Dr. Bernhard Seliger (Hanns-Seidel-Foundation, Birds Korea)
On December 28 and 29, long walks in Gyeongpo lake and wetland park, Gangneung, as well as a (unfortunately much too short) trip to Daegwallyong Samyang Farm, a combined dairy and wind farm at around 1000 meter altitude (peak at 1140 m), near Pyeongchang. Gyeongpo lake and wetland park is – as most of Korea – thoroughly domesticated, with two roads directly beside most of the lake and numerous walk ways used constantly by people enjoying the fresh winter weather. So, chances for real surprises are not too good. Anyway, a nice assortment of ducks, in particular Mallards, a few Spot-billed Ducks, Greater Scaups, Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Goldeneyes, Teals and Common Mergansers as well as great views of female and male Smews at the lake, together with a White-tailed Eagle, coming late in the evening and staying overnight on the ice – around 4/5 of the lake were frozen. Also, a Peregrine Falcon in the morning, and Common Kestrel, Eastern Buzzard and Upland Buzzard hunting in the adjacent fields. Other birds included Coots and Common Moorhens, Great Crested Grebes and Little Grebes, a large number of Eurasian Larks (two big flocks and many single birds flying over the area), and small numbers of tits, buntings, among them a Little Bunting, White Wagtails and a Japanese Wagtail, Bull-headed Shrikes, three Naumann´s Thrushes etc.
The complete checklist (49 species) for Gyeongpo Lake can be found here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S124881703
Daegwallyeong Samyang Farm is a short ride from Pyeongchang junction, but it goes up into the moutains, and good winter tires are a must (which I did not have). On the top, roads are snowy and icy, though to some extent cleared from heavy snow. In a mostly frozen stream, in one of the few open spots there were three lovely Brown Dippers. Good views of Pallas´s Rosefinches, as well as of Coal Tits, Marsh Tits, Japanese (Great) Tits, and Varied Tits, White-backed Woodpeckers and other birds. I am sure a longer walk, also to the top, would have brought more interesting views…all in all, a great trip to the loveliest part of Korea, Gangwondo.
The complete list for Daegwallyeong (16 species) can be found here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S124882596