Bird News from Nial Moores
Meeting up with the Nakdong Eco-School team (working full-time in the Nakdong, at present under the auspices of Birds Korea), took the boat kindly captained by Mr. Jeon Shi-Jin to undertake a shorebird survey. The same areas were covered as in past research (including during the national shorebird survey, on May 13th 2008), with the additional aim of finding Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Unfortunately, habitat here continues to be fragmented and disturbed: construction continues close to and around the estuary, and city-financed “cleaning” activities on the outer islands were obviously causing much disturbance, especially to nesting Little Tern and some shorebirds. No Spoon-billed Sandpipers were found (although apparently three were photographed here a week earlier by Mo In-Ho via Kim Hyang-Ee).
Under hazy blue skies and with moderate easterlies, a total of only 1,491 shorebirds of 16 species were found. The three most numerous were Dunlin (1,160), Sanderling (153) and Red-necked Stint (80). This compares with 2,525 shorebirds counted here in mid-May 2008, with substantially higher numbers of most species recorded during that count (especially Red-necked Stint and Terek Sandpiper), with the exception of Dunlin (1,373) and Sanderling(93). Little Terns, which breed in the estuary in large numbers, were not counted, but Common Terns were – with an estimated 1,100 present (all longipennis). Other species of conservation importance / note included five Black-faced Spoonbill, a Chinese Egret, the personal first Oriental Reed Warbler of the year, and several lingering over-winterers, including three Common Shelduck, two Red-breasted Merganser, a Whooper Swan and a Vega Gull. Outstanding highlight in terms of rarity was a Greater Crested Tern seen (and extremely poorly / perhaps unrecognizably digiscoped) flying west probably 2km offshore (with identification based primarily on the striking upperwing contrast and its bulky size when compared directly with other terns at a similar range). Although the species is still extremely rarely reported in Korean waters, one was also present in Busan in late summer / autumn of 2012 and like most seabird species seems likely to be overlooked.