Hwaseong Wetlands Flyway Network Site: March 10th-12th

Bird News from Nial Moores and Jung Hanchul, with Lee Jiwone on 12th

Impressive spring migration revealed by three more days of survey in the Hwaseong Wetlands FNS, conducted as part of the ongoing Hwaseong Wetlands Project led by the EAAFP Secretariat and Hwaseong City…

Bottom end of the Hwaseong Reclamation Lake © Jung Hanchul (Gyeonggi KFEM, and happily now also a Birds Korea member!)
Far Eastern Curlew 알락꼬리마도요, Hwaseong Wetlands FNS © Nial Moores

In all, more than 37,000 waterbirds logged – with rarest in the Korean context two male Long-tailed Duck together and one or more of eight Oriental Stork bill-clattering; most impressive numbers-wise Common Goldeneye, with 2,130 on the 10th; and most inspirational, migrating families of Whooper Swans watched swerving at the sound of a plane, and the first arrivals of southern shorebirds, with a single Great Knot and at least 83 Far Eastern Curlew, many droop-winged and looking very skinny when compared with their pot-bellied cousins, the Eurasian Curlews, feeding alongside them.

Long-tailed Ducks 바다꿩, Hwaseong Wetlands FNS (with Smew and Common Goldeneye) © Nial Moores
Whooper Swan 큰고니, Hwaseong Wetlands FNS © Nial Moores
Departing flock of Whooper Swan 큰고니 – please have safe travels! © Jung Hanchul
Globally Endangered Oriental Stork 황새 © Jung Hanchul

Other species of note included up to five Upland Buzzard still; a single Eurasian Bittern; a high count of 5,015 Baikal Teal; displaying Saunders’s Gulls; and reedbeds full of singing Chinese Penduline Tits and Pallas’s Reed Buntings.

The Hwaseong Wetlands have long been known as internationally important for waterbirds. Our surveys, conducted over more dates than other projects, have helped to reveal just how important they are. Since the Project started back in June, we have now counted more than 130,000 waterbirds here, and found a total of 20 waterbird species in Ramsar-defined internationally important concentrations.

There is no doubt: the Hwaseong Wetlands FNS is one of the most diverse and important wetlands for conservation in the nation.

The Project has also helped raise awareness of this huge importance, through meetings and workshops, by supporting documentaries and media interviews, through last December’s international symposium, and through the publication of a major report last week.

And yet there are now plans for a massive hotel resort development right next to the main shorebird roost; and as in so many sensitive areas nationwide, the bulldozers and container trucks have also burst into their full pre-election gear: more concrete and dust, more greenhouse gas emissions, and more and more pressures on the nation’s rapidly vanishing wildlife.

What is needed for this great nation to evolve – finally – out of the current generations-old “concrete it and they will come” mindset, and for more of us to seek a genuinely more sustainable, less destructive embrace of the natural world?

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