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Paradise of birds

(China Daily)

09:09, November 01, 2012

Although it isn't the best season for watching migratory birds, our trip to the Yellow River Delta Nature Reserve, in Shandong province, doesn't let us down. Home to one of China's best wetlands, it has been a paradise for diversified groups of birds all year round.

After about a 30-minute drive from the downtown of Dongying, a vast expanse of reeds slips into view, dotting the shining surface of lakes. From a distance, we see flocks of widgeons and spot-billed ducks flying over the reeds. Egrets twitter in the woods and whooper swans rest on the lake in their usual elegance.

Shan Kai, a specialist working with the nature reserve's research station, attributes the marvelous scene to the local government's constant efforts to restore the wetland and improve its ecological environment.

“Since the nature reserve was established in 1981, we have taken a series of measures to restore the wetland and protect its wildlife, including water diversion and storage facilities, returning farmland to wetlands and building special feeding and breeding zones for birds," Shan says.

According to Shan, a total of 23,333 hectares of wetlands have been restored over the past few years and another 43,333 hectares are expected to be restored by 2015. A 200-hectare winter-wheat field has been built in the nature reserve, which will provide food to birds flying to the nature reserve in winter.

Located at the estuary where the Yellow River flows into the Bohai Sea, the nature reserve covers an area of 153,000 hectares, on one of China's largest wetlands, and continues expanding every year as silts carried by the Yellow River deposit in the area.

It is home to more than 1,920 species of flora and fauna and serves as an ideal habitat for migratory birds from inner lands to the Pacific.

The number of birds has increased to more than 6 million from 4 million about 10 years ago, and the bird species have grown from 283 to 296, accounting for 20 percent of the total bird varieties in China.

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