantly circling around and could be heard far and wide © Bernhard Seliger