3 March: Spring in Songdo?

Bird News from Spike Millington, March 3rd, 2013

I came back from a trip to Japan last week to find most of the ice had turned to open water and the temperatures had risen a few degrees. Together with Judit Szabo, I went to check the tidal flats on the falling tide. About 300 Saunders’s Gulls were patrolling the newly exposed mud for emerging crabs in the bright sunshine, resplendent in their newly-acquired breeding plumage, calling and even displaying occasionally. A fantastic sight! The wintering flock of Eurasian Curlews was still present and numbered 700, together with 45 Grey Plover and 20 Dunlin. Three Relict Gulls were with them but sadly not yet in breeding plumage. About 50 Black-headed Gulls also still retained their winter plumage. Recently-arrived Far Eastern Oystercatchers were very active, piping and displaying on the mudflats: there must have been 40-50 scattered throughout the area. A White-tailed Eagle flew over, putting up large flocks of ducks, mostly Mallards and Spot-billed Ducks. Two Large-billed Crows were being hassled by the local Magpies. One or two Grey Herons were also present, but no sign of the Great Egret seen a couple of weeks ago.

On the other side of the new reclamation, about 2,000 large gulls rested on the remaining ice, mostly Mongolian and Vega Gulls, but one or two darker-mantled birds and a couple of hulking Slaty-backed Gulls. Three Whooper Swans, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 50 Common Shelducks were on the water.

On the island in Namdong Reservoir, the Mongolian Gulls are already displaying and scraping. A few Great Cormorants have also arrived back, but no Black-faced Spoonbills as yet, although I’m sure they are on their way as numbers are going down at Mai Po in Hong Kong.

At the Incheon old golf course, Long-tailed Rosefinches were in evidence with about 20 birds. A single Pallas’s Rosefinch was also present. Other birds included Peregrine (a smart adult), Eastern Buzzard, Eurasian Jay, 3 Yellow-throated Buntings, Great-Spotted Woodpecker and a couple of vocal Marsh Tits. Back at Michuhol Park, a nice variety of birds included Naumann’s Thrush, Pallas’s Rosefinch, 2 Varied Tits and a vocal Winter Wren, a park first.

One comment on “3 March: Spring in Songdo?

  1. After reading this post about Songdo, I searched the web for other info on Songdo and found the following exchange http://kojects.com/2013/02/18/a-visit-to-songdo/ from the otherwise really good Kojects website http://kojects.com/ devoted to information in English about transport in Korea. It appears that some foreigners living in Korea, like the author of the article who replied to a comment about the article, have not done their homework when it comes to environmental conservation. Anyone care to comment?

    James says:
    March 12, 2013 at 12:53 am
    Far more important than any engineering/design flaws with Songdo is the fact that it never should have been undertaken in the first place. It destroyed critically important habitat for a lot of wildlife, including some species of endangered birds. Sometimes there are legitimate “sacrifices” of parts of the environment when necessary projects cannot be built at alternate locations, more housing is needed to reduce overcrowding, etc. But this is not one of them. None of those nor any other needs apply here. No reason whatsoever that this “development” should ever have gotten off the ground. Yet another 4-rivers/Saemanggeum style project with no other purpose than to line pockets of developers and their corrupt sponsors in government. Just sickening. A good list of concerns can be found the Birds Korea website’s Songdo page: http://www.birdskorea.org/Habitats/Wetlands/Songdo/BK-HA-Songdo.shtml

    Nikola says:
    March 13, 2013 at 12:58 am
    I know about the environmental issues of Songdo but I don’t agree with the point that Songdo is unnecessary. Incheon has a lot of potential and so, the capacity to accommodate people and businesses had to be extended. Songdo has a number of R&D companies, some headquarters, even UN climate fund headquarter and two universities.One of the universities is the international campus of Yonsei, which is situated in Seoul and has no place to expand there. Of course, you could argue why they choose Songdo.
    The city government of Incheon intented to use its possibilities, esp. the benefits of the international airport. If you look at a map, then you’ll see that Songdo is relatively close to the airport and that there aren’t any other available places which could compete in this point. It would have been great if they redeveloped the already existing urban area of Incheon (increase of density in Incheon!) instead of reclaiming land and destroying important wetlands, but such measures would have taken longer and they would be far more expensive. Songdo could boost the economy of Incheon. It isn’t easy to compete with Seoul and Songdo is somehow the ace of Incheon. So, there are clearly economic reasons for the development and then sadly environment gets forgotten too easy.

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