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Chlidonias Goes To Asia, part three: 2013 (1 Viewer)

Chlidonias

Well-known member
In a couple of weeks I will be setting off again on another Asian trip. The previous two threads are http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=180538 (2009) and http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=207985 (2011) if you want to get up to speed. This one is a bit different to the others because the first four countries of this trip I have never been to before, which is exciting (or five countries if you include Hong Kong airport.....and count Hong Kong as a country.....). But I’m not going to say what they are or where else I’m going or even how long I’ll be travelling for. This will be a thread of surprises – not least for me, because I've pretty much been working seven days a week for most of the last year-and-a-half so I haven’t really had a lot of time to do as much prep-work as I would have liked!! As usual I will be travelling alone, no guides, no language skills, no hope....

I can promise some very interesting and exciting animals along the way though (or, at the very least, searches for those animals; finding them will be another matter entirely!!).

A little background to this trip: I got sick of working so I decided to just go travelling again. The end.

I’m at my best when I’m wandering. One of my favourite quotes is from Jack London, “The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

Or, I guess, from Jack Sparrow: “Better to not know which moment may be your last....every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all. And who's to say I won't live forever, hey? It's a pirates life for me. Savvy!”

Arr matey, I know it will be a good trip because I got a new passport and it has birds on the pages inside!! How’s that for foreshadowing?!
 

chris butterworth

aka The Person Named Above
Sounds brilliant mate - and slightly mental :t: Some of my best trips have been based on a bird list and lots of faith in serendipity, the gods of chance, a belief that public transport timetables do really exist and the mantra "What's the worst that could happen?" Really looking forward to hearing about your wanderings. Good luck. B :)

Chris
 

Chlidonias

Well-known member
Sounds brilliant mate - and slightly mental :t: Some of my best trips have been based on a bird list and lots of faith in serendipity, the gods of chance, a belief that public transport timetables do really exist and the mantra "What's the worst that could happen?" Really looking forward to hearing about your wanderings. Good luck. B :)
I have the basic bones for the first few weeks set due to visa reasons but not really any particular know-how for the details. The next few months after that I have an outline for and a rough idea of how to get here and there but it is rather vague in parts and very clear in other parts. After that it's a mix of countries I have and haven't been to before so that'll be fun too. Nothing's really set after the first four or five months though......I could end up anywhere!
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Or, I guess, from Jack Sparrow: “Better to not know which moment may be your last....every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all. And who's to say I won't live forever, hey? It's a pirates life for me. Savvy!”

Arr matey, I know it will be a good trip because I got a new passport and it has birds on the pages inside!! How’s that for foreshadowing?!

...and I can vouch for there being at least a passing physical resemblance between Jack Sparrow and our Chlid come to think of it! ;)
 

Frogfish

Well-known member
Sounds like a brilliant trip .. can't wait to read some of your reports as inspiration to my ever extending list of places to bird ;

PNG & Nepal are the latest additions and I'll certainly be going back to Sabah !
 

Chlidonias

Well-known member
I set off from New Zealand on the 3rd of August, flying Wellington to Auckland where I had a three hour wait, then a very bumpy flight from Auckland to Hong Kong where I had a six hour wait, and then Hong Kong to Seoul where it was the end of the next day. I stayed inside the airport at Hong Kong and met up with MkinHK, who bought me breakfast which was good because I had no Hong Kong dollars, so I'll buy him lunch when I return (I think that was his plan, to make sure I came back to Hong Kong). He also pretty much sealed me going to Japan, which I wasn't going to, by telling me about the Ryukyu giant long-tailed rat – and if there's one thing I like it's a giant rat! I passed some more time looking out the windows with my binoculars but all I saw were a couple of white birds flying over the ocean which I figure were reef herons, and a couple of mynahs perching on a distant pole so I don't know which species.

Now, South Korea isn't actually a destination country on this trip, more of a passing-through country. It wasn't in the original plans and was only added in because it was the easiest route to get to the first proper country, and I only have nine days here. August is also the absolute worst time to visit Korea. It is the middle of summer, usually between thirty and forty degrees with high humidity and there are few birds around. Not that many birders go to South Korea anyway! But those that do go in the winter when all the migrant waterfowl and waders and so forth are here. This time of year, not so much around.

I left the Windflower Guesthouse at 5.30am on my first morning to try and get to Dongmak lagoon early. It was already so hot that just the short walk to the subway left my t-shirt wet with sweat. Dongmak is just on the edge of Seoul, and the lagoon there has a breeding colony of black-faced spoonbills. It is easy to get to, just three train rides from where I was staying. I got there at about 8am and quickly found the lagoon. The first birds I saw were spot-billed ducks, loads of them, along with a great flock of gulls loafing around on a mud-bank in the middle. New Zealand has three species of gulls, all very easy to identify: the field guide for east Asia has nine pages of gulls! There was no way I was going to be able to identify those at the distance they were at so I was going to pretend they weren't there, but fortunately I soon found a few which were much closer, and even more fortunately they were black-tailed gulls, probably the easiest species to identify due to the bill markings. There were a few (very few) sandpiper type jobs wandering here and there but none close enough to conclusively identify for me. In the middle of the lagoon is a big ugly pile of rocks and dirt, and that is the island for the spoonbills. Sure enough there were about ten of them perched on top. Black-billed spoonbills are the rarest of all the spoonbills. They were also my main bird I wanted to see in South Korea, so that was nice and easy. And that was pretty much it for the water birds apart for lots and lots of grey herons, great white egrets and great cormorants. Like I said, not exactly the best time of year for birding in Korea!

