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December 19, 2013

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Birdwatching festival kicks off at Dongtan

The third Dongtan Wetland Bird Festival at the Chongming Nature Reserve kicked off yesterday as migratory birds from Russia and Northeast China make the reserve their home. The festival also offers a good escape from the smog and haze affecting large parts of Shanghai.

Park officials said Chongming Dongtan is the best place for bird-watching in Shanghai because it is an important migration flyway for cranes, waterfowls and shorebirds in Northeast Asia to Australia.

The wetland provides rich food and a safe stopover and wintering habitat for migratory birds who replenish themselves before taking off for their onward journey.

Over the past years, more than 290 kinds of birds were spotted in Dongtan, including hooded crane, mandarin duck, little curlew and black-faced spoonbill.

Dongtan hosts approximately 1 million migratory birds every year.

Birdwatchers can use high-powered telescope to observe the migratory birds in the sky, or looking for food or resting in the reeds. But park officials warn visitors must keep their distance from the birds and not feed them.

Birdwatchers can drive to the reserve on Dongwang Avenue in Chongming and park their vehicles at the entrance of the park. They then have to walk about 20 minutes to the reserve. Admission is free but visitors have to register at the gate and get a visitor pass.

The park is open from 9am to 11:30am and 12:30pm to 4:30pm from Tuesday to Sunday. It is not open on Monday.

Visitors can also call 021-59471556 for more details.

The festival will last till the end of February during which lot of activities will be held including a bird photo contest, a teenager bird drawing test and a bird-net cleanup activity.

Dongtan, because of the wetland, has the best air quality in Shanghai. The average reading of tiny PM2.5 particles in Dongtan was 35 micrograms per cubic meter in the past three years, much lower than the national limit of 75.

When Shanghai hit a record PM2.5 reading of 600 earlier this month, it was around 100 in Dongtan, said reserve official Tang Chendong.

However, the wetland is too small to affect the whole air quality in Shanghai, said Jiang Dahe, a professor at Tongji University. Jiang said coal-burning is the biggest source of haze in the city.



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