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A Report from

Korea, October 2014,

Nicholas Allen

Three days spent birding on a family holiday from 4-18th of the month. October seemed to be an in-between time for the birds in the country with almost all of the summer visitors gone, but with the winter visitors mostly still to arrive – I was told most waterfowl come in late October/early November. The weather was cool overnight/early morning, but temperatures soon rose to high 20s Celcius. It was mostly sunny, with only 2 days out of the 15 I was in the country having a little rain. One day was windy due to a typhoon over Japan exerting an extended influence. Towards the end of my stay the trees were really starting to colour up and lose their leaves, especially in the mountains.

Upo Wetland 7th October 11am-2pm

A large Ramsar wetland complex near Changnyeong, south of Daegu. 35o32’37”N 128o25’3”E

Visited the area near the Ecology Centre, walking the shore along Daedae Bank and west to the Observation Tower, then back to the centre via the Forest 1st Trail. The reserve has a website giving directions to the site plus other useful information, and very useful leaflets are available at the information kiosk near the Ecology Centre in Korean, English and other languages.

Our visit was before many winter visitors had arrived, and after the summer ones had left, so few birds were present. However, there were a few hundred waterfowl on view, including Bean Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, and Northern Shoveler. Most of the ducks were in confusing eclipse plumage.

The lake seemed to have extensive shallow edges, and probably deeper toward the middle. Surrounding the lake were oak/chestnut forest (few pine trees) and rice paddies. The Observation Tower isn’t actually a tower, but a quite substantial building on a hill overlooking the lake accessed up some fairly steep steps. Closer views of the birds on offer were had from Daedae Bank.

Great Egret Ardea alba about 10
Little Egret Egretta garzetta 2
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea 6
Bean Goose Anser serrirostris/fabalis 20 flew in
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos common
(Eastern) Spot-billed Duck Anas zonorhyncha common
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata several
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca common
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope 2
Northern Pintail Anas acuta 2
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula 2
Common (Ring-necked) Pheasant Phasianus colchicus 1 heard
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra common
Rufous (Oriental) Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis several
(Japanese) Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos kizuki 1
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos 1
Brown-eared Bulbul Hypsipetes amaurotis several
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus 2
Oriental Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis 2 heard
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus 1 party of 6
Coal Tit Periparus ater 2-3
(Japanese) Great Tit Parus minor common
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius 2 heard
Black-billed (Eurasian) Magpie Pica pica several
Large-billed (Jungle) Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 2-3.

Shrimp Pools and Salt Pans near Shinon-1-ri 11th October 5-6pm

Just north of Anmyeon-do close to the western shore. A visit with Peter Han (a local birdingpal) and a monk from Buseoksa.
The original intent had been to visit a high tide roost visible from Hwang-do (east of Anmyeon-do), but a king tide had forced all the birds off it, and presumably onto a multitude of paddyfields, shrimp ponds and the like. Thus we visited the nearest large area of shallow water/mud at the area described above. 36o35’56”N 126o18’22”E and 36o36’16”N 126o18’00”E

Great Egret several
Little Egret 2
Grey Heron several
Mallard several
Spot-billed Duck common
Common Pheasant 1
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus 50
Mongolian Plover (Lesser Sand-Plover) Charadrius mongolus 4
Dunlin Calidris alpina 200
Common Redshank Tringa totanus 2
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis 2
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia 70
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos 2
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa melanuroides 1
Bull-headed Shrike Lanius bucephalus 3
Daurian Redstart 1
Black-billed Magpie 2

Buseoksa temple area 12th October 7-8.50am

Walks around temple complex and to cave containing small shrine

Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 1
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker 1
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus 1
Brown-eared Bulbul 2
Daurian Redstart 4
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 2
Varied Tit Poecile varius 1
Coal Tit 2-3
Great Tit common
Eurasian Jay 2
Black-billed Magpie 1
Large-billed Crow 1

Ha-ri and Eosa-ri Harbours and nearby coast 12th October 9-10am

Guided by Peter Han for the morning. Stopped to scan for gulls and egrets in harbour of former and near bridge of latter. These harbours are on the eastern shore of Cheonsuman Bay near the barrage of Ganweol Lake/Seosan A. Saunder’s Gull is often present (but not when we visited).

