Bird News from Nial Moores, Bernhard Seliger and Choi Hyun-Ah
A rapid survey of birds and habitats in Goseong County (including by boat between close to the NLL and the headland off Geojin; around Hwajin Po; and from the road to and the area around Geonbong Temple) was conducted on June 24th and early on June 25th. The survey found a total of 59 species, and was conducted for the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Korea) by Nial Moores, Bernhard Seliger and Choi Hyun-Ah as part of research on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development close to the inner border region of Korea.
Some of the main habitats in Goseong County: sea (off Daejin harbour, with one of the Arctic Loons just visible!); reed-bed at Hwajin Po (with additional image of singing Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis © Bernhard Seliger); and forest behind Geonbong Temple (home of several of the Buddha’s teeth…) © Nial Moores
A full species list and commentary has been provided to the Hanns Seidel Foundation. Although limited in scope the survey provides further evidence that the value of the DMZ to biodiversity conservation extends beyond its fences, with an obvious “spill over” of birds into adjacent areas. In addition, it is clear too that forest restoration efforts of past decades in Goseong County have benefitted several forest and forest edge bird species.
In addition to some “expected species” (including 13 Streaked Shearwater and eight Temminck’s Cormorant at sea / along the coast; small numbers of Intermediate and Great Egrets in rice-fields; singing Oriental Reed Warbler at several sites and a Stejneger’s Stonechat in reed-beds at Hwajin Po; and two Chinese Sparrowhawk, a Northern Hawk-cuckoo and a Chestnut-eared Bunting heard near the temple complex), selected highlights included:
- Arctic Loon. One in non-breeding and one in partial breeding plumage were seen from the boat on the 24th. There are fewer than ten records of this species in the mid-summer months in the ROK. One has been seen before in June by birdwatchers in a boat in Goseong County (perhaps in 2013?), suggesting that the species might perhaps be regular here in summer in very small numbers.
- Far Eastern Curlew. One flying south over the sea (at least 5km from shore) on the 24th was clearly on southward migration: autumn is coming!
- Slaty-backed Gull. Four together on the 25th. Although common in winter, this species is very seldom recorded in the ROK in the summer months, with occasional ones or twos summering along the coast. This is probably the largest summer concentration of this species to date in the ROK.
- Ruddy Kingfisher. The presence of three birds heard calling close to Geonbong Temple on the 24th (and the sighting of two along the road near there by Hanns Seidel on the 23rd) suggests the presence of a substantial population of this species in this area.
- Tiger Shrike. Four (three males and one female) were seen along the road between Geonbong Temple and Sonjeong Ri. In addition, a probable was heard near Cheoldong Ri on the 25th. This species has a very local distribution, with most records in the ROK in mid-summer coming from islands and the coastal zone and inland areas close to the DMZ. Of interest, Tomek (2002) describes this species as a “rare breeding species” in the DPRK, but includes three June records in northern Goseong County (one in 1929 and two in 1980).
- Red-billed Starling. Sightings of birds in three areas during the present survey are strongly indicative of local breeding. As the species is now regular in this area in winter, it seems likely it has become resident in this part of Goseong County.
The only (wild!) mammal seen was Siberian Chipmunk Tamias sibiricus: