Bird News by Jason Loghry
I had an amazing weekend beginning with a lecture to a small group of students given by Dr. Nigel Clark, Head of Projects at BTO and very actively involved in Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation. I was invited by the organiser of the event, Kim Han Kyu, of the University Student’s Association of Wild Bird Society. In Dr. Clark’s lecture, he described the severe rate of decline of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, its migration, the limitations and threats on its breeding, staging, and wintering grounds, and details of its conservation measures and challenges. It was a fascinating lecture. Very thankful to Dr. Clark for sharing his valuable time and expertise with us and to Kim Han Kyu for his invitation and organising of the event.
After the lecture, we set off on a birding adventure starting at Yubu-do in the evening and continuing again early the following morning. There were several thousand shorebirds including our target species: the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. After the excitement of finding and observing 3 Spoonies (2 juvenile, and 1 non-breeding), we headed to Cheonsu Bay to see what else was possible.
In route we visited some of the many gut-wrenching sites of the Saemangeum Reclamation area. Although I have visited these sites before, it is always devastating to see this kind of destruction on such a massive scale. Every time I can’t help but ask whether it is reversible. I certainly hope something changes. As for birding, we only visited a short segment of the airport (Saemangeum) and saw very few shorebirds but did see a rather large flock of Greater Scaup with a few Great Crested Grebes in the mix.
Of course, having seen 3 Spoon-billed Sandpipers, I was feeling very satisfied with the trip, but then the heat was severely turned up with the highlight of the afternoon (for some, highlight of the year), a Red-breasted Goose ! This was an extraordinary moment for us and it is the only record of the species in the Republic of Korea. It was epic ! (details here: http://www.birdskoreablog.org/?p=6490).
Other highlights at and around Cheonsu Bay included large flocks of White-fronted and Bean Goose (20,000 +), Hooded Crane (3) <*personal first for the season>, Ruddy Shelduck (5), Temminck’s Stint from afar (4-5) <*personal first>, Wood Sandpiper (2), Marsh Sandpiper (3), Chinese Egret (1), Eurasian Spoonbill (39), Eastern Buzzard (3), Northern Hobby (1), Black-faced Bunting (9), and Bull-headed Shrike (4).