The 700 Party

Last month I passed another milestone in my obsessive birding career: I spotted my 700th species!  This is by no means a huge number in the grand scheme of things, as there are an estimated 10,150 bird species on Earth, but the average birder (who does not travel extensively) may only see around 350-450 species; the average non-birder may only be aware of seeing a fraction of that number.

To celebrate this achievement, I wanted to throw a big party.  The majority of my friends here in Korea are non-birders, but accept my quirky hobby even if they don’t entirely understand it.  The idea was two-fold: 1) do something that would remind all of us of our homes, and 2) maybe get one or two of them hooked with a well chosen “gateway bird” (patent pending).

The site of the aptly named “700 Party” was easy enough to decide.  We booked The Damyang House, a small house near the Gwangjuho Lake Eco-Park in Damyang-gun, owned and operated by expat Sean Walker and his wife Jojo.  Enough great things can’t be said about The Damyang House – it’s a little bit of home in rural Korea.  The house has a yard (unheard of in Korea), with a hammock, fire pit (!), wood-burning stove inside, and a top-notch entertainment system.  Sean and Jojo are a dream to work with, as their flexibility and attention to detail go above and beyond what you’d expect for a B&B.  Whether you’re thinking of visiting Damyang and want something more than a “love motel,” or you want that perfect venue for your upcoming event, I highly recommend checking out The Damyang House on AirBNB.

The Damyang House
© Sean Walker

The party started with some birding around Chunghyo-dong and the Gwangjuho Lake Eco-Park.  The place was pretty crowded in the afternoon, but we still had a good time, saw some good birds, and also attracted a small crowd of Koreans to see what the group of foreigners were so fascinated by in the trees.

Birding at the Gwangjuho Lake Eco-Park

Our craning necks and binoculars started to attract attention from the locals.  Here we are observing a pygmy woodpecker, and sharing the moment with some surprisingly excited Koreans, who probably never noticed these small birds before.
© Amanda Serrano

And here is the bird that caused all the fuss:  Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos kizuki nippon)

Wandering through rice paddies in Chunghyo-dong

As daylight waned, we returned to The Damyang House and started up the barbeque.  I can’t tell you how nice it was to cook on an actual Weber with real charcoal and everything!  Once night fell, we transferred the coals to the fire pit and had ourselves a campfire…marshmallows and all!

Good food, better company…

Two Binch cookies and a roasted marshmallow make for a half decent Korean smore
© Lianne Bronzo

Thanks to our friends for coming out to “the middle of nowhere” to celebrate this geek-tastic occasion, and especially to The Damyang House for providing the perfect venue.

The 7 Hundreds

The 7 Hundreds

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