Bird survey news from Dr Nial Moores and Dr Bernhard Seliger (Hanns Seidel Foundation, Korea)
Female Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus confusus: one of the commonest landbirds seen in Rason during the present survey © Nial Moores
Between July 1st and 6th, we had another fascinating research trip to Rason in the far northeast of Korea (close to the border with China and Russia), with our main focus on the poorly-delineated “Sonbong Migratory Bird Reserve” (which we last surveyed back in March 2014). Thanks to support from local offices and strong central encouragement from MOLEP (with additional understanding generated by the wide TV exposure back in May of the wetlands and biodiversity conservation workshops), we were able to spend long uninterrupted blocks of time surveying a wide diversity of habitats that included:
Deep bays, large lakes, ponds and patches of reedbed, grassland and open woodland…
Intensively managed arable land …and
Regenerating mixed forest in the hills (as here at Sangyansan, above Najin City, rising to about 520 masl) © Nial Moores.
Although early July is probably the least birdy time of year in Korea – and we failed to find any of our most-ambitious target species (Baer’s Pochard, Streaked Reed Warbler or Jankowski’s Bunting…) – we nonetheless logged a total of 125 species, with several of these perhaps confirmed breeding in Korea for the first time.
Selected highlights included Brown Shrike found breeding commonly (even abundantly); locally high densities of Black-browed Reed Warbler, Chestnut-eared Bunting, Pallas’s Leaf Warbler and Siberian Blue Robin; young Gadwall, Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank, Black-headed Gull and Chinese Grey Shrike seen attended by adults; Black-necked Grebe, Eurasian Bittern and Thick-billed Warbler found in breeding habitat; several hundred Rhinoceros Auklet and a couple of dozen Spectacled Guillemot seen on the sea, joined by over-summering flocks of Red-necked Grebe and Arctic Loon; single Swinhoe’s Rail heard and Caspian Tern seen; one probable Manchurian Reed Warbler seen; and 81 Hill Pigeon counted in a single scan.
Some of our notable observations in the main wetland habitats included:
Gadwall Anas strepera with ducklings © Bernhard Seliger
Recently-fledged Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, still attended by adults © Nial Moores
Recently-fledged Common Redshank Tringa totanus © Nial Moores
Adult Common Redshank, perhaps of subspecies terrignotae?, attending recently-fledged young © Nial Moores
Black-browed Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps © Nial Moores
In grassland and wetland edge:
Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata © Nial Moores
Juvenile Chinese Grey Shrike Lanius sphenocercus (after begging this lizard off an adult) © Nial Moores
And in drier woodland:
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus confusus © Nial Moores
Pallas’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus © Bernhard Seliger
A fuller annotated checklist, with additional images, is in preparation.
NOTE: Birds Korea is dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats in Korea and the wider Yellow Sea Eco-region. We are a small non-political conservation organisation that aims to provide best information on birds and their habitats to decision-makers, to help inform the conservation process. Birds Korea has an MOU with the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Korea). Dr Nial Moores of Birds Korea was contracted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation to help lead this bird research as part of a much-needed longer-term wetland conservation program supported by e.g. the intergovernmental Ramsar Convention Secretariat and several other international conservation organisations, with the aim of conserving Korean biodiversity in ways that can benefit local communities.