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Napa Lake: Flights of Fancy

2015-05-26
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Bar-headed geese flock to the Napa Lake from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. [Photo by Peng Jiansheng/China Daily]

Birds and flowers surrounding Napa Lake, in Southeast China's Yunnan Province, make the place look like a traditional Chinese scenic painting come to life.

The water body tucked in a toe of the Hengduan Mountains' foothills has long served as a stopover for avian visitors. About 20,000 birds flock to the area every year.

As an ornithologist, I keep my eyes not only on the skies but also on the water. Its surface spans several square kilometers in winter, when the area attracts more than 50 species. It expands during the rainy season.

But dry-season swamps offer migrating birds better pickings.

Bar-headed geese and black-necked cranes flutter in from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Black storks, wild ducks, coots and great crested grebes sail in from northern China in the fall and winter.

The surrounding mountains, flecked with farmhouses, offer ideal vantage points from which to watch birds. Residents have long remained protective of wildlife.