Reclamation of the Songdo Mudflat begins
Tim Edelsten, June 10th 2010

Reclamation of the last remaining tidal mudflat at Songdo is underway. Construction of the initial sea-wall already extends approximately half way across the estuary. From observations of previous reclamations in the Songdo area, it seems likely that this 1015 ha of prime wetland habitat could be sealed off within a matter of weeks. Large heaps of sand, gravel and quarried stone have already been deposited along the northern edge in preparation for in-filling.

Dependent on this mudflat to find food for their young - and seen busily feeding today- were the globally Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor and the Globally Vulnerable Saunders's Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi. Also present in numbers were Mongolian Gull Larus mongolicus and Little Tern Sternula albifrons: all four species hold breeding colonies nearby, and can be observed constantly commuting between their nest sites and the mudflat.

At the northern end, separated by a newly built expressway, lies "Songdo lagoon", in the centre of which an artificial island serves as the nesting site of Black-faced Spoonbill, with 48 adult or full-grown individuals and at least 14 nests, each containing apparently one or two unfledged chicks. Breeding alongside are Mongolian Gulls, with 21 adults and 21 half-grown chicks counted today. Both are the only mainland nesting colonies of each species known in Korea. Saunders's Gulls are once again nesting on an area of unprotected and open ground a few kilometres northward: theirs is one of only two or three breeding colonies in the country.

Reclamation wall under construction, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Reclamation wall under construction, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Preparation for in-filling, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Black-faced Spoonbill & Mongolian Gull nesting colony, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Black-faced-Spoobill Platalea minor, Photo © Tim Edelsten

Saunders's Gull Chroicocephalus saundersi, Photo © Tim Edelsten