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Cranes and Skiing Hokkaido/South Korea (1 Viewer)

Arbu

Well-known member
I'm rather taken by the idea of spending a couple of weeks in either South Korea or Hokkaido to see the wintering cranes and other birds, and do a few days' skiing as well. I suppose Hokkaido would also have the Fishing Owl, Sea Eagles and pelagic birds while in South Korea you could also try for the Scaly-sided Merganser and should get Baikal Teal. Flights from London to Seoul are only about £400 while I expect they are a bit dearer to Sapporo.

If anyone is interested in joining me, or has any advice as to which would be the better destination, I'd be pleased to hear from you.

Thanks

Rob
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Never been to Korea, but I would thoroughly recommend Hokkaido in winter, both for birds and skiing.
You really need to be in the Kushiro area for birding, you have a choice for skiing but all relatively closer to Sapporo.
BF owl (and Ural owl, solitary sandpiper) nailed on at Yoroushi Onsen or another well-documented site near Rausu on NE coast; Stellers and WT sea-eagles at Lake Furen / trips to sea ice from Rausu; Japanese cranes in Tsurui area; Stejneger's scoter off Notsuke peninsula.

I had a somewhat unconventional trip due to fitting in with my family - started off in Kushiro mid Feb, then flew back to Tokyo to meet family and visit Kyoto. Got the train back from Kyoto via Tokyo and Sapporo to Furano for skiing with my son and his GF. Probably should've gone skiing earlier - by March things were warming up, we had heavy rain one day, and it had a real end of season feel, not like Alps. However, skiing was still great, off-piste trip to Asahidake active volcano was a highlight. Not many birds around the resort apart from large-billed crows, but I did have a WT sea-eagle drift slowly over the piste as I was skiing one day!
 

albatross02

Well-known member
I'm rather taken by the idea of spending a couple of weeks in either South Korea or Hokkaido to see the wintering cranes and other birds, and do a few days' skiing as well. I suppose Hokkaido would also have the Fishing Owl, Sea Eagles and pelagic birds while in South Korea you could also try for the Scaly-sided Merganser and should get Baikal Teal. Flights from London to Seoul are only about £400 while I expect they are a bit dearer to Sapporo.

If anyone is interested in joining me, or has any advice as to which would be the better destination, I'd be pleased to hear from you.

Thanks

Rob

Hokkaido has not oly Sea Eagles, they have Stellers Sea Eagle !
Excellenet place it said is Rausu.
But I have no idea where is inexpensive accomodation there.

http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~japan-birding/spot.html

I think Japan is clearly more expensive than South Korea.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Hokkaido has not oly Sea Eagles, they have Stellers Sea Eagle !
Excellenet place it said is Rausu.
But I have no idea where is inexpensive accomodation there.

http://www7b.biglobe.ne.jp/~japan-birding/spot.html

I think Japan is clearly more expensive than South Korea.

We stayed in a 'business' hotel in Kushiro which was inexpensive and good quality, close to the station and hire car depot. Everywhere else was expensive (i.e. >100EUR/night), including the hostel-like Furen Lodge and the quirky but excellent Heart n'Tree near Tsurui. Yoroushi Onsen was significantly more expensive than this, although it was a superb experience with traditional banquet included.

Conversely, Furano was cheapter than most ski resorts in Europe - £471 for 7 nights in a large traditional Japanese style room (with tea making facilities in room) at New Hakuginso. Lift passes were reasonable, and a private guided off-piste ski trip to Asahidake for 3 compared favourably to what you'd pay in the Alps.

To be sure of Steller's, you do need to go to the N / NE coast though - didn't see any around Kushiro or anywhere inland, whereas you did see the odd WTE elsewhere.

Oh and for the avoidance of doubt, I meant solitary SNIPE in my earlier post, and neither it nor Ural owl could be described as 'nailed on'...
 
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Arbu

Well-known member
Thanks. I have seen Steller's Sea Eagle before (in Kamchatka) but still wouldn't mind seeing it again. Japanese food is a lot better than Korean food (in my opinion), so that's a factor too.
 

Arbu

Well-known member
Actually, another place you can see cranes and go skiing on the same trip is California, albeit Sandhill Cranes, not so exotic. Anyway I'm off to California for the Morro Bay Bird Festival from 17-19 Jan and the Snow Goose Festival from 23-25th Jan, and will probably try to fit in a few days' skiing while there too. If anyone wants to come along and share the car hire and driving, get in touch.

btw flights from London to San Jose CA are coming in at under £300 for January. I guess most people want to go there in the summer instead.
 
