Over the few weeks since I arrived in Busan to join Grant there has been a gradual change in the weather. It has finally become less humid since Typhoon Talas came close last week, but did not cause us to have the torrential rain that Japan experienced. They are still busy repairing tracks on the mountains in preparation for autumn hikers since the rains last month. I have never let the weather stop me here….OK, there has been a time when I had a raincoat on for three hours and saw a squirrel and not a single bird in the forest and admitted defeat! I did go back a week later and enjoyed the birdlife and realised how treacherous the track would have been in the wet.
Koreans love to hike and you only have to see the huge array of clothing in the markets as well as the big brand names in numerous shops around the city to realise that it’s a serious business. I have not got myself the pink clothing…there can be too much pink on a walking track in my humble opinion! My backpack always contains ample water, raincoat and maps in Korean and English. I have discovered that there is not a walking map in English, but the Korean map is not too hard to follow and useful when you come across signs in Korean only. I have a little strategy…every sign I come to and every map I come to I photograph. I can then look back at the photo of the map when I am not sure exactly where I am when I come to a junction. There is a little problem that not all tracks are on the maps and often the most used track is not one on the map that you have photographed! I just follow in what I believe is the right direction for the way I want to go and it is always picturesque and there are always new birds to see. The disadvantage of Grant working such long hours every day that we have been here is that I always have to bird alone, so my excitement is just within myself for the moment. Then there is a bit of a panic as I try and see the bird, identify the bird, photograph the bird and then we spend the evenings sharing my birding adventures.
Here is an example of three maps I photographed as I set off on a walk on Thursday starting out in Dacheon Park in Jangsan (not Yangsan-the other end of the same metro line!)….who would have thought it was all the same place and good luck working out which track you are on!
My final verdict is that I am pretty sure I did part of all of those tracks, as I started on the first map and then spent a bit of time off all maps tracks…but heard and then saw a large woodpecker (still unsure of it’s identity!) and didn’t care! Then I know I ended on the last map…..if you are the sort of person who panics if you think you are lost….don’t try this alone! Get lost with someone else with you….I have seen Koreans look lost too, so I don’t think they are any better informed from all the maps and signs!! The most amazing thing in this mountainous area was the huge boulders that cascade down the mountains to the bottom and one of the trails took you across them. I have never seen anything like this and it was really spectacular.
I have come close to giving up on trying to photograph Varied Tits, Eastern Great Tits, Coal Tits and Long-tailed Tits. They just don’t want to sit still and the Varied Tits win the award for being the most frustrating as they come close to landing on you! I have a new found respect for anyone who photographs butterflies, as they really do test your patience, but I did have a bit of luck on Wednesday at Igidae with this one.
As I walked away from taking several photos of the butterfly I had a bird fly into a tree in front of me and it looked pretty special…..would it stay still….yes! Great, I have looked at it and I want to get some photographs of it…1, 2…..aghhhhhh….MEMORY CARD FULL!! Well, it was my lucky day as I changed the card and got more photos and I had a Blue Rock Thrush to add to my South Korea bird list….with evidence!
Blue Rock Thrush
Hiking in Busan is very rewarding and if you ever feel that the climb was not quite enough you shouldn’t panic…almost every hill has some exercise equipment on it and you can do some press-ups, run on a barrel, swing from some pipes….or just lie down! I will be hiking a lot more in my final week here before I return to Broome and get back on my bicycle!