In only a few short days, 2013 will come to an end and a New Year will begin. I spent the second to last week of the year in a fog, fighting a nagging cold that wouldn’t quit. I spent Christmas Day on Skype, talking with family on the other side of the world. Sometimes it’s surreal how the time difference between the east coast of North America and South Korea can seem like time travel – it’s Christmas morning for us while I talk to my parents and nephews who are preparing for bedtime on Christmas Eve…how can it be today and yesterday at the same time?
I managed to recover from my cold enough to spend part of the last weekend of 2013 at the Gakhwa reservoir. It seems fitting, since this was the first place I went to when we arrived in Gwangju all those months ago; where else would I spend the last days of the year?
It had snowed overnight on Saturday, and was still snowing a bit Sunday morning. Snow is ephemeral here; it arrives and disappears within the same day, so one must take advantage of it while it lasts. In the mountains surrounding the reservoir, the snow was still coming down in light flakes. It was beautiful to see the mountains under a fresh layer of snow.
In addition to the regular residents like Japanese tit, pygmy woodpecker, Daurian redstart, and brown-eared bulbul, I came across several winter visitors like four red-flanked bluetails, a common buzzard soaring high over the valleys, and two goldcrests (Lifer #609). The goldcrests resemble golden-crowned kinglets, and were found in a large mixed-species foraging flock along one of the mountain trails. Check out the complete species list.
The few hours I spent at the reservoir produced some great birds. Despite having traveled over the trails around these mountains for nearly a year now, I am still surprised with new species that I had never seen here before. It is truly one of the wonders and thrills of birding to continually see old favorite sites with new eyes.