For more than a year Birding Beijing has been a proud partner of EcoAction, a new and innovative Chinese organisation focused on education for the environment, sustainable development and ecotourism. In November I helped to introduce birding to a group of middle school students at the Botanical Gardens in Beijing. On Friday I will travel to Hainan, an island off the south coast of China, to help lead my first field trip outside the capital. We will be taking 16 students to Yinggeling (鹦哥岭) Nature Reserve in the remote and mountainous centre of Hainan.
The reserve covers a large area – 33km from north to south and 39km from east to west – crossing the boundaries of Baisha, Wuzhishan and Qiongzhong Counties, and with an elevation range of 200-1812m. It is apparently the largest remaining contiguous tract of primary rainforest in China.
Yinggeling is a treasure trove of biological diversity and recent scientific expeditions have discovered many new species, including more than a dozen new trees and the Yinggeling Tree Frog (first described in 2003). Scientists believe that there are still many discoveries to be made in this relatively unspoiled part of China.
We are privileged to have been invited into the heart of the nature reserve (no wifi or mobile phone signal and not even electricity or running water!), where we will be hosted by staff from the conservation organisation, Kadoorie Farm, and local minority people. The aim is to demonstrate to the students the beauty and value of a forest ecosystem and the intricate dependencies, from the smallest leaf-ant to the mammals and birds of prey at the top of the food chain. Activities will include exploring the forest looking for, and studying plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and, of course birds, as well as learning about the local Li minority’s culture and how they have lived in harmony with the environment for generations.
It’s going to be an adventure… and with three Chinese endemics possible – Hainan Peacock-pheasant, Hainan Partridge and Hainan Leaf Warbler – as well as a host of amazing wildlife, I can’t wait!
Here are a couple of photos of the reserve to whet the appetite…