We left at 8:30 in the morning, with just barely a clue about where we were headed-- a Migratory Bird Festival in Gunsan. We knew we could take a bus to Gunsan, but weren't sure how to get to the festival once we got there. We just figured we'd wing it. Oh man, sorry, I didn't mean to make that pun. : )
Well, the flocks of people (or at least a few obvious bird-watchers) we were expecting to find at the bus station did not materialize, so I attempted to interpret a map, and from that it looked like the train station was nearby. I was pretty sure I had deciphered from the festival website (in Korean) that there was a shuttle from the train station to the festival, so we decided to look for the station. When that didn't work, we gave up and found a taxi, aided in our direction-giving by the giant sign for the festival right next to where we hailed the taxi.
The taxi dropped us off outside of the Gunsan Migratory Bird Observatory, which is actually quite a big complex. There is a 14-story tower with an observatory and restaurant at the top, and stuffed bird displays on the bottom. There are also other buildings with bird-related displays, such as the "hatching experience center" (in which, unfortunately, you do not actually experience yourself hatching :) ) and the GIANT duck statue that you actually go inside and walk through a replica of the inside of a duck, complete with intestines and other icky stuff.
And wide-screen TVs that tell you about the insides of a duck.
Although the hatching experience center's name was a little misleading, there were chicks at various stages of development, including one that had just hatched a few hours ago. There were also many live birds in habitats, and these habitats also included 2 random deer, a few rabbits and some goats, all living together with chickens, turkeys and geese.
(That's the view from the observatory...see that black mass in the water? Ducks.)
There were also many tents set up outside the center, with snacks, hands-on activities for kids, and vendors. There was even a vendor from Turkey selling delicious wraps and various Turkish(ish) knick-knacks. At the information center, we found out (from some high school aged volunteers who laughed after everything they said in English) the times and location of the free sightseeing shuttles that went around the preserve. Thus their directions to "Wait by the duck with the purple hair." (There were two huge statues of what were apparently the mascots of the center, two brightly-colored ducks, at the entrance of the observatory)
The sightseeing shuttle was a nice feature of the festival, though we didn't see much on ours. Gunsan hosts hundreds of migrating species throughout the year, especially in the fall and spring. The observatory is on a river, and the delta where the river meets the sea is nearby. You could see huge flocks of birds sitting in the water. They looked like islands. Once in a while they would take flight, and it was beautiful.
Unfortunately, the route our shuttle took, letting us off at a few lookout points, was on the opposite side of the river. Had we had more time, we would have taken a longer shuttle, but we had to get back to town by 4. There were shuttles that went for up to four hours. But we did see swans and some ducks. And a crew from a local TV station, which filmed me taking photos (must have been fascinating ;) )
After the tour, we went to eat lunch on a hill that overlooked the river, then walked around the trails near the river. We saw a few smaller birds that I managed to get some photos of, but not much.
All in all, it was a nice festival. Really makes me want a telephoto lens, though. But it was beautiful, and the Center was nice and interesting. It took a while to get back into Gunsan, since we couldn't find a taxi until we walked closer to town. It seems everyone there had their own cars, or were there with a tour bus. But we found one eventually, and made it back barely in time to drop our stuff off at the apartment and make it to the train station to go to Costco for Thanksgiving supplies...