Sunday, May 13, 2012

Slow May

Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
  Still a disturbingly quiet May here on Geoje Island, bird-wise.

The Perils

Chinese Red-headed Centipede Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans
Chinese Red-headed Centipede Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans
Bales and baggies of dried centipedes for sale at a Jeju market
  One of my scariest birding moments happened the other day. I was motor-biking around Geoje's west coast rice fields, when I came upon a heap of rotting deer faces. While studying this novel fly-ridden horror, I had an impulse to look down at my leg, and happened to see a hefty Chinese Red-headed Centipede scuttling up towards my crotch. We’re talking a red-faced, venom-fanged demon nine inches long. I swatted at it with my mercifully-gloved hand while grimacing and making a high-pitched Wuuuuuh! sound. As I swept my hand back up, the centipede clung to my glove for an instant, before spiralling through the air straight at my face in slow-motion. I flinched, and when I opened my eyes I couldn't locate it. So I jumped up and down like a ninny, swatting frantically at my clothes, doing the centipede dance. I finally spotted the brute heading into the leaf litter, and had enough time to snap a picture, before checking my underpants for damage.
  You can find these centipedes for sale at Korea’s rural markets, dried and in little bundles. Elderly Koreans grind them up for use in hillbilly energy drinks or something. Whatever floats your boat, eh.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The places

Mines...they really don't want us birding back there!
  All in all though, I can't really complain! Birding on Geoje and Busan has led me to some gorgeous spots...

Late April birds...(where are they?)

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
Varied Tit Sittiparus varius
Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus
Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus
Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Korean Water Deer Hydropotes inermis
Korean Water Deer Hydropotes inermis
 I have come to realize that I was completely spoiled on Jeju when it came to habitat. Usually, late April in Korea is a magical time filled with colourful and spectacular migrating passerines. The last three Aprils on Jeju saw me knee-deep in Brown-headed, Japanese, Siberian, and Eyebrowed Thrush, Asian Brown, Blue-and-white, and Japanese Paradise Flycatchers, Ashy Minivets, Chinese Pond Heron, Oriental Pratincole, and the sexy list goes on. And this was literally in my backyard in Seogwipo.
  Sadly, this is not the case on Geoje. I have been searching since I got here in January, but I just can't seem to find 'the spot'. Maybe there isn't one. Maybe the migrants are sticking further west - they're certainly being spotted on Jeju and places like Gageo-do.
  Last weekend JP and I went to Taejeongdae in Busan with high hopes, but we didn't see a whole lot, not even a Japanese Robin that he spotted there a while back. The birding gods are not smiling on me this time round.
  Yesterday, blessed with a rare day off, I checked out another nearby island. I found another seven Black Wood Pigeons, but not a single flycatcher or thrush (that wasn't a Pale Thrush!).
  I'm going to keep at it.