The most exciting news of the month comes with the satellite tracking of the northward migration of Bar-tailed Godwits from New Zealand to the Yellow Sea - in a single non-stop flight of over 10,000 Km!
The Saemangeum Shorebird Monitoring Program (SSMP) 2007 is now underway.
By the end of March, over 50 people had promised to volunteer one or more days to the program, with another ten or so likely to do so during April and May (this compares to 30 people total volunteering time in spring 2006). Details of this Program are also widely posted on our websites.
Key points include:
The SSMP is a joint program of Birds Korea and the international Australasian Wader Studies Group (AWSG);
It will run for three years (2006-2008), with most field research during northward migration of shorebirds (April and May);
The SSMP is designed to monitor and publicise the impacts of the massive Saemangeum reclamation on populations of migratory shorebirds – both by counting shorebirds in the Saemangeum area, Gomso Bay and Geum Estuary, and also by meshing this data in with ongoing research programs being conducted in Australasia. This data will then be made freely available and also published in various forms.
The SSMP 2007 has four co-managers: Mr. Nial Moores (Director of Birds Korea); Mr. Ju Yong-Gi (Formal Advisor to Birds Korea on Saemangeum); Dr. Danny Rogers (Chair of the Scientific Committee, AWSG, Australia); and Dr. Phil Battley (AWSG, Massey University and coordinator of the Bar-tailed Godwit tracking program in New Zealand).
Out of 50 or so people confirmed, participants and supporters this year come from South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Thailand, Bangladesh, Canada, the US and Germany. Out of a very long list (many thanks to all!), familiar names to Birds Korea members include Professor Hong Jae-Sang (Inha University, and one of the region's leading researchers on benthos), Mr. Ken Gosbell (Chair of the AWSG), Ms Sarah Dawkins (Conservation officer of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds [RSPB] for East England) and Mr. Ed Keeble (Birds Korea Formal Advisor, major donor to the group, AND the artist responsible for our tee-shirt and posters).
In the SSMP 2007, there will be increased research on benthos as well as shorebirds. We are also planning various meetings (with local fisherfolk and other groups, including e.g. Mokpo KFEM) and events, which will be posted on our websites separately.
Many special thanks this (and every) month go to: Ms. Sona Sutherland, for her excellent work in translating our monthly updates; Mr. Geoff Styles for his enormous contribution to the SSMP; Ms Park Hye-Ran, who is now in charge of correspondence with domestic members; and Mr. Cho Young-tae, who takes over the role of Birds Korea Treasurer. We also wish to thank the UK's Royal Society Protection of Birds (RSPB) for their kind donation and support of the SSMP. Again, many thanks!
Further major news for Birds Korea also includes our moving - from our presently tiny office space, into a small but rather more appropriate space in the same building.
Our new address (from April 05) becomes:
Birds Korea, 1009 Ho, 3 Dong, Samik Tower Apt., Namcheon 2-Dong, Su Young-Gu, Busan, 613762, Republic of Korea.
This new space will allow us to meet and to benefit much more from the energy and opinions of our members – please visit!
The month remained mild almost throughout, with highs ranging from only +2 C (with snow showers) on 10th and 11th in the north and north-east, to +20 C in the south-east early in the month and again towards month's end, before colder temperatures and a yellow dust storm covered much of the country on 31st.
Outstanding find of the month was a 3rd Calendar-year female Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus, found freshly dead on Ui Island, Shinnan-Gun, photographed and identified by Park Jong-Gil (of the National Parks Migrant Bird Centre) on March 21st. This is the first record for the Korean peninsula of this largely sedentary raptor.
A pale phase Booted Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus, (photographed by Peter Nebel on March 30th in Gunsan) was another excellent find, and only Korea's second documented record.
Other species recorded probably less than ten times in Korea seen in March included a Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis, at Cheorwon (Kim Shin Han) also on the 21st, while an adult Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus (presumably the same individual present in late December and early January) was again on the Han River, between at least 2nd and the 7th (when seen by multiple observers and photographed by e.g. Shim Kyu-Sik, Rich Lindie and Robin Newlin), with a first-winter Pallas's Gull also seen at long range at Song Do southern tidal-flats on March 11th (Nial Moores and Martin Kennewell). The Han River also had a male Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina between at least 2nd and 12th (on last date when photographed by Robin Newlin), as well as an apparent hybrid Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri x Ferruginous Duck A. nyroca.
Long-staying species of note included the Long-tailed Shrike and one male Red-throated Thrush Turdus r. ruficollis at Seosan B until at least 3rd (when seen by Tim Edelsten, Robin Newlin and Geoff Styles), and the wintering Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus in Gunsan (at least until ca 20th: Peter and Angela Nebel).
Shorebird counts (conducted as part of the pre-Saemangeum Shorebird Monitoring Program) included arrivals of the first Bar-tailed Godwit (six, on March 18th: Ju Yong-Gi, Nial Moores and Geoff Styles) and the first Great Knot (705, on March 26th, Geoff Styles). For more on these counts, and details of flags, bands and satellite transmitters, please look at our websites.
Finally, a gentle reminder to all of our members, past and present, who live in Korea.
Birds Korea depends entirely on the support of our members and volunteers. Donations and domestic membership fees are vital to us, to pay for the running of two websites, to pay for our office space, to pay for materials that we send out, to pay for the SSMP and other research and advocacy work. With more funding, we can do more for our members, and for the birds! Please renew your membership (annual membership fee is only 30 000 Korean won; and life-time membership only 150 000 Korean won at this time), and help us to help the birds!
Thanks for your continuing support and interest
Birds Korea, April 3rd, 2007.