Heaven for Birds!
The migratory bird corridor along the Longquan Mountains range through to the Chengdu Plain is the largest route for migrant birds in Sichuan, stretching over a distance of more than 70km from east to west. Between September and March in the following year, thousands of migratory birds gradually arrive from Siberia and Northeast Asia to spend the winter here, or to make a brief pitstop before continuing southward. Although the weather is a bit chilly, but Chengdu birdwatching enthusiasts are all prepped and ready to go, because for them, the year's best birdwatching season is just over the horizon.
This time, let us venture out of Chengdu's urban districts for a glimpse of the massive and magnificent flocks of migrant birds in the suburban areas.
Longquanyi District: Longquan Mountains
The Longquan Mountains are located in eastern Chengdu and known as a narrow and extensive range that boasts a forest coverage rate of roughly 23%. At noon in March and April each year, stand atop one of the ridges or peaks, look up at the sky and see the migrations of birds of prey such as the common buzzard and oriental honey buzzard.
Longquan Lake high up in the mountains is yet another fantastic spot for birdwatchers. With a surface area of approximately 5.52 million square meters, Longquan Lake is renowned for its majestic lake scenery comprised of 14 islands of varying shapes and sizes and serene waters set against a backdrop of mountains covered in verdant slopes, thus the region is especially suited as an avian habitat. When winter warms up into spring, bird fans could spot a myriad of water fowls on Longquan Lake such as the mallard, ruddy shelduck, Indian spot-billed duck, Eurasian teal and European wigeon mingling with a variety of birds in the family Ardeidae like the egret, Chinese pond heron and yellow-crowned night heron. In the alpine areas around the lake is a plethora of various birds including the light-vented bulbul, goldfinch, vinous-throated parrotbill, yellow-rumped warbler, collared finchbill, chestnut-crowned warbler, magpie-robin, white-browed laughingthrush, tomtit and yellow-bellied tit, among others.
Pidu District: Yunqiao Wetland Park
The Yunqiao Wetland Park is situated at Xinminchang Town of Pidu District, and the Xuyan River, Baitiao River and Baimu River cut across the park's land. The 26km-stretch filled with beautiful landscape is known for its serene forests and warm and moist air. The bamboo partridge, black water cock, red bill blue magpie, plain prinia, egret, Chinese pond heron and vinous-throated parrotbill are some of the common birds seen in the area.
Dujiangyan City: Zhaogong Mountain
Zhaogong Mountain is located inside the Mount Qingcheng-Dujiangyan Scenic Area. Reaching a height of 2,434m at its highest peak, it is the tallest part of Mount Qingcheng and the location of the "land of fortune" of Mount Qingcheng's "cave sky and land of fortune". In the mountain are many birds for your viewing pleasure, including the likes of the thrush, chestnut rocky thrush, long tailed ground thrush, grey starling, brown bellied woodpecker, white orbiter and finch.
Chongzhou City: Baita Lake
Baita Lake, which means "White Tower" lake, was so named because of the nearby eponymous white tower from Sui dynasty. Situated in the city of Chongzhou, Baita Lake is encircled by mountains on three sides and famous for its expansive water surface. On the mountain in the east is a Buddhist monastery, where ancient trees stand alongside the white tower and where mist from burning incense perpetually linger in the air; and white cranes, wild ducks and other birds inhabit the middle of the lake that has been dubbed the "magic mirror of western Sichuan". Birdwatchers might get to see as many as 40 to 70 types of birds in one day, such as the white eyed pochard, slaty bunting, vinaceous rosefinch, red-winged wall creeper, red-billed blue magpie and speckled piculet, making this truly a "mecca" for birdwatchers in suburbia Chengdu.
Xinjin Conuty: Banzhulin
The Banzhulin scenic area in Xinjin is situated in Xingyi Town of Xinjin Conuty and is already more than 160 years old. Its core zone measure about 37,000 square meters in area, and within the forest are plenty of wetlands that are the regular homes to over 40 birds including national grade one and grade two protected animals such as the white crane and grey crane. More than 10,000 birds are gathered here, and the scene is quite magnificent.
Other suburban sites ideal for birdwatching include: Xiongmaiping and Yushigou area at Baishui River in Pengzhou, the shores of Xi River and Min River in Xinjin Conuty, Laojun Mountain also in Xinjin Conuty, and Chaoyang Lake and Changtan Lake in Pujiang County, among others.