Bird News from Nial Moores with Park Hea-Jeong (Hwaseong KFEM) and Jung Hanchul
We conducted the ninth waterbird survey as part of the Hwaseong City – EAAFP Hwaseong Wetlands Project between October 28th and 30th, with highlights that included tens of thousands of grey geese and thousands of diving duck, a Snow Goose, at least three Ferruginous Duck, a flock of 26 Hooded Crane on 28th and a White-tailed Eagle on 29th and 30th.
A few of the more notable records:
- Snow Goose Anser caerulescens 흰기러기. An adult on 29th. One has been seen at this wetland in two or more previous winters apparently.
- Tundra Bean Goose Anser serrirostris 큰기러기. At least 27,500 counted.
- Hybrid Aythya. One male showing several Baer’s Pochard features including large head and bill, dark green head and (red-)brown breast, and stripey flanks, was seen on 28th. However, the bird also showed extensive grey in the upperparts, and almost entirely white flanks suggesting this was either a hybrid with some Baer’s influence (Baer’s x Greater Scaup???), or instead might have been the hybrid offspring between two or more other species altogether. A quick look at the excellent Bird hybrids website did not find any obvious matches. Opinions, as always, warmly welcomed!
- Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca 적갈색흰죽지 . Although assessed as V1 in the ROK by Birds Korea (meaning 9 or fewer records each year) three males were seen on 28th, with a possible fourth seen too distantly to confirm.
- Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa bohaii 흑꼬리도요. Three of the recently-described large and very long-billed bohaii subspecies were seen on 28th. One of these had an oddly deformed bill. Although melanuroides is by far the commoner subspecies in Korea, a second type of Black-tailed Godwit was added to the Birds Korea Checklist back in 2013 (as nominate limosa “Data Deficient”), because a small number of obviously larger, longer-billed less richly-coloured individuals, more closely resembling the nominate form than melanuroides, were seen annually. Somewhat surprisingly, the presence of this taxon in Korea was omitted from the otherwise excellent paper published in Ibis.
- Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris 붉은어깨도요. At least 473 were counted on the 28th, in a flock also containing 25-50 Red Knot. These are the highest numbers of either species we have recorded during the project so far. 30,000 Great Knot can be present during northward migration, however.
- Nordmann’s Greenshank Tringa guttifer 청다리도요사촌. One, apparently a 1cy progressing from juvenile plumage into non-breeding grey, was still present on 28th and 29th.
- Chinese Grey Shrike Lanius sphenocercus 물때까치. Two or three present.
- Bluethroat Luscinia svecica 흰눈썹울새. Two were heard calling and seen sitting up on wires over a very bird-rich patch of reed on 30th.
- Ochre-rumped Bunting Emberiza yessoensis 쇠검은머리쑥새. Up to 15 were present in the same fields where the species was found in territory during the summer. As we are now well into the migration period of this species, it is hard to know whether these were locally-born birds, or migrants from afar.
The next survey will be in mid-November. Already, since we started the surveys in late June, we have recorded at least 95,000 individual waterbirds (based on a summing of peak counts of each of the 100 waterbird species so far recorded), helping to confirm the continuing outstanding national and international importance of the Hwaseong Wetlands to biodiversity.