Saemangeum Shorebird Monitoring Programme
March 7, 2006
The Saemangeum shorebird Monitoring Program will proceed in spring 2006, as indicated in earlier mails to potential participants and as stated on the Birds Korea website. The project has been accepted as an official research project by the Australasian Wader Studies Group, to be conducted in partnership with Birds Korea, and efforts are ongoing to involve domestic researchers and one hopes research bodies.
The exact design of the project still depends on four main variables:
The state of tidal exchange and feeding opportunities for shorebirds in the Saemangeum area. The process of appeal to the national Supreme Court has begun; and national media have now stated (on March 7th) that the Supreme Court will issue a final ruling opinion on March 16th. IF the Court allows the reclamation to proceed, participants will be able to witness the seawall closure at the end of April or the beginning of May, and presumably the multiple protests that will follow. Even IF the sea-wall closes there is no way at this stage that we can predict the response of the shorebirds to the closure: that is something we will be there to record.
The number of participants. With now less than a month to go before John Geale joins Nial Moores in looking for Bar-tailed Godwits and Far Eastern Curlew probably on April 1st, we need to firm up the exact number and schedule, and skills, of those participating, and develop the most reasonable and effective program in response.
The linkages that can be confirmed and/or developed within the next month. Much greater energy/time will be directed over the coming weeks to involve more people domestically in the program.
One further main variable in the project-design is finance: with more finance available, more participants can involve and the scope of the work can expand.
The following is a summary of information known to us so far:
We aimed to raise $US 20 000 for the first spring of the monitoring program, to cover vehicle hire, accommodation and food. Dependent on success and response, the hope is to also produce a Korean-language pamphlet explaining the project (a Birds Korea newsletter, funded by a more than $US 500 donation by member Mr. Lee Myeong-Oo not included below has already been produced and posted out to over 200 members; 250 further copies are still available to distribute to media and other potential participants); and also maybe to hold a workshop.
At present Birds Korea has received or been promised a total of ca $US 5300, made up of private donations (including from the Saemangeum Birdwatch Day), a donation of $US 1000 from Avifauna, and an award of $US 1000 from RSPB/Birdfair. The AWSG has received a private donation of c. $US 4000 through private donation and has further significant applications in the pipeline. We had hoped to have news on these applications by now, and thus be able to provide solid details on the expedition fees and accommodation costs. However, there will be another delay of a few days while we await news on grant applications (we are sorry about this, please bear with us). At this stage we have raised just enough money e.g. to cover car-rental costs during the expedition, so there is unlikely to be an expedition fee, but we have not yet confirmed whether or not we can cover some or all of accommodation and food costs (likely to come to $US 55 per day per participant).
Participants and Dates
Nial Moores. Responsible for much of the basic logistical support. NM will try to make significant patches of time available during much of the 2 month period (probably one-month presence at Saemangeum or counting). No driver's license. Korean language skills (as well as English and Japanese!). Extensive shorebird counting experience in Korea.
Ms. Kim Su-Kyung (Good English and Korean skills). Limited time available to involve.
Mr. Jung Sun Gu
Mr Sung Ha Cheol
Out of about 15 potential international participants who have indicated their intention to involve, the following have already confirmed participation. It is expected that this list will grow significantly in March as confirmations are received.
John Geale. March 31st – April 28th. (International driver's license)
Simon Cohen. One week between April 20th and 31st
Jenny Spencer (probably 2 weeks: to be confirmed)
Danny Rogers (ca 3 weeks between mid-April and early May)
Phil Battley (ca 2 weeks in April)
Ken Gosbell (probably during April 20-May 10)
Jan van de Kam (expedition photographer), April 24 to May 13
Simon Buckell (2-3 weeks between 12 April and 10 May)
Adrian Riegen (3-4 days in last week of April)
Dr.J.Pandiyan (April 18 th to May 18th)
Yuri Zharikov: overseas based will provide much mapping analysis support.
Basic Program Design
Dr. Phil Battley proposed the following two main counts for the Program in 2006 (although we may need to alter plans quickly on the ground if sea-wall closure happens during the expedition - investing more time in assessing changes in local habitat use by birds, and surveying neighbouring wetlands - but this is the basic plan dictated by Saemangeum tide cycles):
1) Mid-April. Full formal survey I.
Intensive, repeated surveys from 13-20 April. If we can get enough teams to do both estuaries in a day, then aim for a double-count on days 1 & 2 and again on 6 & 7. Use the intervening three to help survey other areas. If not possible in a day, then cover the estuaries once on days 1 & 2 and again on 6 & 7. Note that tides shift to morning ones on the 18th.
2) Late April-Early May. Full formal survey II.
Intensive, repeated surveys from 25 April to 30 April or early May. All afternoon tides up to 1 May if we want higher than 5.6 m. As before, try for a repeat Saemangeum Survey within that period?
We will conduct at least two main periods of intensive surveying (across spring high tide cycles), rather than across three such periods as initially proposed. In both periods we aim to achieve two full counts. Furthermore, if we can get 4 full counts into those two surveys then we will have some measure of how consistent numbers or counts actually are. A better way to do this might be to do a double survey in one 4-day block.
In addition, IF funding and capacity exists these need then be supported by (a) counts of the neighboring Geum estuary; (b) later counting to record final departures towards the end of May, and (c) one or preferably two circuits of the whole coastline (south and west coasts) to replicate shorebird counts conducted by Nial Moores in 1998. It is still hoped that these counts might all be able to dovetail to counts already proposed by domestic counting bodies.
Birds Korea would like to encourage all those interested in involving or supporting this Program to join the Birds Korea forum (accessed through the home-page side bar). This will allow easier discussion of points of public interest.
Danny Rogers (AWSG: Email firstname.lastname@example.org, ph + 61-3-9710 1345)
Phil Battley (AWSG: email@example.com, ph + 64 9 298 9011)
Nial Moores (Birds Korea: firstname.lastname@example.org) , mobile ph +82 11 9303 1963