Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Winter – The best season for watching migrant birds in Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city by population in China. Due to its rapid development over the last two decades it has again become a leading global city, with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport.
Nevertheless, if you get tired of the urban life, there is still a good place for spending time in nature. Chongming, listed as the third largest island in Greater China after Taiwan and Hainan, is an alluvial island with an area of 1,041 square kilometers in the mouth of Yangtze River. Now just a few wetlands can be found in China. Chongming as one of the wetlands becomes the most important refuge for migrant birds that annually fly from Siberia to Australia.
In winter, more than 300 species of migrant birds gather in Chongming Dongtan Birds National Nature Reserve, which include some rare species such as Hooded Crane and White Stork. Chongming Dongtan Birds National Nature Reserve is also renowned for a group migration of more than 3000 Cygnets. Chongming Island is the last stop for most of the migrant birds that will fly to Australia directly, thus birds are easier to be observed for their predation behavior.
 Hooded Crane
White Stork

Since the birds spend most of the day time in profundal zone, the best time for observing is in the early morning or after sunset (I suggest early morning because of adequate light which is important for photographer). But even by choosing the best season and best time, you still need some luck to see the birds that you want to see. Normally by two days observing, you can see around 65 species of birds. REMEMBER: the birds are very vigilant so please keep at least 200 meters away when observation.
Beside the bird observation, there are still some local activities such as horse riding in a country road, boat fishing in small lake and etc. You should also try the local flavors which are made of extremely fresh vegetables (depends on seasons) or chicken.

To get there, taking a long distance bus or driving from downtown are the best options since the Bridge-Tunnel was completed in 2010. For the accommodation, I suggest Dongtan International Conference Center (near the Reserve). Family-style hotels can be also easily found on the island. 

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