Bird Report by Martin Sutherland and Kim Sona
This is a summary of a month-long visit to South Korea between 12th December, 2011 and 10th January, 2012. As usual, we were based at Kim Sonas’s family home in Waegwan, Kyongbuk province.
The trip involved three excursions around various parts of the country and exploration of the countryside around Waegwan itself.
This summary is presented in four parts:
Part 1: West coast
Part 2: East coast and north
Part 3: Southeast coast, and,
Part 4: Waegwan area.
December 19th to 23rd, 2011: West coast from Gomso Bay up to Namyang Lake.
We started by following the Geum River from Ganggyeong to the tidal barrage at Gunsan. Wildfowl numbers much lower than expected and there was no of any Baikal Teal. Numbers were also low on the estuarine side of the barrage. Highlights were 80+ Saunder’s Gulls flying upriver at dusk and a few Eurasian Oystercatchers. A drake Mandarin Duck was the only one of the trip.
We soon headed west along the south side of the river and across the Saemangeum Barrage to Gosapo and Gomso Bay. From the barrage we found a concentration of at least 4000 Greater Scaup and, on the seaward side at the southern end, a flock of 180 Eurasian Oystercatchers.
Reaching Gomso Bay we had two Black-faced Spoonbills fly over and a flock of 11 Swan Geese off the seawall. The following day, 21st, we worked Gomso Bay again until late morning. Highlights included four Oriental Storks in a tidal creek but there was no sign of the spoonbills. A large flock of 1200+ corvids on fields by a landfill were apparently mostly Rooks with a few crows admixed. No sign of any Jackdaws but a flock of 16 Common Starlings was of interest. Heading north again we found single Upland Buzzard and Black Kite at Gosapo.
22nd December: Seosan. We spent the whole day here. The highlight was another two Oriental Storks while other birds included three Eurasian Spoonbills, two White-tailed Eagles, a Merlin and two Peregrine Falcons. There were also at least 5000 Bean Geese and smaller numbers of White-fronted Geese but few duck and not a Baikal Teal to be seen.
December 23rd: Namyang and Asan Bays. A depressingly devastated area: we found the area around Namyang Lake the most productive. Another large flock of corvids, this time mostly rooks, held 40+ Daurian Jackdaws while a single Eurasian Bittern dropped into reeds along the lake shore. A large flock of at least 1000 Ruddy Shelduck was also noted.