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Just south of Jeju, a tiny island and migrating bird paradise
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승인 2012.05.09  10:12:24
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The following is an edited Facebook post on “Wild Jeju” which is reprinted with permission from the author, Stephen Krohn. Stephen is an avid bird watcher (see his list Jeju Bird List), artist and teacher. He also has contributed to The Weekly’s Opinions page. — Ed.

For more info on Marado and bird populations, please consider:

Mara Island proves important in study of migratory birds
Korea's southernmost land mass needs to balance development with conservation
Published Saturday, May 14, 2011
By Matthew Poll

The tiny speck on the horizon
Diminutive island is southernmost point of Korea
Published Monday, October 05, 2009
By Colleen Hyde

Endangered bird lands on Marado
Published Saturday, June 20, 2009
By The Jeju Weekly

Last week I made a pledge to you, Wild Jeju, and myself to hit Marado and to hit it hard. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to hit back, but in the good way.

In my mind, there were potentially 30 to 40 migrant birds that might make it to the island, maybe I would see five or six new birds, if I was lucky. That was an underestimate. Marado is full of birds.

My weekend’s total was some 30 birds. New birds to add to my lifetime list: 13. The last time I added more than 10 new birds within a 24-hour span was Malaysia. Marado was a feast.

As you land on the island, you can hear a metallic pinging song of the zitting cisticola. They would be hovering overhead all throughout the day. Some of the most easily to enjoy birds were the orange headed cattle egrets and the Chinese pond herons. Nice large birds that don’t take binoculars to watch them.

There were a variety of new buntings passing by, all fairly easy to identify: the black-faced, chestnut, yellow browed, and yellow breasted bunting. My favorite was the chestnut with its bright sienna head and yellow body, but the bravest was the black-faced who doesn’t give right of way up as easily as some other birds might when walking by.

Two unique thrushes passed by town, the brown headed and the eyebrowed thrush. A lone brambling decided not to migrate north and is still hanging out by the church. Maybe he’ll take off when it gets a bit hotter.

Then on to the fun guys that really made the trip worth it, the Siberian rubythroat, Siberian blue robin, Japanese paradise flycatcher, and the black-capped kingfisher. All these guys deserve two Oscars for best visual effects and best costumes.

▲ The Siberian rubythroat. Photo by Stephen Krohn
▲ A dusky warbler. Photo by Stephen Krohn

During the trip, I had the pleasure to meet some Korean biologists taking studies on these birds. A-SA! [Nice!, in Korean.] They were catching the birds for DNA and banding. Totally awesome!

I wanted to stay and watch but I had my own birds to find. (It doesn’t count if it was netted.) That night they took me to the east side cliffs where the crested murrelet roosts at night. You can hear them talking to each other all throughout the night, a giant slumber party on a cliff.

The scientists said that there are about 200 breeding couples living on the island, but with Marado becoming more of a travel destination for more and more people, their numbers might diminish.

I hope Korea sees the importance of this site and tries to protect it, not only for these birds, but all the birds that use this speck of a rock in the ocean as a temporary layover on their journey north.

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