Bird News from Bradlee Sulentic
Even though I’ve been a birder for less than 5 years, it is days like today that remind me of why I love birding. My companion for today’s outing was my beautiful six year old son, Anthony, who is becoming quite the birder and champion for conservation. I couldn’t have asked for a better birding buddy (apologies to all the fine gentlemen at Birds Korea, but it’s not even close).
We started out at 10:00 this morning and drove the 90 minutes it takes to get to Cheonsuman. We saw only two Eurasian Kestrels and no Eastern Buzzards on the way down, which is quite low compared to previous trips. When we pulled up to the southeast corner of Seosan Lake A, Anthony’s excitement level rose quickly, knowing that the fun was about to begin. Early looks at Common Goldeneye and especially Baikal Teal put a huge smile on his face. As we traveled up the eastern shore of Lake A my early wonder about the absence of geese vanished with looks at a flock of several Greater White-fronted Geese. This was just a prelude of things to come.
My interest in a smaller flock of “geese” flying near the large flock piqued when something about them told me I wasn’t looking at geese. I quickly realized I was looking at my first Korean cranes. My excitement spilled over to my son and we spent long minutes scoping a flock of 400+ Hooded Cranes. Mixed in with this large flock of Hooded Cranes were two White-naped Cranes (one adult and one juvenile) and a single Common Crane, which I saw after returning to them for one last scan before heading home. Three crane species in one day had father and son FLYING!!! But, there was still more excitement to come. Further on, we stopped to get some scoped shots of Common Shelduck (which Anthony said looked funny) when I saw a couple of large raptors on a sand bar in the middle of the lake. “Anthony!! White-tailed Sea Eagles!!” This sent Anthony into space. He had never seen an eagle in the wild before and his favorite bird is the Bald Eagle, which makes any eagle special to him. To watch his face when looking at those eagles made my day, hands down. Near the mouth of the river, Anthony got his first looks at swans, 40 juvenile Whooper Swans with no adults present (which has me thinking the adults have already moved on). Our last big find of the trip was a pair of gorgeous Eurasian Spoonbills near where the stream drains into the lake. After seeing a flock of 20+ leucopsis White Wagtails at the very end of our day Anthony says to me, “Dad, I had so much fun today. Can we please go birding again?” To share my passion with my son and have it reciprocated is priceless. I can only hope this is the first of many such trips I take with the best partner a guy could ask for.