Bird Report by Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
This is the final part of the summary of our month-long visit to South Korea between 12th December, 2011 and 10th January, 2012 and involves the region around Kim Sonas’s family home in Waegwan, Kyongbuk province. We birded parts of this area almost every day when not off touring, a total of nine dates.
The most striking thing was how the Four Rivers Project has further degraded the Nakdong river here, compounded by even more road construction and other schemes along its banks. On previous visits I have regularly watched this stretch of river, and tried to do so again on the first two or three days, but it has become so poor that river watching soon became just occasional cursory scans from the bund near the family house. All my local birding subsequently took place in the forested hills and streams to the east of the river.
The bird community in these forests appeared little different to previous visits. White-backed, Great Spotted, Grey-headed and Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers were all frequently noted, Eastern Buzzards and Eurasian Sparrowhawks and most common resident species appeared to be in reasonably good numbers.
Singles of Cinereous Vulture, Hazel Grouse and Pallas’s Rosefinch were all species I had not previously recorded in the area. Many winter migrant species were, however, noticeably few: not a single thrush, few Siberian Accentors and just one Siskin. Olive-backed Pipits, Bramblings and Rustic Buntings were not uncommon.
Numbers of birds in the farmland habitats seemed poor with fewer Skylarks and Buff-bellied Pipits than normally noted, definitely fewer Magpies and fewer and smaller bunting flocks.
On December 24th we visited the Hooded Crane area at Haepyong, near Gumi: another depressing experience. The whole ‘crane sanctuary’ area was a massive construction site. After much searching we finally found just four Hooded Cranes on the shore of an island just downriver from the new dam.
On Christmas Day, just north of Daegu, a couple of Eurasian Hoopoes was an unexpected find.