Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

The Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea - Bohai Gulf of China cover a mudflat system serving as bird foraging and resting areas.

The inscribed area with 2 components is the first part of a much broader future one.

Map of Migratory Bird Sanctuaries

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Zoë Sheng

Chinese-Canadian in NZ - 04-Oct-19 -

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries  by Zoë Sheng

There was some confusion about where the places are until I checked the official map, and even now there is confusion. China news outlets reported the Dafeng Milu Nature Reserve to be included but actually it is not. There is an interesting history about that deer park (deer got eaten to extinction!!) and you do get to see many, many birds there but I am very sure it is not part of the inscription. My friend's family owns an eco lodge in a similar forest reserve in Jiangsu and you see many birds there of this caliber but they are obviously also not inscribed. To add to this, the entire "Yancheng Coast" is a bird paradise including several islands that are famous birdwatching destinations. China planned to inscribe many reserves/parks but ended up with just 2 to begin with - I'm guess to push the inscription through easier and add more later - but then again they do often just care about numbers so just having an inscription now doesn't mean they will prioritize extending it instead of grabbing a new +1.

Anyhow, there are 2 places near the town of Yancheng north of Shanghai and the only I chose to visit the site called "National Nature Reserve for Rare Birds". You can take a bus here from Shanghai (it's longer than you think) but I chose to fly to Yancheng instead. The flight is 1h from Hongqiao aiport. Upon arrival I took a taxi to the bus station for the K2 bus. There is a public bus from the airport to said bus station but I suspected it to take long. I only arrived at Yancheng at 2pm and the place I wanted to visit closes at 5 already. The K2 bus takes over an hour because the distance is still 40km. I made it to the reserve before 4pm. That might leave me with only 1h but I found it adequate for my kind of visiting. They didn't exactly kick me out at 5pm so I had 90 minutes in the park. If you are into birdwatching I understand you want to stay here longer for sure. The first striking thing you will see is the massive "crane" building, with the wings as roof and the head being a lookout tower!! Excellent idea.

After paying the 40 RMB I got to walk around on paths around the lakes. The red-crowned cranes are everywhere but they come in higher numbers in winter. I was told that September/October is the "best" time to visit but I think that's not necessarily true. There were many birds and the nature starts to become red-ish colors which some photographers totally dig, but the actual rare birds don't arrive from Siberia until it's dead cold up there. So perhaps November is the better time to go as it's still warm in the area and more birds have arrived. Other birds I saw was a Siberian crane, so yes they do come around this time! The main draw for birdwatchers are probably the tiny spoon-billed sandpipers because there are only a few dozen in the park at the most. They are not as cute as the one in the Pixar short but still a top sight because of their size and distinct bill. So, no, I didn't see one, and the picture is from a picture inside the building.

The area was already a Ramsar Wetland and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve before joining the ranks of WHS. The added protection is supposed to help the wetlands. I disagree that adding another title will help that much but if they say so I'm fine with it. The biggest problem is not the bird poachers but the degrading of the land by China's new cities being built up nearby. Is that actually going to stop? Not in a hundred years. There are actually some cities on what used to be wetland and they are only a decade old. Basically some investment group came in, bought land (or leased for 99 years as it is official in China) and dumped a community of houses as per blueprint all around the country. I'm actually thinking that having a world heritage nearby makes them sell land even more!

To sum up I always like nature reserves but this one seems like an attempt to get tourists rather than protection. The sight is nice for the casual birdwatchers and serious ones alike. Best time to go still TBD maybe the hardcore birdwatchers will just go once a month lol

p.s. if you want me to fold you one of those cranes you'll need to fork out $49.99 +p&p ;)

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Site Info

Full Name
Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I)
Unesco ID
Wildlife habitat - Fauna

Site History

2019 Advisory Body overruled

IUCN advised Deferral

2019 Inscribed


The site has 2 locations

Migratory Bird Sanctuaries : Jiangsu Dafeng National Nature Reserve
Migratory Bird Sanctuaries : The middle section of Jiangsu Yancheng National Nature Reserve


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