Dr. Bernhard Seliger (Hanns-Seidel-Foundation Korea and Birds Korea)
A trip to the No Gun Ri Global Peace Forum brought the chance for an afternoon of searching for birds in the vicinity of Yeongdong, South of Daejeon. Though in the countryside, the human factor has been heavily impressed here, with agro-industries, many apple orchards, large-scale infrastructure (the Korail and motorways), hot houses etc. The most promising seemed to be the large bent, the Geumgang river made just 10 kilometers North of Yeongdong. There, smaller and larger islets in the river seem to offer shelter for birds and interesting, diverse habitat.
Luckily, the idea paid off: 31 Whooper Swans had landed in the river and their beauty in the very clear late autumn afternoon light, offered a beautiful, indeed spectacular view. Besides, the results of this short birding trip were modest: in the river the “usual suspects”, like Common Sandpiper, a late Common Kingfisher, Little Grebes, an assortment of ducks (mostly Spot-billed Ducks and Mallards, but also Teals, a pair of Tufted Ducks, and three female Common Mergansers), Great Egrets, Grey Herons, White Wagtails, and in the village of Kutan-Ri, nearby the river, dozens of Oriental Turtle doves in the newly harvested rice fields, a single Eastern Buzzards, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Common Kestrel each, buntings, in particular Yellow-throated buntings, several Bull-headed Shrikes, Common pheasant, Brown-eared Bulbuls, Oriental Magies and Azure-winged Magpies, and a single, surprising vocal Light-Vented Bulbul, plus Large-billed Crows and one suspected Carrion Crow.
The river, as well as the small streams, do offer some habitat everywhere, and a more thorough review might be fruitful.
Regarding the Whooper swans, the one disappointing, but already familiar sight were the four of five bird photographers, one of whom was trying to came so close to the swans, that finally half of them swam away and half were flying off…hopefully, a better understanding of the need for safety and calmness for migratory birds will in the future lead to a more considerate approach of these “bird lovers”…