Gimpo, November 27th

Bird News from Nial Moores with Choi Hyun-Ah and Felix Glenk (Hanns Seidel Foundation, Korea office) and Gimpo City officials

As part of a project initiated by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Korea) and Gimpo City designed to improve understanding of the conservation value of wetlands in the the north of the city (in part, as preparation for discussion with potential future counterparts in the DPRK), habitat and waterbird survey was conducted by NM supported by CHA and FG in and adjacent to the Citizen Controlled Zone (CCZ).

Survey in the CCZ, Gimpo City ©  Felix Glenk

This kind of diversity-rich landscape, with fallow fields and soft-sided vegetated ditches, was widespread in the ROK only 20 years ago, but is now more or less  restricted to “sensitive” and remote areas. Habitat (Top) ©  Nial Moores, and geese flocks (bottom) ©  Felix Glenk

Chinese Grey Shrike Lanius sphenocercus (just visible toward the centre of the image) © Felix Glenk

The problem, however, as in so many areas, is the construction of deep concrete drains and the indiscriminate obliteration of riverine habitat ©  Nial Moores. This all represents a huge financial investment in destroying the nation’s natural and cultural heritage…

A total of 45 bird species were recorded by the survey.

In addition to single Chinese Grey Shrike, Hen Harrier and probable Lesser White-fronted Goose (heard only) and three White-tailed Eagle, highlights included three species of goose in Ramsar-defined internationally important concentrations, with conservative estimates of 2,850 Tundra Bean Goose and 3,250 Greater White-fronted Goose and a minimum count of 1,010 Swan Goose (counted in blocks of 10 in a single scan).

Tundra Bean Geese Anser serrirostris (including one with unusual bill coloration) and Greater White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons, Gimpo © Nial Moores

Swan Geese Anser cygnoides © Nial Moores

Details are bring sought on recent ROK counts of Swan Goose. On present knowledge, this seems likely to be the highest count of the globally Vulnerable species in the ROK for more than a decade.The Swan Goose used to be found in concentrations  of >1,000 quite regularly a little to the east of Gimpo in November and again in March, feeding on freshwater tidal flats along the Han River close to Paju, with e.g. the highest count given in Park Jin Young’s doctoral thesis (completed in 2002) being 1,858, on March 7th 1994; and the most recent count of >1,000 known to us coming from March 2003. Could this be the same flock, relocated from Paju to avoid disturbance, or was this area always used for staging by the species?



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