Feature

Sichuan University - Forest of Angels

The Sichuan University of today came into being after two rounds of mergers involving three national key universities, namely the original Sichuan University, University of Science and Technology of Chengdu and West China Medical University. Aggregate area of all campuses, as in the Wangjiang campus, Huaxi campus and Jiang'an campus, totals more than 460 hectares. The scenic Sichuan University campuses are definitely fabulous destinations for avid birdwatchers.

 

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Birdwatching at Wangjiang Campus

Tread west from the College of Life Science Sichuan University located on Lüyang Road in Wangjiang Campus to reach a swath of faculty dormitory constituted by Lüyang Village, Taolin Village and Xiangyang Village. These buildings were constructed between the 1950s and 1970s, the area is encompassed in lush shades, the exterior walls of the dorms are almost totally covered in vines, flowers bloom in all seasons, and a scholarly ambiance emanate from each household.

Not far from Lvyang Village and Taolin Village is a little forest. Although small in size, but every year the forest plays host to a bevy of migratory birds and has risen as a preferred destination for birdwatching and bird photography among avian aficionados. Due to the arrival of these "little angels," the forest has been coined the "Forest of Angels" by bird enthusiasts in Sichuan and even throughout the rest of the country. This is the reason why Sichuan University has been listed in the Guide for Birdwatching in the Chengdu Urban Area alongside locations such as the Chengdu Botanical Garden and Huanhuaxi Park.


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▲ white-bellied redstart


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 ▲ fire-breasted flowerpecker


According to incomplete statistics compiled by the Chengdu Bird Watching Society, a total of 147 species of wild birds in 65 genera in 22 families in eight orders have been recorded at the "Forest of Angels," including the white-bellied redstart, white browed swan, white browed forest dove, white-headed duck, white-tailed robin, spot-headed magpie, Chinese thrush, red tailed pigeon, blackthroat, black-naped oriole, red-breasted flycatcher, black-throated bushtit, red-flanked bluetail, chestnut-flanked white-eye and fire-breasted flowerpecker, among many others and representing over 20% of the total number of bird species known in Sichuan.


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▲ black-throated bushtit


Many rare birds that pass by Chengdu like to stay shortly at this "unassuming" forest. On May 2, 2011, the extremely rare black-throated blue robin was sighted here by photographer He Yi, which was the world's first ever photo of this precious little bird.

 

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▲ black-throated blue robin


Birdwatching at Other Campuses

Other than the Wangjiang campus, the Huaxi campus and Jiang'an campus of Sichuan University are also marvelous places for birdwatching. A large number of birds of the order Passeriformes like to rest here during their migration, in particular those from the Muscicapidae and Turdidae families.


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Kingfishers like to frequent the shores of the "Yuehe Pond" in the Huaxi campus of Sichuan University. A group of fervent photographers always hang around the hair, holding their breaths to try to capture that magical moment when the kingfisher dives at the water for a fish, because a success would be feat enough to brag about for days to come.


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▲ kingfisher


Other than the migratory birdies, Jiang'an campus of Sichuan University is also well-liked by common birds because of the gorgeous environment. Take for instance the little white egrets that like to saunter elegantly along the shores of the Mingyuan Lake, the white wagtails that stroll around the scenic water channels, the "arrogant" white-browed laughingthrush that hang around the water bodies known as Baqu and Deshui, the haughty common buzzards, the hoopoes that feed on the lawns, and the omnipresent tree sparrow adorably nicknamed the "fatties of Jiang'an".


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▲ little white egrets


During the two major migration seasons of spring and autumn, birdwatchers from Sichuan and other provinces would descend on these birdwatching meccas on the campuses of Sichuan University, and dozens of "cannons" of varying lengths and calibers would be set up within tiny spaces as the "cannoneers" take aim at the sky, waiting for the arrival of the brilliant and vivid birds. When wings flap in the sky, on the ground below the sounds of continuous waves of clicking shutters mingle into a mesmerizing orchestra.