Temminck’s (Japanese) Cormorant Phalacrocorax capillatus 6
Great Egret several
Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia 2
Little Egret 1-2
Swinhoe’s (Chinese) Egret Egretta eulophotes 2
Grey Heron several
Spot-billed Duck several
Dunlin 20
Common Greenshank 1
Far-eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis 1
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris very common
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 6
Herring Gull Larus argentatus several
Heuglin’s Gull (Lesser Black-backed Gull) Larus (fuscus) heuglini 2
Bull-headed Shrike 1
Daurian Redstart 1
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus several
Black-billed Magpie several

Seosan A Rice Fields 10-11am

Searching for goose flocks on harvested fields east of Ganweol Lake, plus waders and waterfowl in streams/drains. A strong wind due to a typhoon over Japan made passerines difficult to view as they would not perch in the open. The network of farm roads was gravel-surfaced and some were rough and narrow. Access to this area is controlled during the winter months to prevent unnecessary disturbance to birds.

Great Egret several
Intermediate Egret several
Little Egret 2
Grey Heron several
(Greater) White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons 1000
Bean Goose 2500
Mallard several
Spot-billed Duck common
Common Teal several
Common Greenshank 1
Herring Gull 1
Rufous Turtle Dove very common
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis 2 heard
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica common
Black-backed (White) Wagtail Motacilla (alba) lugens 1
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus 2 heard
Great Tit several
Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica several
Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala 1
Oriental Greenfinch Chloris sinica 5
Black-billed Magpie several

Head of Ganweol Lake 11-11.15am

Scanned from what seemed to be a floodbank. A screen blind is provided in this area. 36o41’14”N 126o27’35”E

Temminck’s Cormorant several
Great Egret several
Little Egret several
Grey Heron several
White-fronted Goose 3000
Bean Goose 7000
Mallard several
Spot-billed Duck several
Common Teal several
Dunlin – several small waders probably this species
Herring Gull several
Black-backed Wagtail 1
Barn Swallow common

Haemi Daekyocheon 11.15-11.30am

Starting on the true left of this small river we soon crossed on a low bridge to its true right bank and followed to near where the road becomes very rough and leaves the banks at 36o43’30”N 126o28’37”E. The river is good for waders and waterfowl, especially the latter in winter.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 3
Great Egret common
Little Egret several
Grey Heron several
Mallard several
Spot-billed Duck common
Common Teal several
Common Pheasant 1
Temminck’s Stilt Calidris temminckii 1
Common Greenshank 1
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola 1
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago 1
Rufous Turtle Dove several
Barn Swallow common

Jangdongokdongmi-gil 11.30-11.45am

Harvested rice fields near what seemed to be a farm-processing plant on the edge of the reclaimed area approx 36o43’40”N 126o28’16”E.

Tundra Bean Goose Anser serrirostris 1 (strange that it was alone, but seemed healthy)
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus 1
Rufous Turtle Dove 1
Black-backed Wagtail 30
Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi 2
Red-throated Pipit 2
Buff-bellied (American) Pipit Anthus rubescens several


Dongbaek Island, Busan 6th October 1-2pm

Not actually an island, but a small headland adjacent to Haeundae Beach that has many walking tracks, and people.

Grey Heron 1
Black-tailed Gull 50
Brown-eared Bulbul common
Great Tit several
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus 1 heard
Tree Sparrow 2
Large-billed Crow 1
Black-billed Magpie several

Sangdang Sanseong 9th October 10-10.30am

The forest in the area seemed quite full of birds, but the visit with family and friends was unfortunately short. The fortress and wall is interesting too. 36o39’40”N 127o32’25”E

Rufous Turtle Dove several farmland
White-backed Woodpecker 1 heard drumming
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 1 probable over pond
Brown-eared Bulbul several
Coal Tit several
Great Tit common
Tree Sparrow common
Eurasian Jay 1
Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus 30
Black-backed Magpie several
Large-billed Crow several

Mireuk Daewon 9th October 2-3pm

A Buddhist temple complex with a large standing Buddha, and other important relics. We only visited a small part of the area, and the forests are probably worthy of further exploration. They are part of Woraksan National Park. 36o49’23”N 128o5’40”E

Rufous Turtle Dove several
Daurian Redstart 3
Great Tit several
Oriental Greenfinch 2
Azure-winged Magpie 40 (in one flock)
Black-billed Magpie several
Large-billed Crow 3

Changdeokgung Secret Garden, Seoul 18th October 10-11.30am

The garden, though it is within a large city, has many mature trees, more resembling a forest, and a reasonable amount of birdlife. Unfortunately the secret garden (Biwon) can only be visited on a guided tour, so birding opportunities are limited. The beautiful buildings in the garden are a bonus.

Rufous Turtle Dove 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Brown-eared Bulbul several
Daurian Redstart several
Long-tailed Tit one party of 4
Marsh Tit Poecile palustris 1
Coal Tit several
Great Tit common
Tree Sparrow several
Eurasian Jay 1
Black-billed Magpie several
Large-billed Crow 3


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