“Birdy places in Korea” – Hahoe village in Andong, North Gyeongsang (30-31 March)

Dr. Bernhard Seliger (HSF Seoul and Birds Korea) with family

Growing up in the German countryside, I thought it is normal to have birds singing loudly from 4 a.m. in the spring and summer mornings. The strength of the bird concert was not only due to a diversity of species, but also to the sheer amount of birds, with all gardens filled with nests of the more common species of thrushes, finches etc. In Korea, this “birdiness” is not easy to find, with the exception of certain wintering sites and nature reserves. Even in the countryside, often there is rather poor diversity and the never-ending sound of roads easily outmatches the songs of birds. But, luckily there are exceptions. One such exception is Hahoe village near Andong. One of the most famous “clan villages” (here, n particular from the Ryu clan), it is a pleasant small village of traditional houses, many of them straw-thatched, and from three sides surrounded by Nakdong river. The reputation, in particular of the Andong mask dance, leads to a massive inflow of tourists every year, but with a system of a parking lot and shopping area outside the village and a shuttle bus, it did not affect too much the village itself. This might be the main reason, why the village is one of the really “birdy” places in the country. All houses have small or bigger gardens, the river bank is mostly original and there are lots of small patches of unused land with bushes, reeds or just small vegetation ideal for birds.

Though these birds (in the village) are not real rarities, there is a pleasant mixture of all kinds of birds. In late March, these included as well typical winter visitors like hawfinches, siskin, brambling, Chinese grosbeaks, and in the river still Common Mergansers, Mallards, Falcated Ducks, as well as passant migrants like Black-winged stilts and summer visitors like Barn swallows, Eurasian Hoopoe (if it not wintering even), or Little Ringed Plovers and Common Sandpiper. Along the village, probably due to the sufficient amount of old trees in the surroundings, were at least 10 pairs, probably many more, of Mandarin ducks.

Visitors can stay in traditional Korean houses (hanoak) with varying prices and degrees of luxury. And here, the morning is also filled with bird song – a pleasant way to wake up!

A full list of observations can be found at:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S106525280 (March 30)

https://ebird.org/checklist/S106526938 (March 31)

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops (© Bernhard Seliger)
Mandarin ducks Aix galericulata (© Bernhard Seliger)
Hawfinches Cocothraustes coccothraustes (© Bernhard Seliger)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus (© Bernhard Seliger)
Hahoe, a traditional clan village, from three sides surrounded by Nakdong River (© Bernhard Seliger)
Chinese Grosbeak Eophona migratoria (© Bernhard Seliger)
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius (© Bernhard Seliger)
Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus (© Bernhard Seliger)

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