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Birds Korea's Bird News December 2002
  1. Have you seen one of the "Key Species" we are collecting data for?
  2. A request for data on sightings of Ruddy Shelducks.
  3. Mark Barter's hugely important report "Shorebirds of the Yellow Sea - Importance, Threats and Conservation Status", has been placed online.
  4. A report of the poisoning of over 60 Black-faced Spoonbills in Taiwan.

Update and urgent request: 27 Dec:
Scientists attempting to deal with the deaths of 67 Black-faced Spoonbills need Clastridium botulism C type Antiserum. Anyone with knowledge of stocks is asked to contact Dr. Wen-Yan Chiau of Wetlands Taiwan: e-mail: chiauyw (at)

Bird News from Andy Stoddart

Andy has kindly supplied his sightings from the recent "Sunbird" Tour.

Amongst the highlights were records of four species of crane, 250,000 Baikal Teal, Steller's Sea-eagle, and Relict and Saunders's Gulls. Interestingly sightings were made of Chinese Nuthatch, Red-throated Thrush, and caudatus Long-tailed Tit - three taxa considered to be rare winter visitors to Korea that have been recorded a number of times already this winter.

For Andy's full trip-list, go to "Sunbird" Dec 2002.

Bird News from Nial Moores and Tim Allison
Busan: Nakdong estuary and Taejongdae, December 31

Outstanding highlights were at least 4 (and probably 5) Steller's Sea Eagle, and 10 Relict Gull. At Taejongdae, the drake or hybrid drake American Wigeon and 2 Grey Bunting were still present, and ca 170+ Black Kite were counted coming to the evening roost.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Upo Ramsar Site, December 30

1 ad White-tailed Eagle, 4 White Spoonbill and 2 650 Eastern Taiga Bean were the "only" highlights...

Eastern Taiga Bean, Upo, © Nial Moores
Bird News from Tim Allison
Guryongpo, December 29

White Spoonbill -- 1 near Guryongpo, Harlequin Duck -- 16 in Pohang, Scaly-sided Merganser -- 3 in Gyeongju, White-tailed Eagle -- 2 (1 ad, 1 imm.), Bomun Lakes, Gyeongju, Glaucous Gull -- 1 ad., Dogu Beach, Pohang, Ancient Murrelet -- 7 North of Guryongpo, Japanese Wagtail -- 3 in Gyeongju.

Bird News from Nial Moores
Nakdong Estuary and neighbouring woodland, December 27

An excellent spread of raptors (comprising 10 species) included 2 Eastern Marsh and 1 Hen Harrier, Osprey, ca 4 Common and 1 near-adult Upland Buzzard, 2-3 White-tailed Eagle and 1 (probably 2nd CY) Stellers's Sea Eagle, which after soaring for 15 minutes, gained height and appeared to head off northeast. In addition, at least 5 Swan Geese in amongst ca 800 Eastern Taiga Beans, and several Tundra Swans amongst the ca 2000 Whoopers. Gulls also provided much interest, with best a probable winter adult Thayer's Gull watched landing and then lost in ca 1 000 Kamchatkas and Vegas. Fairly adequate consolation was provided though in the form of 1-2 Glaucous, ca 30 Saunders's (usually ca 100-130 present across the whole estuary) and at least 8 Relict Gulls (including at least 2 winter adults). Woodland was also productive, with 2 Red-flanked Bluetail, 6+ Pale Thrush, 20-30 Japanese White-eye and to add further to the Japanese theme, 3 Cantans-type Japanese Bush Warbler and a single, extremely skulking Grey Bunting.

Bird News from Choi Soon Kyoo
Gangneung, December 28 - 29

1 Spectacled Guillemot and several Siberian Accentor

Spectacled Guillemot, Gangneung.
Photo © Choi Soon Kyoo

Siberian Accentor, Gangneung.
Photo © Choi Soon Kyoo
Bird News from Sean Minns
Nakdong Estuary, December 25 and 27

Bitterly cold on the 25th, but many birds seen: 11 Swan Geese amongst the Taiga Bean Geese, 3 Relict Gulls, a 2ndW Glaucous-winged and a 1stW Mongolian Gull closer to the barrage, 2 near adult White-tailed Eagles and 2 Steller's Sea Eagles (a 1st winter and a 2nd/3rd winter). Later I also had another or the same 1stW Steller's soaring over the apartment complex at Daedopo, as well as 2 more 1stW White-tailed Eagles sitting on the final sand spit at the rivermouth.

