Spring brings abundant birdlife to China's pristine wetlands

Warmer weather is bringing a flutter of springtime avian activity to China's pristine wetlands and protected forests, as migrants and residents from many different bird species prepare for the breeding season.

At a forest park in Beijing's Changping District, a pair of great crested grebes, Class 2 protected species in China, were recently seen engaging in elaborate courtship dances during the spring breeding season. 

On the Juma River in Beijing's Fangshan District, dozens of whooper swans have returned from their wintering grounds to breed in the clean, food-rich waters of the area.

Meanwhile, the wetlands in Mingxi County, Fujian Province, an important stopover for birds migrating between their winter and summer habitats, are alive with a colorful array of species including Mandarin ducks, egrets, endangered white-eared night herons and Cabot's tragopans.

Mingxi lies on one of the three major bird migration routes that cross China, and usually sees around 1 million birds from more than 130 species pass through during the spring migration. 

Local environmental authorities are working on various initiatives to help protect the important wetland and forest habitats. 

"We are taking special measures to protect migratory birds by releasing attractive public notices about wild bird protection, receiving information from the public through telephone hotlines, and promoting publicity activities in rural areas and residential areas to strengthen public awareness of protecting migratory birds," said Lin Fang, a forest ranger in the Junzifeng National Nature Reserve in Mingxi County.

Forest firefighters and park rangers have been patrolling the forest area every week to monitor potential fire hazards and using drones with thermal imaging cameras to detect illegal activities such as hunting. 

Pictures taken by a network of infrared monitoring cameras in the reserve have rewarded the rangers' efforts, as they capture more and more images of precious wild animals.

"We are cooperating with the reserve staff to strengthen field patrols in key areas such as wintering grounds, migratory flight resting places and migratory flight paths to strictly prevent and crack down on illegal activities such as indiscriminate hunting of migratory birds and other wild animals by using illegal tools such as nets and poisons. We also use unmanned aerial vehicles and combustible gas detectors to accurately survey the terrain and vegetation types of the protected areas, analyze the forest fire risk levels in various sections, so as to ensure the safety of all kinds of birds," said Zhao Heng, a firefighter from the Fujian Provincial Forest Fire Brigade. 

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