Fine Details in Birdwatching
Chengdu is a city highly suited to birdwatching, and birdwatchers need not leave the downtown area for fantastic birdwatching sites such as the Qinglong Lake Wetland Park, Huanhuaxi Park, Baita Lake and Baigongyan. However, birdwatching is no simple walk in the park, and other than a discerning choice in location, there are a lot of details to pay attention to including hardware preparation, birdwatching know-how and eco-friendly behavior.
The first step to birdwatching is the identification of birds, so readying an illustrated handbook would be a good idea. The Guide for Birdwatching in the Chengdu Urban Area is a birdwatching guide with input from the Chengdu Bird Watching Society. Said guide not only indicates the main birdwatching sites in the Chengdu urban area, but also shows common birds, common seasonal birds, migratory birds and rare birds of the city to make it easier for birdwatchers in their observation effort. In addition, A Field Guide to the Birds of China by British scholar J. MacKinnon is also considered a must-read.
Amateur birdwatcher should also acquire a pair of suitable binoculars, with 8×32mm, 8×42mm or 10×42mm being the most common specs. Garments meanwhile should ideally be in colors similar to natural and earthly hues, and refrain from choosing anything flashy or vibrant. Furthermore, clothes should be relatively warm and easy to put on or take off, and shoes with insulation and good traction are also important. Moreover, in order to prevent disturbances from snakes, drugs to ward off snakes and a staff or cane to "scare" away approaching snakes are required.
With regards to birdwatching locales, check out places listed in the Guide for Birdwatching in the Chengdu Urban Area, or discover your own little spots by referring to descriptions of bird sanctuaries and habitats described in A Field Guide to the Birds of China.
There are three primary methods to find birds: Watch, listen, or wait. If you observe shaking branches or shrubs at a birdwatching location, then there is a high chance you have stumbled upon some birds of interest. Listening for bird sounds is another important method to locate birds, follow chirps and tweets often result in discovery. The sounds of multiple birds usually indicate the appearance of multiple birds of the same species. If you are familiar enough with a bird habitat and if you so happen to have luck on your side, wait at the right spot at the right time and you might be able to see some birds as well.
Tips: Birds are easily alerted to disturbances, so it would be wise to stay low and quiet when approaching to avoid scaring them into flight.
The birds and the environment are more important than observing or photographing the birds. Pay attention to the following when watching birds:
Birdwatching entails watching wild birds, do not catch or feed them, or introduce and release foreign birds.
When you encounter birds building nest or feeding fledglings, maintain distance during observation to prevent interfering or interrupting with the birds' natural activities. Do not use this opportunity to take bird eggs or catch wild birds.
When photography birds, do not use flash to avoid frightening the birds.
Do not feed any bird.
Do not throw rocks, clap or use other inappropriate measures to make birds appear.
Do not emphatically chase after or pursuit birds to avoid causing them injury or even death.
Do not pick flowers, break branches or in any other way damage bird habitats and surrounding environment and ecology.
The above are things to keep in mind when birdwatching. Let us gear up, embrace mother nature and watch some birds.