Thursday, March 24, 2016

Last hurrah in Korea - Deokjeok Island, March 2-6, 2016

Tim making the most of the ferry trip 

The harbour town where we stayed
Our humble abode for a week
Spartan accommodations - I love it
Construction on a bridge to nearby Soya-do
The steep road down into Pung-ri on the north coast
Pung-ri harbour
Enjoying a refreshing instant coffee in Pung-ri
Pung-ri - a strange little town
Vast scrubby reed fields in Neung-dong in the northwest corner
My old stomping grounds, Sopori - the scrubby bits around the edge of town are very productive habitat
Sheltering from a rain squall in a farm shack with Tim in Sopori
Scanning the ducks at Igae in the northeast
Good-looking habitat near Igae
Igae fields

Old school town on the east side
Deokjeok lunch
Deokjeok brekkie
45 km west of Incheon, and a similar distance south of North Korea 
Deokjeok Island, with my grueling/awesome March 6th walk highlighted in red
 Deokjeok-do, an island west of Incheon, was the first island I went to in Korea (wayyyy back in 2005), and it got me hooked. The kind and humble islanders, relaxed vibe, gorgeous habitat, and exciting array of bird species induced me to return a dozen times in two years, when I was living up near Seoul. My Deokjeok memories also heavily influenced my decision to relocate to Jeju Island in late 2008 - a choice I almost never regretted.
  To wrap up my final sojourn in Korea, Tim Edelsten (also a Deokjeok devotee) and I went to Deokjeok and stayed in the harbour in the northeast corner - 'his' side of the island. I had always stayed at Sopori beach in the south, so it was fun to show each other 'our' patches of the island, as well as pioneer some amazing new tracts of habitat.
  In spite of several troubling new signs of development, there is still an abundance of mouthwatering habitat on the island, especially for migrants. It was a bittersweet farewell trip, as I won't be returning to a Korean island anytime soon. With spring migration already starting up, it will hurt to not be there birding all day long. I will have to live vicariously through the several birders left in Korea this spring.
  One of the highlights of the trip was seeing good numbers of Light-vented Bulbuls in several locations. My first experience with this handsome bird was on Deokjeok in March of 2008, and the first Korean record for this rapidly-colonizing Chinese species was only several years before that. Other highlights included hearing a Eurasian Nuthatch (a rare offshore record), and spotting a Grey-backed Thrush - a species that is seldom recorded in winter in Korea.
  More importantly, it was amazing to get to spend some time birding and hanging out with Tim before I left. Regretfully I wasn't able to do that with all of my Korean birding buddies, but thankfully I was able to see them all at least once in the past year. I will miss that wacky pack of misfits.

A reminder to check out Tim's comprehensive report from our Deokjeok trip:

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