Hwaseong Wetlands FNS, November 16-20

A few days back at the Hwaseong Wetlands Flyway Network Site (FNS), conducting a Training Workshop focused on the identification, counting and ecological requirements of geese, swans and ducks and also some survey work. Because of restrictions imposed by the alleged detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in one (?) unspecified (?) wild bird (?) and now at least seven different poultry farms elsewhere in the country (so that is why we call this disease “Poultry Flu”…!), restrictions were imposed preventing the workshop participants from actually looking at any birds.

Learning to separate Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese in the “field” © Nial Moores

Nonetheless, during survey with Birds Korea members Dr Lee Jiwone on 16th (more or less from dawn until dusk in beautiful weather), on 17th at dawn and on 18th in the afternoon and Mr Jung Hanchul on 20th for half a day, (with the rest ruined by dense fog), we counted just over 80,000 waterbirds, with the most numerous species Greater White-fronted Goose (25,000+), Tundra Bean Goose (20,000+), Mallard (17,510), Baikal Teal (c. 3,500) and Eurasian Curlew (2,825). 

Many birders think it is impossible to count geese flocks in flight at dawn…© Nial Moores
until they realise that the only other choice is to try to count geese spread across huge expanses of rice-field © Nial Moores
Almost always hard to see well: two of the survey’s Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus 흰이마기러기 © Nial Moores

In addition to the massive flight of “grey geese” at dawn, highlights included a single adult Snow Goose, four Tundra Swan and four Pied Avocet (both surprisingly rare in the ROK); great views of several Hen Harrier, including two ghost-plumaged adult males; a flock of 25 or so Light-vented Bulbul (still a good count here); and a total of nine globally threatened bird species.

Three of the survey’s four Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta 딋부리장다리물떼새 © Nial Moores

This list included ten or more Vulnerable Lesser White-fronted Goose (with most detected by flight calls on 16th, when three were also seen in rice-fields), single Vulnerable Long-tailed Duck and White-naped Crane, 11 rather tardy Endangered Far Eastern Curlew (most or all in their First Calendar-year), 83 Vulnerable Saunders’s Gull (including one leg-flagged adult, too distant to identify to individual), five Endangered Oriental Stork (including at least two unmarked birds and one bird with leg ring E19 – i.e. the same individual photographed during our survey in mid-August), and two Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill (one with leg ring M66).

White-naped Crane Antigone vipio 재두루미 © Nial Moores

Presumably one of the regularly over-wintering Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis 바다꿩, back in his usual spot © Nial Moores
One of the 11 rather late Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis 알락꼬리마도요 © Nial Moores
And a small section of a flock of 83 Saunders’s Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi 검은머리갈매기 © Nial Moores
Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana 황새 “E19” © Nial Moores
Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor 저어새 on right, with two Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia 노랑부리저어새. Note the smaller size of the Black-faced, with shorter bill and legs, in addition to the more extensive dark “face” © Nial Moores

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