RARE VISITOR: Above, Adrian Riegan, visiting Sinuiju North Korea in April of last year. Photo supplied

ONE of the speakers visiting the Eastern Bay for this month’s BirdsaPlenty Festival has spent the past 50 years tracking migrating birds through places few New Zealanders would have visited.

An event at Onekawa Mawahai Regional Park at Ohiwa this weekend will feature Adrian Riegan speaking about secret stopovers for New Zealand shorebirds in North Korea and tracking Pacific golden plover migration.

The west Aucklander is a builder by trade and has been studying shorebirds in his spare time around the world for 50 years.

His particular interest is the East Asian-Australasian Flyway – the migration route birds such as the bar-tailed godwit and Pacific golden plover take each year between their Arctic breeding grounds and their non-breeding grounds in Australasia, which include Ohiwa harbour.

WELL TRAVELLED: A Pacific golden plover

These studies have taken him to remote parts of Alaska and Australia and he has been involved in shorebird surveys in South Korea and China, almost annually, since 2000.

Since 2009, Adrian has visited North Korea seven times with a small team from the Pukorokoro Miranda Naturalists Trust, to survey migrating shore birds using their west coast each spring.

In the process they have been the first foreigners to visit some parts of North Korea since the 1950s.

He is also involved with satellite tracking Pacific golden plovers on their annual migration, about which, until this year, nothing was known.

Adrian will be speaking at the regional park on Saturday at 10am. A gold coin koha is appreciated.