Cranes and more near the border – Sangam Wetland (Paju Book City), Route 37 from Paju to Jeonseok and Cheolwon around Dokyo Reservoir and Hantang River

Dr. Bernhard Seliger (Birds Korea, Hanns Seidel Foundation) with Mark Siegmund

An interesting day mainly looking at cranes in the inner-Korean border area. We started in the dark to see hundreds of geese and nine Eurasian Spoonbills leaving the small wetland in front of Paju book city with the first morning light. The only wader a lone Green Sandpiper.

At the Imjin River we encountered 198 White-naped Cranes, most of them in a large group (possibly of bachelors?), and 11 Red-crowned Cranes. A Leopard Cat, crossing the almost completely frozen river, was ignored by the birds. There was only a single Cinereous Vulture, as well as a male Hen Harrier. Similarly to the cranes, vultures seem nowadays to concentrate heavily in places where they are fed.

Finally, on Dokyo reservoir in Cheolwon, also completely frozen, two White-tailed Sea Eagles were seen. Near Hantang River, a  clever farmer made a few tents with wholes where photographers (for 10.000 KRW) can sit and do crane photos; there was quite a large group of them, despite the dismal weather with sleet. There, toward the evening, 633 White-naped Cranes, 80 Red-crowned Cranes and one Common Crane were counted, together with 33 Whooper Swans and around 2400 Mallards plus a few other ducks.

The full bird lists can be seen at:

  1. Sangam Wetland https://ebird.org/checklist/S101455682
  2. Along route 37 Paju to Jeonseok https://ebird.org/checklist/S101456299
  3. In Cheolwon: https://ebird.org/checklist/S101459364
Geese roosting in Sangam Wetland in the first morning light © Bernhard Seliger
A family of White-naped Cranes Grus vipio at the frozen Imjin River © Bernhard Seliger
Red-crowned Cranes Grus japonensis and a Leopard Cat Prionailurus bengalensis. The cranes completely ignored the cat. © Bernhard Seliger
White-naped Cranes Grus vipio, Red-crowned Cranes Grus japonensis, Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus and Mallards Anas platyrhynchos © Bernhard Seliger
Common Crane Grus grus with White-naped Cranes Grus vipio, two Red-crowned Cranes Grus japonensis and Mallards Anas platyrhynchos © Bernhard Seliger

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