There were a few birds in the trees between the lagoon and the road, but again only a few. Only two of them were new for me. Oriental turtle doves kept flying out of trees just ahead and disappearing. I knew they were Streptopelia and I knew the only one here should be the Oriental turtle dove but it took a while before I managed to see some perched so I could actually look at them. The other lifer was a bit more tricky because I didn't have a clue what it was! The first ones I saw I thought must be juveniles of something because of the way they looked and the noise they were making, but I kept seeing them without any “adult” birds with them, and eventually I got a long enough look at one to figure out it was actually a brown-eared bulbul! One of the more nondescript birds I must say! But it is the most northerly species of bulbul, so that probably counts for something. The only other passerines I saw were tree sparrow, great tit and common magpie (although depending on how you want to split them, those last two could also be considered lifers, as eastern tit and Chinese magpie).

After spending the morning not seeing much at Dongmak, I took another three trains from there to the COEX Aquarium, which was pure madness. I've never been in an aquarium so packed with people before. My sole reason for going was to see African manatees, of which they have three, and which I saw despite the crowds. So now, with regards to sea cows, I have seen dugong at Sydney Aquarium, West Indian manatee at Singapore Zoo, and African manatee at COEX Aquarium. Just the Amazonian manatee to go, but there are none outside South America. Of course I haven’t seen any of those in the wild yet but, you know, baby steps.

The next day (today) I went to the Seoul Zoo which is huge and not really suitable for visiting in summer heat. The other thing with South Korea's summer is that it is also the rainy season, so a good portion of my time there was spent sheltering from an enormous thunderstorm. It has now topped my list for places where I have seen the hardest rain! The only additional bird for the day was large-billed crow (which I'm sure has been split as well but never mind).

Tiny trip list so far:

1)Feral pigeon Columba livia
2)Spot-billed duck Anas poecilorhyncha
3)Great white egret Egretta alba (Eastern white egret E. modesta)
4)Grey heron Ardea cinerea
5)Great cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
6)Black-faced spoonbill Platalea minor
7)Black-tailed gull Larus crassirostris[

8)Black-crowned night heron Nycticorax nycticorax
9)Common magpie Pica pica (Chinese magpie P.sericea)
10)Tree sparrow Passer montanus
11)Great tit Parus major (Eastern tit P. minor)
12)Brown-eared bulbul Microscelis amaurotis
13)Oriental turtle dove Streptopelia orientalis

14)Large-billed crow Corvus macrorhynchos
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Very good to meet you on Saturday - and apologies for diverting you to Okinawa with the Ryukyu Rat! There are a few birds there too . . . .

You may be interested to hear that budget airline Peach has just announced it will begin offering a flight from Iriomote to Okinawa, which might help your island hopping.

As for breakfast . . . amazing the power a ham sandwich can have!

Your Myna was Crested (the only one we have), and the since our Reef Egret is usually black (99.5% of records) the egrets were either Little or Great.

Cheers
Mike
 

Gretchen

Well-known member
"Peach" is not just "peachy" in Asia - in China at least it is associated with heaven and immortality (see Journey to the West).
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
..and as you're mentioning the split options, I think your Spot-billed Duck might be a 2 or 3-way split too (yellow-nibbed?). Wot, no ravaging dogs yet? ;).Good luck with the next bit.
 

Chlidonias

Well-known member
Very good to meet you on Saturday - and apologies for diverting you to Okinawa with the Ryukyu Rat! There are a few birds there too . . . .

You may be interested to hear that budget airline Peach has just announced it will begin offering a flight from Iriomote to Okinawa, which might help your island hopping.

As for breakfast . . . amazing the power a ham sandwich can have!

Your Myna was Crested (the only one we have), and the since our Reef Egret is usually black (99.5% of records) the egrets were either Little or Great.

Cheers
Mike
that's good news about the flight to Okinawa. I did some googling in the Hong Kong airport and found then that there was only access to Iriomote by boat from the neighbouring island, but that island has an air connection to Taiwan which is also handy.

I'm not including the airport birds on my list because they were very distant. I'll add them properly when I get back to HK.
 

Chlidonias

Well-known member
..and as you're mentioning the split options, I think your Spot-billed Duck might be a 2 or 3-way split too (yellow-nibbed?). Wot, no ravaging dogs yet? ;).Good luck with the next bit.
the East Asia book says the spot-bill in Korea is zonorhyncha but I'm just keeping them unsplit (I have a subspecies list as well, so I still know what I've seen whether I split it or not).
 
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