When: September 2015 Weather: Moderate, 26C
Bird photos: Nikon P900. Others: Leica M240 21mm Super elmar and 35mm Summilux
Whilst West Lake or Xi Hu in Hangzhou gets all the acclaim, it is busy and crowded around the lake, so I was delighted to find out that there was a bird sanctuary called the Xixi wetlands about 5 km from westlake. I paid two visits to it, the first in the afternoon to recce it with my friends and then again the next morning for the birding on my own. Arriving at Xixi from the city, we got off at the main entrance which is the second entrance where we boarded the tourist boats for a cruise of the many waterways that criss cross the wetlands. Useful for a general view of the area and is quite scenic but not good for birding…
Xixi Wetland Park: the first wetland conservation area in china
Tour boat around the wetlands..there is a silly rule that disallows passengers from sitting or standing outside and insists that all passengers remain inside the cabin….the boat captain was a dour character who would not have it otherwise…sigh
Setting off on the boat, the waterways are well kept with manicured gardens..
well kept waterways
a truly scenic wetland
A boat left over from a movie filmed here…”If you are the one”
We alighted at the third stop and walked a bit…among the old buildings….
buildings with character
We ended up in one of the little shops where we tasted the sweet persimmons…yum
the only bird I saw this first outing was this sparrow!
But realising that the wetland park had potential, I returned bright and early the next morning at 730am and was dropped off at the first entrance near the Bird Sanctuary at Lotus Pond. The Xixi wetlands doesn’t officially open till 8 or 830am but there are plenty of green birding areas to scout out even before the gates open.
this is the walkway alongside the main tien shan road running along the park…it overlooks a big waterway…walking here was quite productive..
Juvenile Black capped night heron
Another one perched above the water
The first and probably most common sighting was the light vented bulbul..
here, taking flight
The light vented bulbul has interesting prinia like yellow markings on the wing
and several little brown jobs like this appeared very actively buzzing around the bushes
Parrotbill…? Vinous throated?
Walking into the wetlands, the bird sanctuary is a few hundred metres away….and there is quite a lot to see along the way….the finches above…and then….
this handsome fellow was way up in the trees…
A long tailed shrike
he was singing away merrily
the greenery around was colourful
The persimmons were fruiting…
A little grebe
after a few hundred metres, you come across this sculpture indicating your arrival at the bird sanctuary
The “Bird Reserve in Lotus Beach” Place names in Hangzhou environs have charming names….
When you walk into the sanctuary on well laid paths, it’s obvious that a lot of care has gone into creating and maintaining a great environment for the birds to flourish…hides are constructed with pictures of the local birds etc….
A large hide from which to view the birds..
a walk through the bamboo copse…as if it was in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon!
A pair of common sparrows?
Black billed magpie…with a flash of blue on the wing
Black billed magpie up close
And my star bird of the morning was this endearing Black throated Bushtit
Black throated Bushtit
there were pretty bridges everywhere
platform of one of the hides
emerging from the sanctuary, if you turn left and head towards the Xixi wetland museum, you see this monstrous building that is a real blot on the landscape…..
So that’s it. I think that the Xixi wetlands is a gem of a sanctuary, much less congested and more natural than Westlake itself…the bonus is that it’s not far away and easily accessed. The migratory season hadn’t really started yet so the numbers of birds were not vast. It was still fun though and highly recommended for the birder….