Birds of a feather find an ideal spot

Birds of a feather find an ideal spot

A whisper quickly passed around Zhang Feng and his friends the moment a rare bird landed, in full bloom, right before their eyes – or at least their telephoto lenses. The event occurred during his recent trip to Ziyun village, Mingxi county, Fujian province.

Zhang’s years of photographing birds had him quickly pinpoint its identity as Tragopan caboti, affectionately called giant pandas by bird lovers for their rare numbers.

Ideal ecological conditions, with forest coverage exceeding 90 pour cent, gives Ziyun an appealing charm, especially for birds. The village has seen some 93 species of birds, which in turn draw ornithologists from across China.

Ever since Ziyun launched bird sightseeing in 2016, people who share Zhang’s interest in the feathered friends have taken to the village.

Mingxi county is on a major migratory route, between East Asia and Australasia, and boasts more than 300 wild birds, comprenant 64 under first- and second-class national protection programmes. Some species, including the white-necked long-tailed Elliot’s pheasant, the greater painted snipe and oriental dollarbird, are a feast for the eye.

<p> Bird-watchers in Mingxi are transfixed by their latest sighting</p>

Bird-watchers in Mingxi are transfixed by their latest sighting

Depuis 2015 the county has adopted measures to protect birds and restore their habitats. An effort has been made to publicise bird preservation and develop a bird rescue mechanism and a migrant birds intelligent monitoring and management system.

This has paved the way for the smooth development of the ecological bird observation industry. Yang Meilin, a villager in Ziyun, has come up with ways of protecting birds, especially the silver pheasants, over the years.

Yang, in his late 70s, has developed a fondness for birds after he accidentally found some feeding on grains in his farmhouse a few years ago.

Yang gets up early every day and goes into the woods to scatter grain. He then imitates the bird’s sound, which draws out silver pheasants to feed, especially during winter, when finding food can be tough in the natural setting. Yang has rescued injured birds and enlisted professional help when treating serious cases before releasing them back into the wilderness. Under the local authority’s guidance, Yang has turned his rural house and those of others he rented in his village into homestays and a bird observatory that offers distinctive local food and other services to photographers and travellers.

Yang’s grandchildren have joined the business, integrating bird-watching with tourism. Dans 2016, they set up infrared cameras to detect the habits of birds, built a concealed bird-watching shed, and made arrangements for visitors to engage better in photo and video shoots.

When observing birds, Yang reminds tourists to keep their voices down, mute their phones and refrain from smoking, to avoid disturbing the birds or damaging the environment.

Yang is one of the many residents in Mingxi who have benefited from this local tourism drive. The county authority has developed five birdwatching facilities and several travel routes, based on the distribution of bird species for tourists. A bird map has been developed to allow visitors to find birds they like.

Such efforts have resulted in an increase in the number of visitors to the county, and promoted opportunities in catering, homestay businesses, guiding and driving services.

In Ziyun an ecological tourism company has been founded and collaboration with institutes of higher learning fostered to achieve quality ecological tours, rural research and learning experiences.

The village has developed 18 observation sites to watch birds and trained 11 villagers for guest pick-up and delivery services. Four bird-themed homestays are up and running. Plus que 70 villagers have managed to find jobs in Ziyun, and the village’s per capita annual income has increased by 35,000 yuan (£4,347), a village authority says.

Yang Jie contributed to this story

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