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Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
You can see both eagles and also Scaly-sided Mergansers at the same place outside Seoul. It's at a place called Paldang and you can get there by metro. Baikal Teal are about an hour outside of Seoul. And the pure number of cranes you can see in Cheorwon is amazing. Most of them are White-naped, but there are a few Red-crowns, too.

All of these can be seen on day-trips from Seoul, and if you base yourself there, you won't have to worry about eating Korean food if you don't want to. But personally, I prefer Korean food to Japanese.

However, from what I've seen, you'll get closer views of the eagles in Hokkaido.
 
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Arbu

Well-known member
You can see both eagles and also Scaly-sided Mergansers at the same place outside Seoul. It's at a place called Paldang and you can get there by metro. Baikal Teal are about an hour outside of Seoul. And the pure number of cranes you can see in Cheorwon is amazing. Most of them are White-naped, but there are a few Red-crowns, too.

All of these can be seen on day-trips from Seoul, and if you base yourself there, you won't have to worry about eating Korean food if you don't want to. But personally, I prefer Korean food to Japanese.

However, from what I've seen, you'll get closer views of the eagles in Hokkaido.

Thanks. Sounds easy then. Book a week in Seoul and make day trips. No need to hire a car presumably.
 

Jeff Hopkins

Just another...observer
United States
Thanks. Sounds easy then. Book a week in Seoul and make day trips. No need to hire a car presumably.

Not sure about a car. I would never drive in central Seoul anyway. I did it once - never again. It's way too chaotic (even on Sunday) and public transport in the city is easy and abundant. The subway is in English and if you get a metro card (aka a "T-money" card) it's easy. But full disclosure: I can read the Korean alphabet, and I've been visiting Korea for over 20 years, so I'm extremely comfortable taking local buses.

I believe the Baikal Teal flock has been hanging out at Gunsan recently. That's a solid day trip from Seoul. Not sure how easy that is to do by public transport. They used to be down in Seosan, which is closer to Seoul, but which definitely requires a car. Seosan is worth the trip. Oriental White Stork is a good possibility there.

Outside of Seoul, driving is fine although a bit "aggressive". And to really see the cranes in good numbers at Cheorwon you'll need to arrange someone to get you into the Civilian Control Zone. You can't do it on your own.

FYI, there's a great area in Seoul where you can find hundreds of Mandarin Ducks (among others). It's at the confluence of JungNang Stream and Han River. I usually start at Eungbong Station and walk downstream to Oksu Station at the confluence.

I put a report on Cloudbirders a few years ago. It's here. However, the contact info for Lee ByoungWoo has changed. His company is now called Birding Korea. I recommend him highly. He also arranges group outings for expats on a regular basis, through Meetup.com. If you hook up with him, tell him I said hi.
 
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Arbu

Well-known member
Not sure about a car. I would never drive in central Seoul anyway. I did it once - never again. It's way too chaotic (even on Sunday) and public transport in the city is easy and abundant. The subway is in English and if you get a metro card (aka a "T-money" card) it's easy. But full disclosure: I can read the Korean alphabet, and I've been visiting Korea for over 20 years, so I'm extremely comfortable taking local buses.

I believe the Baikal Teal flock has been hanging out at Gunsan recently. That's a solid day trip from Seoul. Not sure how easy that is to do by public transport. They used to be down in Seosan, which is closer to Seoul, but which definitely requires a car. Seosan is with the trip. Oriental White Stork is a good possibility there.

Outside of Seoul, driving is fine although a bit "aggressive". And to really see the cranes in good numbers at Cheorwon you'll need to arrange someone to get you into the Civilian Control Zone. You can't do it on your own.

FYI, there's a great area in Seoul where you can find hundreds of Mandarin Ducks (among others). It's at the confluence of JungNang Stream and Han River. I usually start at Eungbong Station and walk downstream to Oksu Station at the confluence.

I put a report on Cloudbirders a few years ago It's here. However, the contact info for Lee ByoungWoo has changed. His company is now called Birding Korea. I recommend him highly. He also arranges group outings for expats on a regular basis, through Meetup.com. If you hook up with him, tell him I said hi.

OK, thanks. I have been to Seoul before but it was spring time so most of these birds weren't around. I won't go back this winter, but I'll try to get it in some day.
 

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