Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Historical post" - Birding Korea 2006

Talking raptors with a new friend atop Bijobong Mountain, Deokjeok Island
About as good as that little camera got - Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Spot the Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Old Korea rots into the weeds, in the Gimpo countryside
Looking down on Gimpo
Downtown Gimpo, circa 2006
The monstropolis: Seoul, 2006
Seoul at night
A South Korean soldier at the DMZ - in the background is the North Korean town of Kijong-dong, above which flies the heaviest flag in the world (600 pounds) 
Close the windows! Aftermath of...
...the dreaded mosquito fog truck!
Soju and a Jindo pup, doesn't get more Korean than that
  In 2006 I got a bit more serious about birding in Korea, but was still using a pair of cheapie binos (like looking through two straws with Vaseline smeared on your eyeballs), and a wee point and shoot digital camera to take silly ID snaps. Most of my birding was done in the hills of Gimpo, and because I had no real camera (and no immediate desire to acquire one), I birded from the hip, olllllld schoooool. “Hey look at that bird, I have no clue what it is. Let me look in my field guide and try to game out what species it is...” Ha ha, it all seems so quaint.
  On these sweaty bimbles among the military bunkers that all pointed to nearby North Korea, I was thrilled to be introduced to charismatic species that would later come to herald the arrival of summer in Korea for me, such as Oriental Dollarbird, Black-naped Oriole, and Common Cuckoo.
  I also went on several trips to Deokjeok-do that year, which began my decade-long love affair with that island, and small Korean islands in general. It would be another two years before I purchased a DSLR camera, and another three years before I would meet another member of Birds Korea.

  A trip to Gangwha Island in the winter to search for Red-crowned Cranes was woefully under-researched, and met with a predictable fate.
  In the fall of 2006, I moved to Taiwan for six months. While I managed to get a taste of that island’s mouth-watering array of endemic species, I left in a hurry in the spring of 2007, without ever properly going on any serious birding trips, and I regret that.
  I recently talked with a friend who visited Gimpo last year, and he said that most of the rice-fields and wild foothills we used to roam are now jammed with apartment complexes. The grass is always greener in the past, I suppose.

(*Note: This is a “historical post.” Whereas I started birding in Korea in 2005, this blog has only been active since early 2012 - these posts are an attempt to consolidate my early birdventures from the various blogs and websites where they reside, largely from the “Archived Bird News“ section of Birds Korea’s excellent website: Find more historical posts by clicking on the "Historical posts" tab at the bottom of this post.)