The best places for winter birding in Yunnan

In the season of winter when migratory birds flock into Yunnan, many (wetland) parks are highlighted by such birds as the red-beaked seagulls in Kunming and black-necked cranes in Huize, Zhaotong and Shangri-La. The best time is between November and March.


Seagulls, Kunming
Each year since 1985, tens of thousands of red-beaked seagulls migrate to Kunming from Siberia to spend winter, and seagulls have become an important part of local life in Kunming. There are a dozens of places in the city to see them but the best ones include the Green Lake Park, Daguan Park, Haigeng Dike and Haigeng Park. It is also feasible to watch birds in the Yuantong Zoo and Yunnan Wildlife Park both of which are based in Kunming.


Nianhu Lake (260 km from Kunming), Huize County, NE Yunnan
Nianhu was approved as a nature reserve for the black-necked cranes in 1994, and from November to March these cute angels migrate to spend winter here.


Dashanbao Wetland (400 km from Kunming), Zhaotong, NE Yunnan
It is a state-level nature reserve of Zhaotong City in Northeast Yunnan, with the altitude ranging from 2,215 to 3,664 metres (7,267-12,020 ft). Dashanbao is a winter habitat of black-necked cranes as well as a plateau wetland. Inside the nature reserve, one can admire the majestic, steep Rooster Mountain Valley.


Caohai Wetland (450 km from Kunming), Heqing County, NW Yunnan
With a protected area of 400 hectares, the reserve is 40 km south from Lijiang. Migratory birds here include the black-necked cranes, common crane, egrets, mallards, and Rubber Duck etc.


Lashi Lake (490 km from Kunming), Lijiang, NW Yunnan
Yunnan's first wetland nature reserve, Lashi Lake is base of the Natural Conservancy, exhibiting an altitude of 2,437 metres (7,995 ft). As a habitat of migratory birds, it is where Chinese merganser, black-necked cranes, and black cranes etc are protected.


Napa Lake (620 km from Kunming), Shangri-La, NW Yunnan
In the Tibetan, Napa means the lake behind the forests. As a seasonal plateau lake, the Napa Lake is an ideal habitat of black-necked cranes in Shangri-La, with the altitude being 3,266 metres (10,715 ft). The Napa Lake is a significant plateau wetland in Northwest Yunnan, offering views of plateau meadows, snow-capped mountains and migrant birds etc.

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