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China Top Six Birdwatching Hotspots


No.1: Ruoergai Wetland Nature Reserve若尔盖: The Biggest, most Primitive and best-preserved Alpine Wetland on Earth


For many years, I wandered along Ruoergai Wetland Nature Reserve like a lonely spirit. It overwhelms me with beauty defies description. Hence, I used my camera, to capture her unrestrained charm, vibrant indigenous tribes and thriving wildlife. There are countless moments I feel connected with this magic land. For instance, when I encountered a yak astray and stared with it eye to eye 8 years ago, when I saw the electrifying sunset in2007, and trekked along its icebound lake during the past winter with a local Tibetan friend.

Ruoergai has penetrated into my soul and part of me has stayed there forever.

Perched on the rim of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Ruoergai Wetland Nature Reserve boasts the biggest and most intact alpine wetland on earth. It strides across Sichuan and Gansu province, spanning 10,000,000,000 square meters. Black Neck Crane, an endangered species only living in high plateau, thrives here. Their population has expanded to 900 by present.
china top six wetlands

No.2. Bayanbulak Swan Nature Reserve巴音布鲁克: The biggest Funhouse of Swans on Earth


With 3/5 of the swans on earth gather here, Bayanbulak is the biggest funhouse of swans on earth.

Sublime beauty and seething ethnic activities converge here. Integrating grasslands, wetlands, lakes and snow-capped peaks, Bayanbulak Swan Nature Reserve is one of my favorite places to savor up the nomadic lifestyle, photograph swans and to enjoy the Naadam festival.

The most enduring memory is when I saw pairs of swans fluttering along an azure blue lake fringed by the glistening snow peaks in the distance. At that moment, I felt like in paradise.
Bayanbulak Swan Nature Reserve
Bayanbulak Swan Nature Reserve is a sea of flowers in spring, a fairyland of swans and nomadic tribes in summer, an ocean of colors in autumn and a serene paradise sealed by ice and snow in winter.

Bayanbulak Swan Nature Reserve is elevated from 7545 feet to 10170 feet, hence, even my grandfather, who is at the age of 90, can enjoy this place with ease.

Each year, over 200,000 birds will come here to spend summer and breed. From the adventurous to the family-friendly, Banyanbulak has almost something for everyone, such as horse-riding, camel-riding, camping, photographing, experience ethnic lifestyle or bird watching.

The centerpiece is Bayanbulak Swan Lake, the biggest breeding ground of giant swans on earth. Its universal appeal lies in its potpourri of swans. Close your eyes to picture the scene of swans swimming along a blue lake set against snow-capped peaks.

The best time to visit is around April. There are bird-watching platforms inside.

To my amazement, this land is shared not only by the Mongols, which take up 78% of the population, but also but by 8 ethnic groups including the Hui, Manchu, Tibetan and Kazakhs. The best chance to familiarize with them is during the Naadam Festival usually occurring from July to September. It is highlighted by wrestling, archery and horse riding. Food and photo opportunity abound. Due to its anonymity, it is free from the megaphone-wielding tours.

No. 3 Sanjiang Wetland Nature Reserve三江平原湿地: an emerald tapestry carved by three rivers


No other place on earth can heighten the feeling of nature’s grandeur and humanity’s insignificance like the Sanjiang Wetland Nature Reserve does. Once a deserted and windswept land, it morphs into a prominent burgeoning farming land supporting millions of people. The landscape is interwoven by meadows, strips of forests and rivers.

I have explored this place during four seasons. In 2007, I visited it during March, and was awe-struck by the bustling bird scene. It felt great to be surrounded by over 150,000 feathered creatures of all stripes. Thanks to my guide, I know at least 30 kinds of birds now. In 2009, I visited it during winter. I carried photography gears weighing over 30km, with the help of my friend, to capture the snow-bound scenery here. The snowstorm, which gathered in strength every minute, swallowed this reserve magically in no time. We wandered amid the wildness and got lost. Only with the help of a shepherd, did we manage to escape.

Sanjiang Wetland Nature Reserve is at the peak of its beauty in summer. In June, 2011, we paddled through its sea of reeds along a web of interlacing streams and were enchanted by the harmonious chorus of birds, frogs and insects. The visibility is superb. We can see various aquatic creatures swimming around.

The sad news is that Sanjiang is shrinking to around 1/3 of its former size. Visit it before it disappears.


No.4. Yellow River Delta Wetland: the International Airport of Birds黄河三角洲湿地

Getting tired of her long journey from Qinghai, the Yellow River empties into the East Sea at Dongying, Shandong province. This is the youngest, biggest and best-preserved wetland in China’s temperature zone. Feed by 1.2 billion cubic meters of earth carrying by the Yellow River, Yellow River Delta Wetland keeps expanding at the speed of 25 square kilometers annually. At some points, the mudflat can swallow a person in several seconds. The undulating terrain shaped by creeks and streams, deters travelers, hunters and farmers alike. This turns out to be a blessing, for human interference is minimal. This dangerous swamp nurtures the most amazing birds and wildlife.
Yellow River Delta Wetland

Yellow River Delta Wetland is a key resting pot for birds traversing Australia and Siberia. With over 300 species of birds spot here, it is heralded as “the international airport of birds.”
Best Time to visit:April to November.  (In each November, Bird Watching Festival occurs)
Yellow River Delta Wetland
Yellow River Delta Wetland
Yellow River Delta Wetland


No.5. Zhalong Nature Reserve扎龙湿地

In 2012, I visited Heilongjiang to see cranes in Zhalong Nature Reserve, which boasts the most complete and biggest population of cranes in China. According to my guide Professor Lin, an expert on birds, 9 out of 15 kinds of birds on earth live here. Among which, 4 belong to endangered species. The most notable example is Red-Crowned Cranes. By 2013, there are around 2,000 Red-crowned cranes in the world, and over 300 can be found in this reserve.

No.6. Panjin Red Beach of Liaohe River Delta Wetlands辽河三角洲湿地: the most Sumptuous Red Carpet on Earth


Due to some stunning photos of Panjin Red Beach, I was arrested by its ethereal beauty. In October, 2013, I persuaded my friend to join my three-day trip to Liaoning. We drove for several hours from Beijing during China National Holiday, to shift urban life to beach time.

I cannot describe the feeling when saw Panjin Red Beach at the first time. We walked along its wooden boardwalk with cheerful mood and light paces like children. The reddish-to-purplish carpet sets ideal background for vacationing photos. When energy failed us, we stopped in a tea house amid the reed forest. It is one of the most romantic moments in my life.
panjin red beach
Author: Sophia   Posted on Jan 26,2014
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