Thursday, July 16, 2015

Double-dipping Part 1 AKA Just Stick to Your Patch

Ferry to Nami Island
Tim, birding
Black Woodpecker holes...minus the Black Woodpeckers
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus Canus
Young Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos, begging
Siberian Chipmunk Eutamias sibiricus
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
  Lured by the tantalizing prospect of potentially seeing five lifers (Ruddy Kingfisher, Black Woodpecker, Northern Boobook Owl, Eastern Tawny Owl, and Northern Scops Owl), I hauled my tired carcass up to Gapyeong, via Seoul, in the ungodly wee hours of June 27th. Just outside of town lies Nami Island, a lenticular wooded spot that is clogged with selfie-stick-wielding tourists. For some reason, the five aforementioned species, which are local and hard to see in Korea, regularly summer on the busy island.
  A key factor that contributed to my decision to brave the logistical morass that is Seoul was the prospect of meeting up with fellow Birds Koreans and all-around good eggs Tim and Subho. Seeing Tim again was a treat, and we had a grand old time bantering about birds, Koreans, and everything in between.
  The first sign of trouble on Nami was the conspicuous lack of Korean birding paparazzi. The rare and twitchable birds of Nami are like honey to the swarms of camouflaged Korean guys with massive lenses, no binoculars, and often questionable fieldcraft/ethics. We wandered through the gaudy crowds for hours in a vain effort to spot one of the island's rarities, but the grim reality was evident fairly soon on - I'd waited perhaps one or two weeks too long to head up there, and the young birds had apparently already fledged and left the island.
  Not wanting to admit defeat, I told Subho to stay home, said my goodbyes to Tim, and got a room in dumpy and unfriendly Gapyeong. I was up before dawn on the 28th, and headed up a promising mountain in the hopes of running into a Ruddy Kingfisher. Awesome dawn chorus, but nothing crazy. I then made my way back through Seoul and headed home.
  What's the moral of this tale of woe? Don't twitch. Stay home and explore your own patch. Visit promising spots repeatedly, even if there are no interesting birds on a given day. Look at Google Earth, and think like a bird. Every spot has interesting birds moving through it at some point. Go find them.

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