The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is not visited regularly by birders yet as a small country, with varied habitats and a wonderful mix of species, including large numbers of waterbirds, it offers the chance to see many rare species and regional endemics in a short space of time. In addition to several East Asian specials, many of which are globally threatened, including White-naped, Hooded & Red-crowned Cranes as well as Steller’s Sea Eagle, many other species of special interest to European and North American birders are present as regular migrants, some presenting identification challenges, from Pacific Loons and Slaty-backed Gulls to Dusky Thrushes, Siberian Accentors and Pallas’s Reed Buntings. This short tour provides multiple chances to see and enjoy several of South Korea’sstand-out species such as Scaly-sided Merganser and Steller’s Sea Eagle, with a boat trip in order to get close-up views of several Pacific alcids and loons off the northeast coast. Although mammals are more challenging to find, species seen in recent winter tours to these sites include (Korean) Water Deer, Raccoon Dog, Eurasian River Otter and Amur Leopard Cat.

Beginning in the northeast of the country we will effectively make a full circuit of the nation and as this tour itinerary has in-built flexibility to take into account most recent bird news and weather conditions we expect to find a very high proportion of the target species. The pace of the trip gives us ample time to locate the target species and at the same time enjoy the abundance of birdlife found in South Korea, with multiple chances at all the rarest species.

Monday 27th January - Friday 7th Feb 


Here are just a few of the key species we will be targetting on this tour:

  • Swan Goose
  • Lesser White-fronted Goose
  • Falcated Duck
  • Harlequin Duck
  • Stejneger’s White-winged Scoter
  • Scaly-sided Merganser
  • Hazel Grouse
  • Oriental Stork
  • Temminck’s Cormorant
  • Eurasian Eagle Owl
  • Cinereous Vulture
  • Steller’s Sea Eagle
  • White-naped Crane
  • Hooded Crane
  • Red-crowned Crane
  • Long-billed Plover
  • Solitary Snipe
  • Saunder’s Gull
  • Relict Gull
  • Glaucous-winged Gull
  • Vega Gull
  • Slaty-backed Gull
  • Brunnich’s Guillemot
  • Spectacled Guillemot
  • Long-billed Murrelet
  • Ancient Murrelet
  • Rhinoceros Auklet
  • Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
  • White-backed Woodpecker
  • Chinese Grey Shrike
  • Bull-headed Shrike
  • Daurian Jackdaw
  • Varied Tit
  • Pale Thrush
  • Dusky Thrush
  • Naumann’s Thrush
  • Japanese Wagtail
  • Long-tailed Rosefinch
  • Pallas’s Rosefinch
  • Asian Rosy Finch
  • Yellow-throated Bunting
  • Pallas’s Reed Bunting

Leaders: Nick Upton and Nial Moores. 

Ground Price:  £3350.00  - Seoul/Seoul

Airfare:  £650 - £795 (Approx) - UK/UK

Single supplement: There isn’t one. No twin rooms available in South Korea so everyone will have single accommodation.

Deposit: £500.00

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 4.

Included in cost: Accommodation, transport, all meals, English-speaking guide, all entrance fees and permits, road tolls, boat trips, water.

Not included: International airfare, travel insurance, visas, alcoholic drinks, tips and items of personal nature.

Accommodation: Motels will be the form of accommodation used. These are extremely clean, warm and pleasant places to stay with excellent internet connections .

Tour Code: South Korea is a highly developed country with all the comforts of modern life. Most birding will be done by scanning open areas and taking short and easy walks; the level of physical effort needed will be very low although the search for Hazel Grouse could involve some easy off-trail walking on fairly steep slopes. There will be journeys of several hours between sites on most days although we will be travelling in a comfortable vehicle.

To maximize birding time there will be picnic lunches and hot evening meals will be taken in local Korean restaurants.

Expect the weather conditions to be cold and dry in midwinter South Korea. There could perhaps be one day or more of precipitation (most of precipitation tends to be on the east coast: snow can be absent or 2-3m deep).  In cold winters, minima at dawn can be as low as -20C rising to -10C in Cheorwon. In mild winters, temperatures range from -10C at night in the coldest areas to +13C in Busan and the southeast as maximum.