World Migratory Bird Race – Hanns Seidel Team Korea (Part 1)

Part 1: Wetland near Paju book city, Paju ricefields North of Gongneungcheon

Birds news from Dr Bernhard Seliger (Hanns Seidel Foundation Korea and Birds Korea lifetime member) with Johann and Joseph Seliger

The first leg of the World Migratory Bird Race of Hanns Seidel Team Korea was a family affair, with my two sons Johann and Joseph. We checked the wetland near Paju book city as well as rice fields north of Gongneungcheon (stream).

Arriving around 6.30 (already a little late for roosting birds) at the wetland near Paju book city, we observed among others the following species:

  • 3 Ruddy Shelducks (together with six, we later saw in Songdo, this makes you wonder what they are still doing here – they seemed healthy birds, certainly not breeding, suggesting that at maybe least occasionally they seem to become residents here
  • only one Blackfaced Spoonbill, taking off around 7 a.m.
  • a single Common Snipe
  • Common Sandpiper
  • A pair of Common Kingfishers
  • At least 8 Oriental Reedwarblers
  • Around 25 Spotbilled ducks, and single Grey Herons, White Egrets, several Great Cormorants

Afterwards, we went to the Northern side of Gongneungcheon river, through a still good area of rice fields, now full of water and in almost everyone of which waders could be observed. Notable are:

  • Around 35 Common Greenshanks, the most frequent wader
  • At least 25 Wood Sandpipers
  • 3 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers
  • At least 4 Terek Sandpipers (at the banks of Gongneungchong)
  • 3 Whimbrels
  • Around 15 Common Sandpipers
  • One Spotted Redshank
  • A number of Grey Herons, Great, Intermediate and Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and two Chinese Pond Herons
  • Barn Swallows and at least two Red-rumped Swallows

The incredible diversity and richness of rice field habitats could best be seen in the one relatively undisturbed part, close to the royal tomb in Paju, Jangneung, where a small patch of rice fields is surrounding by old trees and no roads are near. One policy challenge for the future of Korea is to re-create such patches, allowing wildlife at least to thrive there, when on a larger scale (like in the case of the new road built across Gongneungchong) deterioration of habitats goes on. Some NGO already started to try to acquire land to manage it sustainably, but this cannot be the solution. Rather, governments and land-owners should try to find a system where eco-system services aiming at maintaining biodiversity are compensated appropriately, to reduce incentives to change land-use.

Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna Ferruguinea What do they still do in South Korea? © Bernhard Seliger
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis © Bernhard Seliger
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola © Bernhard Seliger
Black-faced Spoonbills Platalea minor feeding in the rice fields © Bernhard Seliger
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus © Bernhard Seliger
Wetland and Rice fields near Jangneung Royal Tomb in Paju – a small, but lovely spot for birds (and bird watchers) © Bernhard Seliger
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Sinosuthera webbiana © Bernhard Seliger
Birding in windy weather…(from left: Bernhard, Johann and Joseph Seliger) © Johann Seliger

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