Saerang: birders pursue their love for observing birds
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Saerang: birders pursue their love for observing birds
  • Ewha Voice
  • 승인 2014.03.16 12:38
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Members of Saerang observes the birds up-close with binoculars and telescopes. Photo provided by Saerang.
Chirp. A dozen pairs of ears listen intently to the tune of chirping birds. The high-pitched sound piques the birdwatchers’ curiosity, and leads the avid birders carrying binoculars and telescopes to where they can observe the birds up-close. 
 
With a group of people retaining a common interest in observing birds, a genuine camaraderie exists in Saerang, one of the student-led clubs at Ewha founded in 1985. Since Saerang is a Korean phrase which means “with birds,” the members are able to gain numerous experiences regarding their interest. The members regularly take a walk on campus and around the Seoul region including Sil-lim, Changgyeonggung and Seoul Forest to watch birds. Slightly different in meaning to bird-watching, they also investigate birds by counting all the birds in a particular area over the course of a few days to scientifically study birds. 
 
All the members are given a bird name that reflects their looks and characteristics. 
 
Park In-kyo (Statistics, 3), the president of Saerang with a bird name of black-headed gull, recalled her most memorable experience: undergoing all sorts of hardships when she went birding to an uninhabited island. 
 
“We went into the deserted island by taking a motorboat where we had to stay against the winter wind,” Park said.
“When I sat down to eat a snack all alone gazing at the sea, I asked myself: Why am I here? Who am I?”
 
The members go on birding expeditions on their own during all four seasons. They go to any random islands in the summer, visit Ganghwa Island to examine sandpipers in the spring and autumn, and take a trip to the Han River, the Nakdong River and Jeju Island in the winter. They collect all the observations and reports for analysis, and present the information to other university bird watching associations at the end of the year. Saerang also holds a bird exhibition every year in the first or second week of September. 
 
A mountain spring was created next to the General Classroom Building for birds to take a rest and clean themselves. Every member has installed her own camera that is connected to a mobile phone application to monitor birds’ behaviors. 
 
Even though all of the members possess strong passion toward birds, it is not always easy for them to follow their avidness. Despite her mother’s objection about watching birds, Hong Eun-ah (Sculpture, 1), a new member, persisted to pursue her fervor for birding.  
 
“Due to my major, there are more days when I have to stay out overnight at school than staying home,” Hong said. “Since Saerang has many outdoor activities, I rarely go home. My mother insisted me to quit the club and participate in the English speaking club instead, yet I still participate in Saerang.” 
 
In contrast to the intense competition among university students, the members of Saerang are not so much intereste
d in building specs only for employment. Although this club cannot be a fancy decoration in one of the lines of students’ resumes, they believe that it has something that other clubs do not possess. 
 
“There may be more applicants in one year than another but the total number of members rarely fluctuates,” Park said. 
 
In watching birds, Park believes that she can only see as much as she knows. 
 
 “I could see as many birds as I knew,” Park said. “I was able to learn and experience the larger world by birding. I personally think people cannot learn and experience the world when they only stay in the cities.” 
 
Cho Sung-kyung (’13, Life Sciences), with the bird name of Japanese pygmy woodpecker, the previous executive officer, hopes students at Ewha would also enjoy watching birds. 
 
“Many people in Korea are still unfamiliar with birding,” Cho said. “In the United Kingdom, two thirds of the population in the country watch birds. Taking interest in birds really means taking interest in other living things. Ewha has a wonderful natural environment, so I hope students can take some time to see and feel the nature.”

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