Sunday, October 28, 2018

Gangneung week the third, October 21-28, 2018

Plenty of productive, scruffy habitat along the Namdae River
Samgak chamchi kimbap on my favourite river rock - an important mid-walk ritual

Wildlife stairs in Gyeongpo Lake Park
Wildlife stairs in an adjacent farm field
My friendly neighbourhood Red-billed Starling flock (+2 Chinese Grosbeak)
Eastern Great Tit Parus minor 
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Stejneger’s Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri
An odd female Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus with
muted wing patches and overall scruffy plumage - young bird?
skulky Black-faced Bunting Emberiza spodocephala
spot the Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens
Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos kizuki
(Let's hope a Japanese princess doesn't steal this image...)
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra
Rook Corvus frugilegus
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrid
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrid
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrid
Ussuri Mamushi Pitviper Gloydius blomhoffi
Praying Mantis sp.
  Dynamic turnover here on the lovely Gangwon coast, with new personal Gangneung firsts on every day out. Some of the breeding species that I saw in early October are gone, and the feeling is one of less migrants on the move of late. I’m getting a better feel for the resident species, as well as the birds that call this corner of the province their winter home. My Gangneung list has almost cracked 100, and my ‘house list’ is also creeping up - I should eclipse my 2013 Seogwipo apartment list (26) soon. But who’s keeping lists, eh?
  A three-hour exploratory walk west along the Namdaechon on October 21 turned up very little of interest, apart from a fat little Ussuri Mamushi Pitviper. I ended up in the middle of literal nowhere, and I had to get creative when it came to getting back to town. That’s all part of the fun though, innit?
  On that note, I probably won’t be getting a motorcycle, or even a bicycle, this time round. No wheels is a bit sad, but the habitat here just doesn’t justify it. Unlike Suncheon, it’s not a ‘drive there and walk in a big circle’ type of place. The two main patches, the Namdae River and Gyeongpo Lake, both demand a lot of linear walking to check all the birdy nooks and crannies. Whereas at first I was doing both in a single day, as I find more of those nooks in each spots, I’ve split the two spots up into separate days now, to better scour each properly (and not blow my legs out!).
  On October 26, Younghwan introduced me to some of the nice folks that work at Gyeongpo Lake, and we shared coffee and bird gossip. I noticed the ditches in and around the lake feature ‘wildlife stairs,’ which allow small creatures to escape the concrete deathtraps – nice to see, let’s hope they catch on. A young Northern Goshawk and another Amur Falcon stood out.
  The following day at the lake, two Whooper Swans and two Whiskered Terns were personal Gangneung firsts.
  On October 28, a walk along the river went from sunny to gloomy and rainy, then back again. Starting to really understand and enjoy the habitat along the river, which cuts the town in half. I live in the southern bit, with the farmers. The day was notable for its clean air and clear water – loads of fish in the river. Gangneung firsts were a Long-billed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Black-faced Bunting, probable Ochre-rumped Bunting, and Long-tailed Rosefinch, all along the Namdaechon.
  What else? I thought I knew few things about terns…terns out I didn’t. See what I did there? Bunting variety is picking up, which is awesome because I loves me my skulkers. Other than a few Dusky Thrushes, the same can’t be said about thrushes yet. Not even a single Pale Thrush! Hoping for more species of thrush soon.
  Or should I say ‘spices of thrush,’ as Younghwan does. I think that is adorable, and I may use it from now on instead of ‘species.’ Younghwan is an awesome dude, for real.
  In other news, there’s an annoying squeak in the rigging of my camera bag that haunts my perambulations, but it seems to bring out the buntings, so I’m not fixing it.

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