Yeoncheon Imjin River Biosphere Reserve: Long-billed Plover Survey (March 28th-April 3rd)

Bird News from Dr Nial Moores with Ms. Lee Su-Young, PhD candidate/ Birds Korea Intern Park Shinyeong and Yeoncheon Birds Korea Director Baek Seung-Kwang (also with Dr Mimi Kessler and Prof. Matt Toomey on 2nd).

All images copyright of Birds Korea.

While more analysis is required, survey focused on the Nationally Vulnerable Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus 흰목물떼새 by a Birds Korea team along c. 77km of the three main rivers in the Biosphere Reserve found a grand total of 63 individuals, and 38-42 suspected breeding territories.

Two different Long-billed Plovers 흰목물떼새. Perhaps 2cy – Female? – above two images, showing very worn wing coverts but rather less worn looking “saddle”; perhaps younger male or older female below (?). This highly specialised riverine species seems to show a lot of individual variation, and it was often only easy to sex birds when in obvious pairs. For example, quite a few of the birds had some orange-brown at the base of the bill, while others had all black bills; most lacked a black bridge above the bill, while others (including some of those with brownish ear coverts below a black eye-line) also showed quite a lot of black on the lores.
Pair of Long-billed Plover 흰목물떼새 at the nest: male above (based on extent of black on head and in breast patches – but still showing weakly marked lores) and female below (based on much weaker face pattern, and very limited black scaling in the breast patches).

This research, supplementing once-every-three day counts of Scaly-sided Merganser along core stretches of the Imjin River by Yeoncheon Birds Korea, also covered habitats within the CCZ, and a few hours only in hill forest.

In all, we recorded 115 bird species, including at least four which we had not previously seen in the County, together with an interesting mix of tardy winter birds and early spring migrants.

In addition to very large numbers of Hawfinch and some thrush flocks, species of greatest note included:

  • Swan Goose Anser cygnoides 개리. Re-assessed as Globally Endangered. One in rice-fields between Jeongok and Yeoncheon Eup on April 1st. This is the second record this year, and follows soon after three documented by Director Baek on the Imjin River.
Swan Goose 개리, with Tundra Bean Goose 큰기러기 in foreground and Greater White-fronted Geese 쇠기러기,
  • Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna 혹부리오리. Very unusual in the ROK away from the coast. Two on the Imjin River at Baekhak from March 29th to April 1st at least.

  • Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator 바다비오리. Unusual away from the coast. On 29th, a female (2cy?) was with a 2cy male Scaly-sided Merganser at Horogoru; and a separate male was seen near to Baekhak.
  • Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris 낭비둘기.  A total of 18 were seen on the 3rd (up to 150 were present in the area in March).
  • White-naped Crane Antigone vipio 재두루미. A total of 44-48 were seen in the CCZ.
  • Red-crowned Crane Grus japonensis 두루미. A lone 2cy was in the CCZ on April 3rd.
  • Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii 흰꼬리좀도요. One was at Baekhak on March 29th. In addition to be being a very early record at the national level, this is also our first record of this scarce migrant in the Biosphere Reserve.
  • Saunders’s Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi 검은머리갈매기. Extremely unusual away from the coast. One was seen flying upstream on the Imjin River on 29th. Unsurprisingly, this is the first record we know of this Globally Vulnerable species in the Biosphere Reserve.
  • Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus 독수리. Five were still present near Yeoncheon Eup on April 1st; and one was seen on 3rd.
  • Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris 바위종다리. One was seen in Godae San on April 2nd. This is our first record in the Biosphere Reserve.

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