Hwaseong Wetlands FNS, December 16th and 17th

Bird News from Nial Moores with Jung Hanchul (Gyeonggi KFEM).

The eleventh and last survey this year of the Hwaseong Wetlands Project, an initiative developed by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership and Hwaseong City, with survey-work conducted by Birds Korea and KFEM.

In sub-zero conditions still much to be seen, with 51,000 waterbirds counted, including two newly-recorded waterbird species for the Wetlands Project: two Common Gull and a single stunning male Long-tailed Duck, perhaps here for his fourth winter. These are the 107th and 108th waterbird species recorded here since the Wetlands Project began in June.

On 16th, about a third of the Hwaseong Reclamation lake was covered in ice © Nial Moores; on the 17th, with a dawn temperature of -9C and not a breath of wind, probably 98% was…What do the birds that depend on this wetland do when there is no open water left?
Always distant, this Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis 바다꿩 (fittingly known as “Ice Duck” in Japanese) was perhaps back here for his fourth winter in a row © Nial Moores

 On 16th, in addition to thousands of Tundra Beans, Greater White-fronteds and rafts of duck (including 158 Ruddy Shelduck and 160 Smew,  looking especially resplendent in the hard bright light) we found between five and seven Lesser White-fronted Geese, 16 White-tailed Eagle (sadly no sign of the Steller’s from earlier in the month, though), 1-2 Upland Buzzard, 138 Saunders’s Gull, up to eight Oriental Stork, and less spectacular but still noteworthy this far north in mid-December, two Dusky Warbler.

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea 황오리 © Jung Hanchul: beautiful!
A family party of globally Vulnerable Lesser White-fronted Geese Anser erythropus 흰이마기러기, with two adults in the lead and a juvenile in tow…© Jung Hanchul
One of 16 White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla 흰꼬리수리 seen on the 16th © Jung Hanchul
Globally Endangered Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana 황새 © Jung Hanchul: apparently a good winter for seeing them in the ROK…

On 17th, in addition to more search of tidal flat areas, we spent rather longer on a boardwalk in a wet reed-bed, enjoying flight views of a Eurasian Bittern and good long looks at parties of Common Reed Buntings, Pallas’s Reed Buntings and Chinese Penduline Tits. In the same area we found another two Dusky Warbler. Based on the area of potential habitat, it seems likely that dozens are attempting to over-winter here.

Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus pyrrhulina 검은머리쑥새 © Nial Moores
Pallas’s Reed Bunting Emberiza pallasi 북방검은머리쑥새 © Nial Moores: this bird had a striking call and looked very warm-toned…which subspecies?
Chinese Penduline Tit Remiz consobrinus 스윈호오목눈이 © Nial Moores
Tidal flats of the Hwaseong FNS© Jung Hanchul. Local fishers, globally Vulnerable Saunders’s Gulls 검은머리갈매기 and Dunlin 민물도요 to the backdrop of a “power-plant” built on “reclaimed” tidal flat.
Conservation is about values and the choices that all of us make.

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