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B.I.R.D.S. Club Field Trip: Junam Reservoir and Myeongji Tidal Flat

by Jason Loghry, November 14, 2015

On Saturday, BIRDS Club students traveled together to Junam Reservoir in the morning, and then on to the Nakdong Estuary (Myeongji tidal  flat) in the afternoon. Both destinations are about a 30 minutes drive from our school, which makes them convenient locations for our students and other area residents who are interested in birds. Two members of Birds Korea, Mr. Ha Jung Moon and Ms. Seo Haemin,  joined for the day to share their expertise with the students. Both of them are university students, and very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about birds and conservation. The weather for the day was good. It was cloudy and damp from rain of the night before, but not as cool as expected for a mid-November morning.

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Obang BIRDS Club at Junam Reservoir © Min Sungeun

This was our club’s first trip to watch birds away from the school grounds. Students were thrilled from the moment they stepped off the bus. There were two teams, both of them given a home-made field guide and checklist. Teams were asked to keep a list of the birds they saw and to check off at which location they were seen. At Junam, there were many wintering ducks on the main lake, so it was a good chance for students to see Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, and Coots at close-range. At first, it was as if the students were overwhelmed with the abundance of bird life. There was so much to be seen. I was overwhelmed with the abundance of smiles and happy faces. There were quite many Bean Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese. Every time a flock of geese flew overhead, students put their binoculars to use and tried to focus in for the ID. The sounds of birds flying overheard and calling from all directions were such an impressive contrast to the usual sounds of the urban drag. Students seemed excited but relaxed. We walked the length of the main lake. Some students spotted a Bull-headed Shrike. Mr. Ha and Ms. Seo explained to them in detail about how this species feeds and what it feeds on. They hadn’t expected such behavior from such a small bird.

Most of the students seemed very interested in getting good looks at the biggest birds on the lake, Whooper Swan. Taking turns looking through the scopes, one our most keen students, Shim Haejin, tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Teacher, what is this? It looks different.” I leaned into the scope for a view and saw not one, but two immature Mute Swan. She picked them out because they looked a little different. She was right! Quiet high-fives and even more smiles went around the team as we eagerly peered over the lake from behind the blind. The morning went quickly, and we finished by searching for wintering cranes. Unfortunately, we were unable to find them so we headed off for lunch.

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Myeongji tidal flat © Min Sungeun

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BIRDS Club students watching a Saunders’s Gull © Min Sungeun

After lunch we went to the Nakdong Estuary. We visited the Myeongji tidal flat. The tide was out and there were several bird species feeding on the flat. Looking across the flat, you could find Eurasian Widgeon, Mallard, Pintail, more Whooper Swan, and also shorebird species like Eurasian Curlew, Common Greenshank, and Grey Plover. There were also many birders watching the tidal flat, and a few photographers as well. It was the first time students had visited the tidal flat. We wanted to make sure they were able to see the variety of species that use the tidal flat, and also help them understand how our presence effected those species and their habitat. We walked down to the flat and watched for a short time, giving students a chance to look at many species they had never seen before. They had good views of Black-headed Gull and a Saunders’s Gull feeding on worms. From behind the blind, they were able to see Eurasian Spoonbill and Black-faced Spoonbill. We finished off with an activity asking students to draw things they saw around them, labeling what is natural and artificial. After giving them some time to think and work together in groups, we talked about what was likely good for birds and habitat, and what likely wasn’t. The students did great work, with some good commentary, and many of their drawings were thoughtful. We could see and hear connections being made.

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BIRDS Club at Myeongji tidal flat © Min Sungeun & Jason Loghry

This was our final outing with this year’s club students. I really enjoyed the day with them and with Mr. Min Sungeun, my co-teacher and partner with the club. I’m very grateful for all the work he has done with the students throughout the school year. His encouragement has made a big difference in these classes, and the club students will always remember what they learned from him. Also, I would like to say thank you to Birds Korea for advising on the activities and to the Birds Korea volunteers, Mr. Ha and Ms. Seo, for sharing your time and experience! Happy Birding from Obang BIRDS Club!

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