Survey in Yu-do (islet), January 2021

Dr. Hyun-Ah Choi and Dr. Bernhard Seliger (both Hanns Seidel Foundation, Birds Korea lifetime members)

On January 12 2021, the first survey of the area around Siam wetland and Yudo Island in the Han River estuary in this year took place. The survey started in benign conditions, but in the afternoon a snow storm started and made further surveying finally impossible (and brought a long journey back home to Seoul). While the number of geese encountered were much smaller than in a survey a month earlier, partly due to the difficult counting conditions, there were 13 Cinereous vultures and 11 White-tailed Eagles counted, for both species a record count in the survey series, which started in 2018.

Another highlight was a single Oriental stork at Siam wetland.

Passerines including more than 50 Rustic Buntings, more than 60 Yellow-throated buntings, among them a flock of forty birds, Pallas’s Reed Buntings, Meadow Buntings, Bramblings and Hawfinches. 

Just this week, Gyeonggi Province announced that it will start the feasibility study for a bridge to span the Han River toward Kaesong (Gaesong) in case of lasting Korean détente or even unification. While this is a heartfelt wish that relations between the two Koreas should improve, it would be sad to see such a development. While the original plan to build the bridge through Yu-do (islet) has been canceled, still a bridge through the surrounding wetlands (plus the broad road leading to it) would irretrievably destroy the ecological value of the area. There is a reason, why the area adjacent to the DMZ became a sanctuary for so many species, namely the lack of large infrastructure projects. There is already a three to four lane road on the East side of the river, Jaju-ro (“Liberty street”). An additional road project should be carefully considered and rejected if it impacts the habitat of endangered species found in the area, which include many more than the above-mentioned raptors and storks.

Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus © Bernhard Seliger. They are winter visitors and are migrating in the summer to Mongolia. Sometimes, due to artificial feeding, they are heavily concentrated in places like Paju and Cheolwon, but also further South. This year, maybe due to an end to feeding to prevent the spread of Avian Influenza, they seem to be less concentrated.
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus © Bernhard Seliger.
Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana and Grey Heron Cinerea ardea © Bernhard Seliger
Great Egret Ardea alba © Bernhard Seliger.
Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus © Bernhard Seliger
Geese in the snow…© Bernhard Seliger

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