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Caohai (Caohai Lake) for birding

Caohai is localized near the town of Weining. In 1992, it became a national nature reserve and enjoys an area of approximately 20 square kilometers with vast expansive wetlands full of water plants and grass. It is the largest freshwater lake in northwest Guizhou at an elevation of 2,171 meters.

The rich water conditions provide birds with an excellent environment and the annual average temperature is 12ºC making it the best place for birds to migrate to, such as black-necked cranes, which go to Caohai Lake for winter after breeding in the Tibetan Plateau.

Black necked craneBlack necked crane

Caohai Lake is one of the best places for bird-watching in China, and the WWF has listed it as one of the top 10 bird-watching destinations in the world. Over 100,000 birds migrate there for winter between December and March. 179 species of rare birds, 87 bred bird species, 75 resident species, and 12 species of summer visitors have been recorded.

Some protected bird species are found in Caohai Lake, such as black-necked cranes, black storks, golden and imperial eagles, white-bellied sea eagles, Siberian white cranes, and egrets. Most of the birds are found in the Boqiwan area, and you can also watch birds in Jiangjiawan, Keluoshan, Baijiazhuizi, and Yangguanshan. The Siberian white crane can only be observed in winter from October to April.

Tuoda Forest is 60 kilometers northwest of Caohai Lake and is a nature reserve for the protection of the endangered Reeves's pheasant. The Reeves's pheasant is unique (endemic) to China but, as a result of widespread deforestation, its numbers have fallen in recent years and its total population is probably no more than 5,000.

The best times to observe birds in Caohai Lake are February and March.

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