Seosan Birdland on Cheonsuman Bay

IMG_0877 After a short visit to Ganworam hermitage, we drove about five minutes to Seosan Birdland. It is located off of the main road that leads to Ganworam, and has a giant sign by the road leading tourists to the parking lot. When we arrived, I thought perhaps it was closed because the lower parking lot looked like this… One of the cars was ours! There was a gate and driveway up to actual birdland, but since I don’t speak Korean we did not attempt to get into the gate. The lady selling tickets at the bottom of the hill was genuinely surprised to see me, and after hiking up the hill, I realized that with a smaller parking lot up the hill, most visitors had parked there. Oh well!

IMG_0878Cheonsuman Bay, just south of Birdland, is a wintering location for thousands of migratory birds. Before visiting, I thought that it was where the birds lived in the summer, so we hoped to visit before they left for the winter. Turns out, it is the exact opposite, and this bay is their home for the winter. I guess Korea turned this area into rice fields to make it a more hospitable home for birds in 1984, and since then it is one of the best places for bird watching in Korea!

Unfortunately for us, we visited a few weeks too early. In the final weeks of October, we saw migratory birds flying overhead in huge flocks from our home in Samgilpo, so that would have been the perfect time to visit. Oh well, we still had a great time! Birdland has a 4D theater, a very technologically advanced museum/ education center, an observation tower, playground, hiking trails, and camp sites. Check out their website (in Korean) for more information on ticket prices and opening hours. I gave Landon the choice to do the 4D theater or main building first. He chose the 4D theater. There were show times every hour or so, giving us a short wait time before the show- perfect for a quick picnic lunch. The lady at the theater tried to explain to me that my baby, Owen, could not go in before I bought tickets, but I thought she was telling me that I could not bring the stroller in. So, when it was time to go in for the show, a guy who spoke English told me that the nice lady who sold me the tickets would be watching Owen so Landon and I could go to the show. How nice is that? I was a little surprised when she took Owen, but they had a fun time.

IMG_0885The 4D movie was a cartoon about a bird that was migrating back to Cheonsuman Bay. Along with the typical 3D glasses, the seats moved all around, there was wind, vibration, water sprays, bubbles and snow! This was my first 4D movie and it sure was an adventure! Landon was a little scared and a little motion sick afterwards, but he learned more about the area and enjoyed it overall.

After the 4D movie it was time to check out the main building. The first floor had a large projection set up on the wall, showing the real migratory birds of the bay. There were also several different species of birds in cages, and some bird skeletons. Up the elevator, the main part of the museum started. We signed the virtual guestbook. Landon got to choose a bird(he chose an owl), put in his name and where he was from, and then watch it fly around with the other bird visitors. Super cool, huh?IMG_0886

 

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Learning characteristics of different species that live in the bay

IMG_0888The museum had several neat exhibits that were primarily in Korean, but we still learned a little about the different birds that live in the bay. The touch cubes had bills and wings and feet of the birds and Landon had to guess what they were and which bird they were from. Next, a map of the bay and a hall full of taxidermied birds on display helped us learn more about where the birds live and what they looked like. Then, it was time for some fun. Landon loved painting the characters on the I-pad, then watching them walk or fly around the big screens in front of him. Korean museums are seriously the best!

 

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Some of Landon’s painted birds!

IMG_0898Looking at the world through an owl’s eyes and learning about bird watching was fun! In the more kid-friendly, interactive part of the museum, nothing was in English, but as this museum is in a less-populated area with few expats, we understood why everything was only in Korean. For our time in the museum section, we had the museum to ourselves, which was really nice. Landon could bounce around to all the exhibits, and then go back to his favorite activities.

 

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On the cover of Birdland Geographic… such a cool photo-op!

 

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IMG_0912We took our time in all the exhibits, but even for us the museum only took us about 30 minutes to go through. After that, it was up the hill to the bird watching/observation tower. We took the elevator to the observation floor, and used the free telescopes to look for birds. As I mentioned before, our visit was a bit premature to catch the migratory birds but we did see a few egrets. In the 4D movie, the main character bird gets chased in the rice fields by different predators, so Landon was on the look out for snakes and raccoons as well. We did not see any, though.  The observation tower provided 360 degree views of the area with floor to ceiling windows. The kids loved it!

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View of the museum, 4D theater (pyramid) and bay in the background

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With Owen standing and cruising, it was fun to get him out of the stroller to move around a little on the observation deck. He thought it was really cool that we were up in the air! IMG_0927IMG_0938

Next up, we hiked a short distance from the observation tower to the playground. It was a little overgrown and abandoned looking, but it was basically a clubhouse or tree house with a few slides coming out of it, so Landon had a wonderful time playing in the house. Owen loved going down the slide (with help from mom) and digging in the sand at the bottom of the slide. He loves to get dirty!

 

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Taking a break overlooking the rice fields and bay…

Seosan Birdland is a great place for bird watchers- especially in the late fall and winter starting in late October. For us, it was an interesting educational field trip, but not necessarily a place I would recommend going too far out of the way to see. That being said, it was clean, relatively stroller friendly with elevators and accessible paths and driveways, and had a neat playground, so it is a fun place to visit with kids.

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Birdhouse wall on the way to the parking lot
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