Monday, August 17, 2015

A Jeju Return, July 28 - August 2, 2015

Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus
young Tiger Keelback Rhabdophis tigrinus
adult Tiger Keelback Rhabdophis tigrinus
young Black Paradise Flycatcher (Japanese Paradise Flycatcher) Terpsiphone atrocaudata
Streaked Shearwater Calonectris leucomelas
Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes on Gapa-do
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus

Sea snakes - wanted dead or alive
Headed to Gapa-do
Searching for Ruddy Kingfishers at dawn with Mike
Ruddy Kingfisher habitat 
Mid-day skies
  Lacking a better idea and daydreaming our way through life, Helly and I returned to Jeju for our brief summer holiday. It was definitely odd being back after leaving for the last time...again. A lot has changed in a year, for the worse. Voracious development, mostly fueled by Chinese money, continues unabated. Chinese condo towns, looking like ugly concrete tombstones for Jeju's environment, have sprouted up on once-quiet slopes of Halla Mountain. Sleepy coastal towns now invariably have several nouveau-Bohemian establishments marring the scene. These are usually garishly-painted fish and chip shops or cafes, run by Korean guys with moustaches and Peruvian pants, and they all offer an identically bland experience. There is the mandatory surfboard out front, broadcasting the generic 'funky' hippy decor inside, for the clots of selfie-stick-wielding yuppie mainland tourists to take pictures in front of. I'm not buying it any more.
  Rants aside, it was great to wander through the vestiges of my one-time patch, and see a few old friends. On the 29th, we chose the hottest day in 73 years to visit Gapa-do (41ºC), and it was miserable. Very few birds in evidence, no shade to speak of, and hours to kill before the return ferry. Shambles.
  The next day, I met up with good ol' Mike pre-dawn to walk a trail where Fairy Pittas and Black Paradise Flycatchers breed,and where I've heard Northern Boobooks and Ruddy Kingfishers (shakes fist at sky, swearing lustily) in the past. We encountered P-flies at several spots on the river, mostly younger birds from this summer's brood. The young birds have blackish eye-rings and bills, as opposed to the shocking blue on adult birds. At one point, a young P-fly was 'playing' with a young Great Tit, and it was amusing to watch them take turns chasing one another around a tree, seemingly having fun doing it.
  Frustratingly true to form, we heard several Boobooks, often from quite close overhead, without seeing one. We also heard what was probably a Ruddy Kingfisher, or possibly a very odd woodpecker.
  I managed to get one new bird on the trip - a Swinhoes's Storm Petrel from the boat before getting to Jeju.
  Currently back in Suncheon, waiting for the heat bubble to break, being turned into (more of) a reclusive curmudgeon by it.


  1. Hi Mike

    I am a kiwi birder who has just moved to live in the GEC, on Jeju. I would love more info on "... trail where Fairy Pittas and Black Paradise Flycatchers breed,and where I've heard Northern Boobooks and Ruddy Kingfishers..." if you are willing to share the location.


    Wayne Hodgkinson

  2. Hi Will,
    No worries, send me an email - mattpoll24 at gmail dot com