Photo-feature: Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis

Nesting across Arctic and high-latitude regions of both North America and Eurasia, the beautiful and highly distinctive Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis is a very scarce winter visitor to rocky coasts and bays of the east coast (and more rarely the south and even perhaps west coasts) of South Korea. It is listed as a rare winter visitor to the Korean Peninsula in Lee, Koo & Park (2000), and only single records are listed in the Ministry of Environment’s mid-winter surveys in South Korea in both 1999 and 2000, for example.

Further north in the DPRK, in a review of literature and museum specimens, Tomek (1999) was only able to trace a total of 13 reliable records, most on the east and fewer on the west coast, with only 6 of this total in the last 50 years. Rather intriguingly, then, while the Asian Waterfowl Census (Perennou et al., 1994) reveals no internationally important sites located anywhere in East Asia - largely due perhaps to lack of mid-winter coverage in key northern areas - the second highest count listed for the region was 20, at Majon in the DPRK.

As with all scarce species in South Korea, we would be delighted to receive any records of sightings from birders in an effort to clarify the status of this strikingly attractive northern duck.

Toronto, Canada. November 19th 2003. All photographs © Charlie Moores.

Toronto, Canada. December 20th 2003. All photographs © Charlie Moores.


  • Anon. (1999) and (2000). Winter Bird Census. Published by the South Korean Ministry of Environment.
  • Lee, W-S, Koo, T-H and J-Y Park. (2000). A Field Guide To the Birds of Korea. Published by LG Evergreen Foundation.
  • Perennou, C., Mundkur, T. & D. A. Scott. (1994). The Asian Waterfowl Census 1987-1991: Distribution and Status of Asian Waterfowl. AWB Publication No. 86. IWRB Publication No. 24.
  • Tomek T. (1999). The birds of North Korea. Non-Passeriformes. Acta. Zool. Cracov. 42 (1): 1-217.