In March 2019 Nial Moores, Bernhard Seliger (Hanns Seidel Foundation, Korea office), Cheng Qian (UNESCAP) and Guo Jin, Han Yongxiang and Yang Ziyou (SBS in China, Shanghai) and members of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society went to Rason to conduct a bird survey. The survey was conducted from March 15-19 and from March 21-26.
Group Two at Sobonpo (Photo Credits: © Nial Moores)
In back-to-back birdwatching tours, a total of 131-133 bird species and five mammal species were logged in Rason. Lots of turnover and visible migration was enjoyed most days, including a rapid build-up in duck numbers, high-flying flocks of Grey Heron and long skeins of geese crossing the bays and hills on their way north out of Korea and on into China and Russia.
View across Sobonpo: with crowds of dabbling duck and a long string of swans (Photo Credits: © Nial Moores)
The wildlife highlights included spectacular and close encounters with tens of thousands of duck and three species of swan on the freshwater Sobon lake (within Rason Ramsar site); Glaucous and Slaty-backed Gulls along the coast and on thawing lake ice; and from land, stunning views of both scoters, of Harlequin Duck, and of Long-tailed Duck as their plumages progressed from ice-white to tundra-brown; close views too of Spectacled Guillemot, Long-billed Murrelet and Ancient Murrelet; and more distant scope views of three species of loon and five species of grebe, many of which were coming into breeding plumage.
Slaty-backed Gull (Photo Credits: © Nial Moores)
The team also enjoyed a very good spread of land birds – many found during near-daily morning walks from our hotel – including three species of woodpecker, a single calling and singing Willow Tit, several Chinese Nuthatch, Eurasian Treecreeper, plentiful Long-tailed Rosefinch, a small group of Pallas’s Rosefinch and close to Sobonpo, two possible Jankowski’s Bunting.
Eurasian Treecreeper (Photo Credit: © Nial Moores)
There are different reasons as for why birdwatching-based ecotourism is a way of opening minds and hearts and a way of trying to progress towards genuinely wise and sustainable use of Rason’s natural resources.
Birds Korea’s Blog Entry on Rason, March 15-26: The First “Early Spring Tour Spectaculars”