Shorebirds of the Yellow Sea

Importance, threats and conservation status
Mark Barter
Wetlands International, 2002
ISBN 90 5882 009 2

4. Shorebirds occuring in internationally important numbers at Yellow Sea sites (continued)

4.4 Species accounts (continued)

4.4.4 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Subspecies Worldwide 4 (phaeopus, alboaxillaris, variegatus and hudsonicus); Yellow Sea 1 (variegatus).

Distribution of N. p. variegatus

Breeding: n. central and e. Yakutia, and Chukotka.

Non-breeding: Coastal. Thailand, Indochina, s. China, se. Asia, New Guinea, w. Pacific Islands and Australia.

Usage and importance of Yellow Sea

Occurrence: Intertidal and near-coastal areas. NM Widespread and common in China and South Korea. SM Much less common than during NM. Numbers are probably significantly underestimated, as this species is often spread thinly over upper tidal flats and around banks of mariculture ponds both of which are difficult to count effectively.

Movements: NM In China, numbers build up from mid-April onwards, peaking in late April and May. Maximum numbers occur in South Korea during first-half of May. SM Maximum numbers occur in South Korea during August. Lower numbers on SM indicate that some birds may return non-stop across Pacific to w. Pacific, se. Asia and Australia.

Significance of Yellow Sea: The Yellow Sea is very important for this species as it probably supports about 50% of the estimated flyway population during NM. Lower numbers occur during SM.

Key sites: 9 sites of international importance have been identified, 5 in South Korea and 4 in China, all during NM (see site location map below).

Status of key sites: 3 of the Chinese sites and a small part of 1 of the South Korean sites (Dongjin Gang Hagu) are within Protected Areas. The Dongjin and Mangyeung estuaries are currently being reclaimed as part of the Saemangeum Reclamation Project.

Major gaps in knowledge: Incomplete geographical and temporal coverage in China, especially of coastal non-tidal wetlands. No information from North Korea.

Status: Passage migrant
Estimated minimum numbers:
NM: South Korea: 7 600; China: 22 000.
SM: South Korea: 1 900.
South Korea: 5 (part of 1)
China: 4 (3)

Site count references

  1. Zhu et al. 2000
  2. Yi & Kim in prep.
  3. Barter et al. 2000d
  4. J.J. Lu in litt.
Sites of international importance for Whimbrel (all used during northward migration)
Sites of international importance for Whimbrel (all used during northward
  Site Country Count Ref
1 Huang He NNR China 2 626 1
2 Asan Man South Korea 1 310 2
3 Shuangtaizihekou NNR China 1 306 3
4 Chongming Dao PNR China 1 200 4
5 Dongjin Gang Hagu South Korea 1 070 2
6 Yeong Jong Do South Korea 825 2
7 Jiu Duan Sha China 800 4
8 Namyang Man South Korea 740 2
9 Mangyeung Gang Hagu South Korea 620 2