Wintering birds arrive in Songjiho, Goseong, October 12-14

Dr. Bernhard Seliger (Birds Korea, Hanns-Seidel-Foundation)

Songjiho is one of two large lagoon lakes in Goseong County, the other is Hwajinpo. One short evening stroll and two morning counts brought some nice views of arriving winter migrants. Highlights were an Eurasian Eagle Owl hunting along the shore of the lake in the evening, an American Wigeon and more than fifty Mandarin ducks, as well as an Osprey and two Whiskered Terns hunting at the lake in the mornings, which is rich in diverse fish of the brackish water.

As everywhere in the county and country, Songjiho is extremely disturbed, by a large national road (“Asian Highway no. 6”, leading hypothetically through North Korea to Russia and finally Belarus), plus adjacent smaller roads used by cars and pedestrians, plus a new bicycle lane. In front of the lake since many years a spaceship-like structure and a big parking lot are trying (mostly in vain) to attract visitors, but the bicycle way is used from the very early morning.

The high level of disturbance means that birds are crowded in the less disturbed back area, but frequently they are moving anyway. It was good to see Greater Scaups, Tufted Ducks, Common Pochard, Spot-billed Ducks, Mallards, Coots, Eurasian Teals, Eurasian Wigeon, a single Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe and other winter visitors.

A link to the complete list can be found at e-bird:,

(Thanks go as always to Dr. Nial Moores for help with bird ID!)

Songjiho in early morning light. The swans are, unfortunately, from plastic – in the past, Goseong’s lagoon lakes were famous for wintering swans, but ever-increasing development and disturbance are making them less and less suitable habitat. (© Bernhard Seliger)
A Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus hunting over the lake. (© Bernhard Seliger)
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida (© Bernhard Seliger)
New ways through the wetland area to the sea are attractive for human visitors, but also add to disturbance – nearby, the Deep Sea Water factory and a resort bring many people and cars to the area. (© Bernhard Seliger)
Mandarin Ducks Aix galericulata in the front, Eurasian Coots Fulica atra in the background. Wintering birds use only small, less disturbed areas in the lakes Western side, away from the highway and parking lot. (© Bernhard Seliger)
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea (© Bernhard Seliger)

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