On the 27th went to the Nakdong River once more, concentrating mainly on Eulsukdo and the barrage area visited on the 25th.

Different birds to the ones mentioned (on the Birds Korea site) included 9 White-naped Crane (flying downriver), 80+ White-fronted Geese, 1 Cinerous Vulture, numerous Pallas's Reed Buntings and a few (Chinese) Penduline Tits.

Also great views of a hunting and soaring Upland Buzzard (possibly young male pale phase) on Eulsukdo, with a Common Buzzard, Hen Harrier and 2 Black Kites. I had another Spoonbill on Eulsukdo (an adult winter). Also rather mysteriously heard, but could not locate what I am sure was Crested Lark.
I will put a full trip report on Kantori in the New Year.

Bird News from Kim Woo Soo
Dogu beach in Pohang, December 24

1 Relict Gull.

1st W Relict Gull, Pohang, © Kim Woo Soo

1st W Relict Gull, Pohang, © Kim Woo Soo
Bird News from Kim Su Kyung
Upo Wetland, December 24

+1,600 Taiga Bean Geese, 1 Swan Goose, 30 White-fronted Geese, 8 White Spoonbill, 16 Whooper Swan, and 7 Common Shelduck.

Bird News from Kim Woo Soo
Cheonsu bay in Seosan, December 22

+30 White Spoonbill, 1 Oriental Stork, +1 Snow Geese, and 1 Scaly-sided Merganser observed by Dankook University Wild Bird Society.

Snow Goose, Cheolwon, © Kim Woo Soo
Bird News from Kim Dong Hyun
Cheolwon, December 22

2 Wing tagged Cinereous Vulture: No. 08 and 06

An important banding project is being undertaken this year by researchers in Mongolia. Several young Cinereous Vultures have been banded, wing tagged, and released in central Mongolia as a part of the breeding ecology study of the species. All birds have one black colored band on the left leg with a letter above a number (eg N 44). Many birds have black wing tags with white alpha numbers.

Wing-tagged Cinereous Vulture, Cheolwon, © Kim Dong Hyun

Now that the vultures have left the leaving the breeding area the researchers want to learn their locations to track their movements. It would greatly assist the project if any sightings of tagged birds could be sent to us and/or to the address below.
Please include your name, email address, and provide exact details of location, time, and description.

Tseveenmyadag Natsagdorj
Ornithological Laboratory
Institute of Biology, Academy of Science
Ulaanbaatar 51,
e-mail: tseveenmyadag (at)

Bird News from Kim Hyun-Tae and Choi Soon-kyoo
Kang-reung, December 21

A metal-ringed Black-tailed Gull (photographed by Choi Soon-kyoo on Kang-reung, on South Korea's east coast), is presumably from the Japanese Rishiri colony. For more details of this flagging programme, go to Information on Black-tailed Gull Flagging.

Bird News from Tim Allison
Han River, December 21

Numbers of most species along the Han River are up from last week.
The Great Black-headed (or Pallas's) Gull was present again, about 1 km East of the original location, with a large flock of gulls, which were almost entirely Mongolians. The gulls were flushed by a tugboat about 2 minutes after I saw it: it flew to the East with a small group of Mongolians and disappeared. Interestingly, the 200+ gulls near Oksu Station on the sandbars flew up about 4:45 (possibly flushed by the local Peregrine), and most went to the East. It's possible that there is a large roost somewhere to the East along the river, and the Great-black Headed Gull has been spending time there.

Bird News from Tim Allison
within a 3.75-km radius of my apartment (Seoul), December 15

A total of roughly 7720 individuals of 51 species. The following sightings are of interest:

Waterfowl (along my regular stretch between Oksu and Hanyang Univ.): Little Grebe, 3; Great Crested Grebe, 1; Common Shelduck, 2; Mallard 250; Spot-billed Duck, 175; Northern Shoveller, 270; Common Teal, 1600; Gadwall, 90; Northern Pintail, 1400; Common Pochard, 1450; Tufted Duck, 1300; Greater Scaup, 14; Smew, 3; Common Merganser, 270; Eurasian Coot, 2.

Also: White Spoonbill -- one at the above location, Peregrine -- one at the above location, Long-billed Plover -- one at the above location, Japanese Waxwing -- 7 at Namsan

The following is a short list of selected birding highlights enjoyed by Frederik Willemyns and Frank De Scheemaeker from Belgium, who followed an anti-clockwise winter birding circuit around South Korea between December 4th and 14th, with advice and then guiding by Nial Moores from the 10th to the 14th. Weather was mild until the 9th, after which temperatures remained below freezing.

