Sunday, 11 May 2014

A trip to South Korea part one

It was curious but as I looked out the coach window at the landscape on my trip to Daejeon from Incheon airport, there was a strange feeling of familiarity about it, which I later put down to seeing old photographs of Korea from the 50's and some movies recently perhaps. The forested rippling hills with flat paddy fields in between, quickly being developed with tons of new apartment blocks. South Korea, or at least Daejeon is on the same latitude as Athens (Greece) and it has generally pretty cold winters, mediterranean springs and sub-tropical summers apparently.

I think the first bird I saw on my trip was Grey Heron, along with a bunch of Pacific Golden Plover somewhere near the Aam-Dearo area, plus loads of frustratingly distant gulls and other waders.

My first trip out with Grant was to the woods opposite his flat in Gun-dong, a nice hilly wood that turns up some good stuff. In fact we had 5 species of Woodpecker whilst standing in one area - White-backed, Great, Grey-headed, Pygmy and the least common one, Grey-capped (Pygmy) Woodpecker which surprised Grant as he had never seen one in his local wood. I only once again saw all 5 species together and that was in a Cemetery area near Wolpyeong Park that I was to spend many hours recording and birding in during the trip. This area is reached by walking a couple of miles along a river south of Gun-dong which could be quite busy at times, then got to along a path into the forest, this was to prove a perfect location, and very quiet (apart from the noisy building work on the other bank of the river).

The river was a good place to get migrants and was a regular place to see or hear Black-faced Buntings plus Olive-backed Pipits flying over. The sounds of birds in the cemetery forest were quite audible from below and White's Thrush could regularly be heard on the first visits and probably the easiest thrush to see as they were clearly nesting in here, with a max of 5 on one occasion. Plus regularly Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and Blue and White Flycatcher could be heard too. The other thrush that was on territory here was Grey-backed Thrush (Turdus hortulorum) and that was extremely hard to get anywhere near, though I did record it using my upturned umbrella.... I mean professional Chris Watson type parabolic scientific aparatus of course.

Dragon Swallowtail - pale morph
There were some pretty cool butterflies along the river path too, Blue Admiral was one that I didn't photograph, yes that's like Red Admiral but blue, basically. Plus lots of swallowtails....
Common Glider
Dragon Swallowtail - dark morph
Lilacene Bush Brown in the Cemetery

Long-tailed Spangle, when I was photographing this a couple of ladies came up to see what I was looking at, they seemed very impressed and it seems they were out foraging for plants near the cemetery.

 Regular birds in the cemetery included Japanese Tit, Azure-winged Magpie, Asian Stubtail with its insect like song, a variety of tits including the beautiful Varied Tit, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Yellow-throated Bunting, Oriental Turtle-doves and many others but some migrants appeared such as Asian Brown Flycatcher, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and towards the end of April and early May, Black-naped Orioles began to set up territories plus Dusky Thrush on one occasion and on  a few occasions, Eyebrowed Thrush. Also the strange songs of Rufous-tailed Robins began to appear in early May. 
Also one time later on in my stay I was in the Cemetery with Grant and he decided to play a recording of Siberian Blue Robin and got one responding straight away! It turned out this bird may have been singing here for two weeks and I had mistaken it for a Dusky Warbler! This time it was perched out on a branch. Here's a recording of the Siberian Blue Robin and the cricket like song of Asian Stubtail
Eyebrowed Thrush looking at me looking at him 
View south along cycle track showing the woodland south of the cemetery
Two phylloscopus species that were heard in the area were Eastern Crowned Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler, though the Yellow browed first turned up in early May.

Striated Heron
One of the most abundant birds in this part of the world is the Vinous-throated Parrotbills, little cuties they are too and the sounds they make just adds to that cuteness. Just about anything you think you might see diving into a reed bed or hedge turns out to be them. Several times I heard them calling loudly and when I tried to record them they'd strangely go quiet and hide. Not quite as cute but just as common are the incredibly noisy Brown-eared Bulbuls that seem to have taken up people watching, I often thought I was alone and was suddenly startled to realise I was being scoped by a party of Bulbuls with their presumably good eyesight, this isn't necessarily true I'm afraid but it sometimes felt that way. Or they would hide in the woods and just as was about to record something really delicate, burst into raucous screeches. When the Black-naped Orioles turned up they gave the Bulbuls a run for their money as they are quite aggressive and I noticed the Bulbuls went a bit 'sheepish' which may not be the right description for a bird. The Orioles are seemingly different from the European Golden Orioles, being apparently much bolder and easier to see. They make some gorgeous sounds as you can hear here:

Another bird that was present along the riverside later with a 'tropical' song was the Manchurian Bush Warbler, I got a distant recording of one here:

Some kind of white heron
I'll leave this section with a recording of a Blue and White Flycatcher from the cemetery and an Indian Cuckoo that turned up at the beginning of May

Korean Red Squirrel

No comments:

Post a Comment