Napa Lake: Flights of Fancy

Updated: 2015-05-18 07:47

By Han Lianxian(China Daily)

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Napa Lake: Flights of Fancy

The lake boasts spectacular scenery. [Photo by Peng Jiansheng/China Daily]

I was amazed to see whooper swans swoop over the lake. I watched spoonbills in 2001 and woolly-necked storks in 2011.

I first visited Napa Lake at the end of 1984, when bar-headed geese and various wild duck species clouded the sky while braving poachers' guns. The scene was spectacular. I've visited frequently since 2005, when transportation became easier.

Black-necked cranes rank among the world's most protected plateau birds.

They walk with royal stature, heads held high and wings spread gracefully. They even peck like aristocrats.

Their courtship is a spectacle. Males dance around females, wings casually drooping, before females dance back, wings extended. The climax comes when they take turns hopping and calling.

Females lay two eggs at a time. Food fights often lead to bloodshed. Only the strongest survive.

I made it a point to observe a family. The younger hatchling had lighter feathers and awkwardly searched for food. Parents served fish, shrimp and insects.