In this update, some more information on the practicalities:
In total, approximately 40 persons have now confirmed that they will be participating for one or more days of the SSMP. I will send out this list and the planned schedule only on request (File size is ca 335 kb). Those so far confirmed include ca 16 participants flying in specially, and an additional 7 overseas-based participants who are in the country birding. Truly excellent! .
We have heard no more from our major funder yet, but have received at least one extra extremely valuable donation, which will be used to help cover many of our most urgent survey costs (boats and cars). (So many thanks for that EK!!).
More Money Matters: the only currency used in Korea is the Korean won. One thousand Korean won now equals ca One point one USD. Please change money at the airport on arrival if you cannot change it before. Money is hard to change in Gunsan (where we will be based) and travellers cheques are of no use here. International credit cards (Visa etc) often, but do not always work.
Communication. Please be aware that international mobile phones do not work inside of Korea. Internet is widely available. For those needing to be in regular touch with home by phone, please rent a mobile phone at Incheon airport before traveling down: easy to do, costs are around 3 000 Kor Won per day. My phone number is (82) 11-9303 1963.
Accommodation: Most of the participants will be based for most of the time in the city of Gunsan, in an area of the city (Naun-Dong) where there are numerous motels. These motels are fairly clean; many have internet access; and the area is fairly well-served by convenience stores, restaurants etc. Most rooms costs between 30 000 and 40 000 Kor won per night. A home-stay option for those with very limited funding is being organized. For motel-users, you will of course have the option of single occupancy (and the SSMP funds will attempt - for those who have requested it - to reimburse at least all room costs of those sharing, and half or more of those staying singly. More on this when you arrive…)..
Transport. We are still finalizing the best travel arrangements from Incheon 4 or so hours south to Gunsan. For those arriving by plane in the late afternoon or evening, it is recommended to stay the first night at the Hotel Sky Tel: (82)(0)32-752-1101. This is a business type hotel, 7 minutes by free shuttle bus from the international airport in Incheon. Cost per room per night should be 50 000 Kor won (i.e. 55 USD). If asked, I will happily make the booking for you, although the hotel staff do speak some English. Ways to get down from there to Gunsan include self-drive or public transport (with a bus, one hour, direct from the airport to the Seoul Express terminal; and then another bus direct from there to Gunsan bus station, 3.5 hours south, leaving every 15 or 30 minutes). We are hoping that most people will be able to travel down with others who know the country/have been to Korea already. Either way, we will meet you at Gunsan Bus station- if we know the time of your arrival.
More on Transport: We are now set to buy two old and very cheap cars, which will be kept in Gunsan (near to Saemangeum), and which we will be able to use throughout the period. This will save significantly on overall car rental costs for the Program. However, it seems likely that some car rental will also likely be necessary - as the area is quite a huge one to cover well (and e.g. photographers' needs and counters' needs are often not quite the same!).
Counting will be mostly conducted in two or more small teams of 2 or 3 (or 4) people (one team per small car). Some will be from roads; some will be from long walks along the drying out tidal-flat; some will be from selected boat trips. Most counting will be done through tripod-mounted telescopes.
Counting will be concentrated over the spring high tide periods of April 2-8; April 15-21; May 4-8; and May 12-18, with some counting and leg-flag searches etc most other days. A series of conservation meetings is also now being prepared on some selected dates for some in the team.
For longer-staying visitors, there should also be a few days birding out on Eocheong Island - poor for shorebirds, but a fantastic place for many other migrants (the species list there is over 300 - almost all migrants). Please see the Birds Korea website Latest Bird News archives for some examples of the kinds of birding that can be had there…
BIRD BOOKS: The best bird book for people to use at such times is the English-language Lee, Koo and Park Field-guide, published by LG Evergreen (2000) (there is also a Korean-language version). Sadly, this book is now more or less out-of-print and sold out in Korea itself. If you can buy more than one copy of this book where you live (through Amazon or at a book shop), PLEASE do, and we will buy your extra copy off you at full price
CLOTHING: Counters throughout the period are asked please to wear dull (e.g. green or brown) clothing please as birds are much shier here than in e.g. Australia or New Zealand, with waterproof walking boots if you have them. Sunblock and hats are also very useful here.
WEATHER: Those coming in April can expect temperatures ranging from ca 5-8 C minimum at dawn/morning, reaching 14 c or 15C in Mid-month, sometimes reaching plus 22-23 C maximum; in May temperatures will be a little higher (and can reach 30C towards the end of the month). Winds are usually a moderate Beaufort Force 3-4 in the afternoons, and although the weather is often dry, expect at least some days of heavy rain and also morning fog.
14) There are no obvious health concerns here. Food is spicy (but can be prepared a little milder) and rather repetitive, but happily to many peoples' taste; bottled water and distilled water are available in the rooms and at convenience stores etc.
I hope very much that these 14 points above cover the majority of questions that people will have. For those from New Zealand, I would like to encourage you to check things through with Phil Battley, Keith Woodley and Adrian Riegen (as all participated in 2006) as well as myself; for those in Australia, please contact with Danny Rogers and Ken Gosbell, as well as myself; and for all others…Please mail me or phone me at your earliest convenience.
With very best wishes and many thanks in advance,