Bird News from Nial Moores, Bernhard Seliger, Baek Seung-Kwang, Lee Su-Young and Jang Ryang (with a team from the EAAFP Secretariat on 11th).
Funded variously on different dates by the Hanns Seidel Foundation and Yeoncheon County, detailed data from this research along the rivers and in the rice-fields of the Biosphere Reserve will be contained in reports that will be made freely available to Birds Korea members after publication. Selected birding highlights, in addition to Ramsar-defined internationally important concentrations of Taiga Bean Goose, Greater Whiter-fronted Goose, Red-crowned Crane and White-naped Crane, from research in mid-February in the Yeoncheon Imjin River Biosphere Reserve included:
Cackling Goose Branta hutchinsii taverneri 캐나다기러기. One in a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese on 8th (with ID from images supported on FB by Richard Crossley). This appears to be about only the fourth (?) record of taverneri in the ROK.
Greylag Goose Anser anser 회색기러기. One distinctively odd-looking, worn-plumaged Second or Third Calendar-year (?), perhaps with some hybrid influence, in a flock of Greater White-fronted Geese on 11th. Odd features included obvious dark on the nail (shown by only between 1 bird in 10 or 20 in images of “Siberian” Greylag in Cornell’s Birds of the World image gallery); slight orangey tones basally to the otherwise pink bill; and very worn, brown tones on the nape and upperparts (only shared with birds in very few online images, mostly in March or mid-summer). Wild Greylag is genuinely rare in Korea (until recently, the species was not recorded annually – though there have been perhaps 5-7 this winter alone); and although domesticated Greylags are sometimes found in the wild, this bird did not show any of the expected anomalous structural or plumage features of a domesticated bird. What are the odds of a “pure” wild Greylag showing three odd features like this, however? Comments are welcome!
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus 큰고니. Two on the Imjin River on 10th hinted at the start of northward migration (as did increases in several duck species).
Scaly-sided Merganser Mergus squamatus 호사비오리. Three females in total (tentatively aged as one adult and two First-winters).
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris 낭비둘기. The highest count was 32 in the CCZ on 12th, by Birds Korea Yeoncheon. Yeoncheon Imjin River Biosphere Reserve currently supports the largest and only completely self-sustaining flock in the ROK (even though the species is fairly common in the DPRK).
Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus 흰목물떼새. Found along two rivers at several locations, including one pair apparently starting courtship display – no doubt stimulated by spring-like weather (with a lowest low of -12C, soaring to a high of +10C on 11th).
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos 검독수리. One adult on 8th.
As elsewhere this almost snowless winter (so far), we saw very small numbers of landbirds – though did enjoy excellent views of hordes of Vinous-throated Parrotbills, and flocks of Meadow, Rustic and Yellow-throated Buntings.