Storks and geese at Siam Wetland and around Yudo Island, Gimpo Hangang Estuary area on February 4, 2020

Bird news by Prof. Dr. Amael Borzée, Dr. Hyun-Ah Choi, Dr. Bernhard Seliger

Hanns Seidel Foundation Korea in cooperation with Gimpo City since December 2018 carried out regular surveys of Yudo in a project lasting until last summer. This project confirmed the importance of the area for migratory birds and surveying is going on more irregularly afterwards. The first survey of the Siam Wetland and Yudo area at Han River in 2020 brought great numbers of geese and some interesting other finds. Near the bird shelter of the local Wild Bird Conservation Society, where the society put up mock cranes and feeds the birds, large numbers of geese (larger than recorded during one year of surveys before) could be seen, probably at least 4000 geese at a few concentrated rice fields, mostly Greater White-Fronted Geese (around 60-70 percent), plus mostly Tundra Been Geese, with at least one smaller flock of Taiga Been Geese and a single Snow Goose among them. Also, a non-banded stork was roosting there, and according to a local birder a second stork was in the area.

Other notable finds include:

  • A single Short-eared Owl hunting in the rice fields.
  • 10 White-tailed Sea eagles in the area, with 3 roosting at Han River on sandbanks, and the others up in the air.
  • Several larger, often mixed flocks of buntings, including several dozens of Rustic buntings.
  • Around 120 Great Cormorants were roosting near Yudo Islet, one of the largest breeding colonies of Great Cormorants in South Korea, in full breeding plumage, but no breeding activity has started yet.

The biggest positive surprise was some change in landscape management: on this block we often report on the ongoing destruction of natural landscapes, piping of streams, concreting of trenches etc. This is also visible in the surveyed area in several places, including a new concrete road along the Han river instead of a former, absolutely adequate dirt track.

But the positive surprise came when we entered the last part of the survey, just opposite of Gangwha Island. There, this year large parts of the rice fields have been flooded. While currently, only a few Pintails, Mallards and Spot-billed Ducks used the places, and some were solidly frozen, this creates and ideal territory for birds later during migration. It might be related to a slightly more positive attitude local communities have of hosting migratory birds and a certain pride they take in new designations of protected areas. Hopefully, this positive development will go on!

Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana © Bernhard Seliger
Mixed flock of Greater White-Fronted Geese Anser albifrons and Tundra Bean Geese Anser serrirostris © Bernhard Seliger
Snow Goose Anser caerulescens © Bernhard Seliger
Short-eared owl Asio flammeus…unfortunately, only from the back…© Amael Borzée
Long-tailed Rosefinch Carpodacus sibiricus © Amael Borzée
A new bicycle way (“peace road”) has been marked along the Han river border area; this requires careful visitor management, if it should not lead to greater disturbance for birds in the area. © Bernhard Seliger
In the area facing Gangwha-do (hills in the background) a large rice-field area has been flooded, creating an excellent habitat in particular during migration © Bernhard Seliger
Korean hare Lepus coreanus © Amael Borzée

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