Siam Wetland and Hangang Estuary around Yu islet, February 18, 2021

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

Another survey in the starting migration season, though still bitterly cold with – 11° C in the morning and only slowly warming up. Along the Han river, several flocks of hundreds of gulls, mostly Common gulls and Black-tailed gulls, moved constantly on – we managed to count only a very few of them, but had we stayed there only to focus on them, it would have soon been thousands. Also, much movements of thrushes, which usually used – like some other birds, e.g. tits, buntings, but also Oriental Turtledove – the fence at the South side of Han river and the small bank below for resting and feeding. Raptors knew this obviously, too – three times we could see Eurasian Sparrowhawks in gliding very lowly over the bank to search for birds feeding there.

There were still around 2000 geese in the area. Typical for the last stretch of the winter, when food in the more remote and maybe safer areas far from people gets scarce, there were many smaller groups of geese scattered in the small fields just adjacent to houses and industrial buildings, a sight almost never possible earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, pressure from human activity continues to build up: the fitting of trenches with pre-fabricated concrete blocks goes on, as does the building of new hothouses, ginseng fields, the digging out of riverbeds, and even a part of the Hangang sides. Feral cats are found everywhere roaming the area, and disturbance by tourists increases, too. The conflicting goals of maintaining healthy environment to be enjoyed and to serve as a preserve of bio-diversity and at the same time development of whatever is possible is not easy to solve. And, should one day the border totward the North open, this pressure will even multiply. And one of the really good measures, the watering of rice-fields offseason (Munon) discontinued, unfortunately.

Yellow-throated bunting Emberiza elegans © Bernhard Seliger
The cormorant colony on Yudo islet in Han river is rapidly filling up with arriving Great cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo © Bernhard Seliger
First, nests on the southward looking slope are occupied. Species starting breeding later, like Great Egrets, Grey Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons and Blackfaced Spoonbills use nests in trees more in the densely wooded area, and maybe also the northward facing area (which cannot be surveyed, being in the military area) © Bernhard Seliger
Birds don’t know borders… a Naumann’s Thrush Turdus naumanni in the fence separating South Korea at the Hangang from the North © Bernhard Seliger
Vinous-throated parrotbills Sinusothera webbiana © Bernhard Seliger
Siam wetland under pressure. Thousands of geese are wintering in the Siam wetland area, partly because they are fed there. But the picture shows the intense pressure from people, through the ever-growing city on the other side of the Han river. (Note, that geese are real, but cranes are plastic cranes in this pictures…) © Bernhard Seliger

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