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Han-Imjin, December 14 am

Swan Goose 2, Ruddy Shelduck ca 100, Cinereous Vulture 4, White-tailed Eagle 2

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Gwangneung Arboretum-Cheorwon Basin, December 13

Gwangneung: Hazel Hen 1 winter male, Solitary Snipe 1, Grey-capped Woodpecker 1 female, Black Woodpecker 2-3 seen excellently, Brown Dipper 2, Pallas's Rosefinch 25+

Gwangneung to and including Cheorwon Basin Area: Cinereous Vulture 148+, White-tailed Eagle 1, Red-crowned Crane20, White-naped Crane 19+

Cinereous Vultures, Cheorwon.
Photos © Nial Moores
Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
East Coast-Andong, December 12

White-tailed Eagle 1, Mandarin Duck 55, Baikal Teal 1

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Gyeongju-Guryongpo, December 11

1stW Glaucous-winged Gull, © Nial Moores

Baikal Teal 3
Long-billed Plover 3

Black Brant 3
Glaucous-winged Gull 3 (2 first winters, one 3rd)
Glaucous Gull 2
Ancient Murrelet ca 100

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Nakdong and Taejongdae, Busan, December 10

Taejongdae: White Spoonbill 13, Black-faced Spoonbill 1 presumed first winter at long range, Eastern Marsh Harrier 1, Glaucous Gull 3

Nakdong: White-naped Crane 5 + 28 northwest in the evening, Black Kite 145, Whites' Thrush 1, Red-flanked Bluetail 1, Grey Bunting 2 ++ Females

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Joonam Reservoir-Woopo, December 9

Joonam: White Spoonbill 3, Whooper Swan 225, Taiga Bean Goose 2 000, Baikal Teal 170, Merlin 1

Upo: Taiga Bean Goose 1 000

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Gocheonnam, Haenam, December 8

Swan Goose, © Nial Moores

Swan Goose 8
Baikal Teal 150 000
Osprey 2
Black Kite 1
Eastern Marsh Harrier 1
Hen Harrier ca 61, with an amazing 52 counted coming into one roost
Barn Swallow 2 (one of the latest winter records ever in Korea?)
Little Bunting 14

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Suncheon, December 7

Hooded Crane 122-145

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Seosan-Geum River, December 6

Seosan: Northern Bittern 1, White Spoonbill 25, Steller's Sea Eagle 1, Thick-billed Tundra Bean 3 500, Baikal Teal 1 500, Red-necked Stint 1 (very unusual in winter, though 1-2 remained at Seosan in 2001/2002, with a further single in Busan), Lapland Bunting 650

Geum River: Baikal Teal 20 000, Mandarin Duck 1

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Ganghwa Island, December 5

Greater White-front 2 000, Saker Falcon 1 (a rare but probably annual migrant and winter visitor, especially on the west coast), Red-crowned Crane 9 ads, Hooded Crane 1 (a very unusual record here)

Bird News from Frederik Willemyns & Frank De Scheemaeker
Yeongjong Island- Ganghwa Island, December 4

Ruddy Shelduck 303 Yeongjong, 216 Ganghwa, Upland Buzzard 1 probable Yeongjong

Bird News from Lee Ki Sup
Han River, near Seoul, December 4

Great Black-headed Gull, Han River, © Lee Ki Sup

The Great Black-headed (or Pallas's) Gull first found by Tim Allison on the 1st (see our Rarity report page) was still on the Han River, and we're grateful to LEE Ki Sup for sending us this image to post.

Bird News from Lee Ki Sup
Taejongdae and vicinity, Busan, December 3

In overcast and increasingly wet weather, the drake (hybrid?) American Wigeon was still present. In addition, towards dusk, 4 Pale and ca 5 White's Thrushes feeding loosely together, along with a single Red-flanked Bluetail, while a similarly loose bunting group contained several Yellow-throateds, 2+ personata/soridida Black-faced, at least 3 Grey Buntings (including one winter male), and one probable Tristram's Bunting (the latter on call only).

Bird News from Tim Allison
Han River, near Seoul, December 1

Great Black-headed Gull
Korea's first documented record.
Photo © Tim Allison

A superb start to the month with Korea's first documented Great Black-headed (or Pallas's) Gull found in a gull flock on the Han River. The bird appears to be a third-winter. A full report is posted on the Rarity Reports Page.