Power linemen as determined swan guardians

(Xinhua) 13:28, April 22, 2024

SHENYANG, April 21 (Xinhua) -- After completing a day of work as power linemen, Liu Yushan and his colleagues in Beipiao, Chaoyang City of northeast China's Liaoning Province, often gather on the riverbank to observe the swans there.

For these employees of the State Grid's Chaoyang power supply company, bird-watching is more than just a form of relaxation -- it's an integral part of their voluntary jobs each spring.

With the melting of snow and ice on the Linghe River, flocks of swans, either gracefully flying in the sky or joyfully frolicking in the wetlands of the Baishi Reservoir, attract numerous shutterbugs and tourists from near and far.

After parking near a bridge at dusk, the workers swiftly set up 17 long-range floodlights directed at 66-kV electrical cables, a practice which ensures that swans do not collide with the wires and can safely navigate their way to their habitat on the Linghe River.

Using a telescope, the workers meticulously observe the swans from a distance, diligently recording key details such as the number of birds, the date, weather conditions, and temperature in their portable "Swan Diary."

This special initiative began in March 2018 after Liu witnessed a swan collide with a cable, causing a loud bang from the sky.

"I saw it break its wing, emitting continuous whines," recalled Liu. "That scene pained my heart."

To ensure the safety of these migratory birds, the Chaoyang power supply company decided to establish a swan-guarding crew comprising six power linemen, including Liu.

The company has also invited bird experts to conduct lectures and collaborate on formulating swan protection plans.

Initially, the team regularly visited the Baishi Reservoir to study the living habits and flight trajectories of birds. They found that when swans flew back and forth from upstream to downstream on the Linghe River during the dim light of dusk and dawn, poor visibility made them highly susceptible to colliding with high-voltage lines.

After several rounds of discussions and tests, the company implemented various measures to prevent such tragedies, including the installation of red aviation warning balls, audible and visual alarms, and remote floodlights.

"These techniques have greatly facilitated swan protection," said Gu Degang, one of the six swan guardians.

During peak time of bird activity in the evening and early morning, Liu and colleagues form two teams, operating in shifts to stand guard.

The spring weather in northeast China can be unpredictable. Liu vividly recalled a particular incident from last spring when a forceful gale, reaching a magnitude of 7, swept in unexpectedly during the night, causing the carefully placed floodlights to topple over.

Undeterred by the biting cold wind, Liu and his dedicated colleagues stood resolute. Despite their bodies swaying back and forth, they clung steadfastly to the lights. "We stay with the lights, no matter how harsh the conditions," said Liu.

Their unwavering commitment has helped transform the Baishi Reservoir into a vital stopover habitat for migratory birds in northeast Asia. Nowadays, about 80,000 birds, including swans and red-breasted mergansers, stop over at the Baishi Reservoir during their spring migration.

"Swan protection has seamlessly become a part of our life. As power workers, we are delighted to contribute to the development of ecological civilization," said Yu Huan, another member of the crew.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


Related Stories