Nial Moores, June 10th 2015
In consideration of the paucity of information on birds in the northern provinces of the Korean Peninsula, the following three reports help confirm seasonal presence / breeding of several species:
1. KCNA News Report, June 1 2015 (via the Hanns Seidel Foundation)
“Oriental Birds from South Nest in DPRK
Pyongyang, June 1 (KCNA) — It has been recently confirmed that birds of tropical genealogy from the Oriental region inhabit in flock the arboretum of the Central Botanical Garden in the DPRK. According to Kim Kyong Jun, section chief of the Zoology Research Institute under the State Academy of Sciences, those birds lived in the area around the lower River Hapjang in the past, but now they are nesting in the wide forest zone along the middle and upper river, numbering at least 1 000. They include Egreta garzetta, Egreta intermedia, Egreta alba, Nyticorax nyticorax and Bubulcus ibis” (sic)
- Black Crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax. According to Tomek (1999), there had been only two records of this species in the DPRK up to 1999 (once in 1925 and once in 1931). However, Duckworth (2006) added another ~16 recent records, including a single roost of 27 birds in October 2004.
- Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus. Tomek (1999) cited 11 records from eight localities, and stated that “their inclusion in the breeding fauna calls for a confirmation”.
- Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia. Tomek (1999) stated that this species is “very rarely come upon in the breeding season”, suggesting that confusion with Great Egret (subspecies modesta) meant that most field observations in the DPRK were unreliable. Duckworth (2006) added several records, including of small flocks, and also concluded that “There remains a clear need for careful documentation of Intermediate Egret records at any season in DPRK”.
- Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Tomek (1999) cited only twelve records, with most observations made out of the breeding season, adding that breeding is “unascertained”.
2. Temmick’s Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus
According to Tomek (1999), “the present status” of this species “needs explanation.” She included records made in North Hamgyeong Province in April, August, September and October, including at Pipa (Rason) in 1996, but no records from this province in the summer months. A pdf of images made during a visit by staff of the Hanns Seidel Foundation to Rason in the first week of June 2015 shows at least eleven Temminck’s Cormorants (of several age groups) loafing on rocks near the Pipa Islet, along with several Spotted Seal.
3. Little Owl Athene noctua
Breeding of the species was confirmed by John O’Dea in Pyongyang in summer 2014. The record, with images, was published in BirdingASIA 22 (2014): 113. The pdf of the account has been kindly provided by JOD, with permission to post also granted by the editors: Little-Owls.
Tomek (1999) listed seventeen records, and suggested that the species is a largely resident species that therefore presumably breeds in the DPRK. Duckworth (2006) added another seven or eight records, and described the species’ status as “enigmatic, perhaps a scarce resident with irregular autumn arrivals”. Little Owl still remains rarely-recorded in the ROK, with the first breeding record confirmed only in 2007 (see: The Birds Korea Bird Review: 2007 by Edelsten et al) and most records made in the winter months.
- Duckworth, J.W. 2006. Records of some bird species hitherto rarely found in DPR Korea. Bull. British Ornithologists’ Club. 2006 126 (4) 253-290.
- Tomek, T. 1999-2002. The birds of North Korea. Acta Zoologica Cracoviensia 42: 1-217; 45:1-235 (in English).
With thanks to Dr Bernhard Seliger (Hanns Seidel Foundation), Mr John O’Dea and editors of BirdingAsia (the must-read Bulletin of the Oriental Bird Club).