Bird News from Nial Moores (with Bernhard Seliger and Choi Hyun-Ah)
From March 15th-17th another round of marine bird surveys was conducted off from Daejin-Geojin (Gangwon Province) as part of research on biodiversity conservation close to the inner border region. Survey conditions were excellent throughout with light winds; seas with wave heights of <1m; and high visibility.
This was the seventh survey of this area since June 2014 conducted as part of a collaborative project between Birds Korea and the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Korea). As before, count effort by NM was comprised of a boat-based survey (on 15th, with BS and CHA); counts of gulls and other marine birds off and north of the Daejin lighthouse (with BS, between 16:30 and 17:30 on 15th); counts of birds along the coast from the wonderful January Pension (just south of Daejin harbor) south to the southeast of Geojin headland (from 09:30 to 17:30 on 16th); and counts of birds moving along the coast for two hours starting 15 minutes before sunrise from a January Pension balcony (06:32 at Gangneung on the 17th).
About 70 species were recorded in total, with a mix of residents (including 3+ Red-billed Starling), lingering winter specials (including single White-tailed Eagle, Cinereous Vulture and Siberian Accentor) and early-spring migrants, with a couple of Mandarin Duck on the sea, flocks of Greater White-fronted Geese totalling 500-1,000 moving north over the sea and land, and several waves of Rook over-land, with 160+ seen going north on the 15th and 900+ on the 16th. There were even a couple of real spring arrivals in the form of a Common Sandpiper and a singing leucopsis White Wagtail (both on the 17th).
(All of the images that were taken by NM taken through superb Swarovski optics – including one digibinned from the boat…)
A minimum 6,000 marine-preferential birds of 26 species were recorded during the survey, with the majority Pelagic Cormorants and gulls and loons of three species, through including 800+ Ancient Murrelet, probably 9 Rhinoceros Auklet, at least four Brunnich’s (in one group) and one Common Murre (with another four murres seen which were probably Brunnich’s but were too far to identify with confidence); and 59 American Scoter (in much reduced numbers this winter compared with previous years).
Best of all, however, was a First-winter Relict Gull Ichthyaetus relictus on the beach by the Daejin Lighthouse on the 15th (seen and photographed at close quarters, through those extremely annoying green railings!, by NM and BS). This is presumably the first record of this globally Vulnerable species in Goseong County.