Enjoy One of Asia's Biggest Migratory Bird Habitats in Changwon

Nature lovers can get close to migratory birds and revel in pastoral settings of rice paddies and reed fields at this time of year by heading to Junam Wetlands Park in the southeastern city of Changwon, which recently wrapped up its annual three-day bird-watching festival.

The park sees up to 20,000 birds arrive each year as they change habitats in time with the season, making it one of the best viewing spots in Korea. It emerged as the largest migratory bird habitat in Asia in the 1980s and serves as a wintering site for white napped cranes, among numerous other species.

Now in its fifth year, the recently-ended festival included a range of fun activities such as a treasure hunt, bird quiz, hands-on farming experience, traditional folk games, making arts and crafts, and trying out local specialties at a nearby marketplace.

It ran under the theme of "Humans and Birds in Joyous Harmony" from Saturday to Monday.

However, out of respect for the province's temporary guests, it forewent the traditional opening concert so as not to disturb the birds.

Although the festival has ended, visitors are still encouraged to visit the area to enjoy watching thousands of migratory birds through binoculars set up near the park. There are also facilities providing information about the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the ecology of the local environment.

"There are many stopover and wintering sites for migratory birds in the country. But the park provides a closer look at them than other places," Oh Il-hwan, a Changwon city official, said. "Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful scenery."

The festival has been held every year since 2008 when the Conference of Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands took place in the city.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 06, 2012 10:48 KST