Hwaseong Wetlands FNS, May 26th and 27th

Bird News from Nial Moores (Director of Birds Korea) and Jung Hanchul (Gyeonggi KFEM and Birds Korea member).

Highlights of the 19th survey of these wetlands as part of the Hwaseong Wetlands Project included single Little Stint and Pied Harrier, two Oriental Pratincole, seven Whiskered Tern and rarest of all a near full breeding plumaged Black Tern (a species with fewer than ten national records, but sadly not photographed this time), calling as gaining height and flying south. We also found a new location with Ochre-rumped Buntings in territory.

Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos 알락개구리매 © Nial Moores

As northward migration comes to an end, our survey found many fewer waterbirds than in any previous survey (just under 3,000), though these still included several globally-threatened waterbirds including 110 Far Eastern Curlew, 35 Great Knot and 3 Nordmann’s Greenshank, latter species on 26th only; as well as 58 Black-faced (and five Eurasian) Spoonbills, six Chinese Egret and an oversummering Oriental Stork.  Among 29 species of shorebird, we also enjoyed good views of several breeding species (e.g., Little Ringed Plover and Common Redshank) and of some late migrants, including 185 breeding-plumaged Terek Sandpiper and four Curlew Sandpiper. Most frustrating was scoping a possible Spoon-billed Sandpiper on both the 26th and 27th, too distant to identify with any level of confidence.

Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes 노랑부리백로 © Nial Moores
Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 노랑부리저어새 © Nial Moores
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius 꼬마물떼새 © Nial Moores
Common Redshank Tringa totanus 붉은발도요 © Nial Moores
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus 뒷부리도요 © Nial Moores

The surveys we have conducted for the Wetlands Project, led by the EAAFP Secretariat and funded by Hwaseong City, have confirmed beyond any doubt the outstanding international importance of these wetlands; and preparations are now well underway to designate some of the FNS as a nationally protected wetland conservation area and perhaps as a Ramsar site. All the same, the colony of more than 100 pairs of Little Tern found in mid-May has already been abandoned, presumably because water levels in the Reclamation Lake were heightened by managers; and in addition to last year’s nesting site of the Nationally Endangered Ochre-rumped Bunting being bulldozed sometime before April, even the newly-discovered area is also even now threatened with being ploughed under.

Ochre-rumped Bunting Emberiza yessoensis 쇠검은머리쑥새 © Nial Moores
Four male Ochre-rumped Buntings were seen here on May 26th: note the bulldozer behind and the bulldozer tracks through the area
Nesting area of Ochre-rumped Buntings in 2020…
And the same area as above, in 2021.
Ochre-rumped Bunting, Hwaseong FNS, May 26th.
Site of Little Tern colony, mid-May 2021
Nationally Vulnerable Little Tern Sternula albifrons 쇠제비갈매기. This species appears to be undergoing a catastrophic decline in the ROK, with most colonies now dependent on areas actively undergoing reclamation. A National Recovery Plan, with management guidelines, and conservation actions taken by reclamation bodies could quickly reverse this species’ negative trend. is there any support for such a plan?

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