As announced yesterday the next adventure will begin in South Korea a great place to start but there is an ulterior motive,
The highly charismatic Relict Gull Larus relictus has a small, declining population, breeding very locally on steppe lakes in Mongolia and adjacent parts of Kazakhstan, Russia, and China. Once thought to be an eastern form of Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus, Relict Gulls are highly susceptible to disturbance and predation on the breeding colonies, and threatened by wetland developments in their non-breeding range: the population is put at between 2,500 and 10,000 and is listed as Vulnerable in the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Very small numbers are known to overwinter in South Korea.
Of the 54 Gulls in the world holding Full Species Status, this is the last one I need to see to complete the set. A long way to go to see a shite-hawk I hear you say, but there will be a lot more to the trip than simply that. If one is seen it would undoubtedly be the highlight of what may include 5 countries (minimum) on an undecided time scale which will be months rather than weeks long. All of this has kept me at home today, despite almost unbroken sunshine throughout, searching the Internet for flights, thumbing through the Birds of East Asia Field Guide and knocking up an endless list of things to do.
Always a great favourite wherever I go The Fish Market very extensive here.
On the strength of all this, I will have to rely on a few photographs from my last trip in 2007. Every one of the 14 full days in the country will be given over to searching for Relict Gull until one is found, but of course there should be much else to report on the way.
First port of call (literally) will be the Incheon Ferry Terminal which runs from the city to the island on which the airport is located. Here there should be extensive mud flats, perfect for these Gulls, if they haven't turned them into a Container Base or some such thing.
The slipway on the island side is itself a great catchment for various Gulls so I might even save myself a walk?
It will also be interesting to see this bridge completed,
which I seem to remember was up there with the longest suspension structures in the world.