By Michael De Rosa
Several weeks ago I was in Seoul for a chemical conference. Seoul is best known for its food, palaces, and shopping. It also has a lovely riverside park that attracts local birds and migrants. Through an online contact, with a member of the Korean Wild Bird Society, I was able to arrange a Saturday morning walk along the Tancheon Ecosystem Landscape Conservation Area with Byongwoo, a Korean birder. The Tancheon is a tributary of the Han River that flows through Seoul. Seoul is a city of 20 million and has an extensive Metro System. We arranged to meet at the Suseo station (line 3) exit #4. Exit numbers are important as some stations can have more than 10 exits, each one leading to a different destination. With signs and announcements in English, getting around is relatively easy. But we had neglected to arrange where we were to meet—so of course while I waited outside the station, he waited inside. The path is a short walk from the Metro station. He indicated we would walk about 4.5 km, and that it was a bit early for fall migrants. The path skirts the river, and there are places where you can get close to the water. During our three-hour walk we would see 19 of the 47 species that have been recorded along the trail. We shared the path with walkers and bikers. It was also the only place I saw a dog being walked.
We saw the following: Spot-billed Ducks (various places along the river); Upland Buzzard; Eurasian Magpies (many and noisy-they over winter and then head back west); Grey Heron (several, closely related to the Great Blue Heron); Yellow-throated bunting (brief views of a group of three); Eurasian Tree Sparrow (large flock-abundant through out Seoul); Black-backed Wagtail (several); Japanese Wagtail; Common Teal (Our Green-winged Teal is sometimes considered a subspecies); Long-billed Plover; Mallards; Great Cormorants (several groups resting on the river side and trees); Common Kestrel (hovering and then on a power pylon); the very lovely Daurian Redstart (several in bushes along trail); Rufus (Oriental) Turtle Dove (very common in Seoul); Brown-eared Bulbul; Great Tit; Carrion Crow; Herring Gull (flying over river).
Food is a very important part of Korean life. As you walk around it seems that everyone is either eating, or selling food. And if they are not eating, they are drinking coffee. Byongwoo invited me to lunch where I gave him a bird book. We eat at the Mandoo Restaurant-that he described as serving Korean-style Chinese dumplings. Lunch was fish cake soup, Kim pap (Korean sushi), Mandoo dumplings, and Teobbaki. This last is a staple dish made with rice cakes (in the shape of cylinders) mixed with various ingredients and sauces. In Seoul there is an entire museum devoted to rice cakes. From the restaurant he walked me back to the Metro.
We shared the path with bikers & walkers
An old friend-last bird I saw before we headed back