Amateur photographer has a keen eye for city's birds
Birds in focus in September in NanhuiKai Pflug
Birds in focus Nanhui areaKai Pflug
Have you ever noticed the many feathered friends around us in the city? Kai Pflug, a German who has lived in Shanghai for more than 18 years, does.
Pflug works as a consultant for chemical companies. In his spare time, he is a bird photographer, a hobby he has been pursuing for seven years.
"Mostly, I think birds are very beautiful. And for me it is much easier to appreciate this beauty when taking photos rather than just watching them," Pflug said.
In Shanghai, his main location for stalking and photographing birds is Nanhui area in Pudong.
"Frankly, I do not know exactly how many bird species I have photographed," he said.
He estimates the figure is more than 370, and their habitats include Chongming, Jiading and Songjiang districts and the Pudong New Area.
"Chongming Island is an interesting place to see birds, particularly in winter. Occasionally, there are also interesting birds in urban parks as well, particularly the Century Park in Pudong."
Pflug has observed many birds at his residential complex in Jiading District's Jiangqiao Town. Some birds even nest and lay eggs there.
His photos of birds are displayed on the bulletin boards of the community, attracting many residents and triggering their interest.
"April, May, September and October are the best seasons for bird observation. It's now the season for migratory birds to bypass Shanghai," he said.
One of his photos depicts the warm moment of a sparrow mother feeding her hatchling.
Pflug is also interested in the Eurasian hoopoe which is very distinctive due to its fan-like crest.
"It is very rarely seen in Germany, but I saw it at my community," he said. "Red-flanked bluetails only visit in winter, and I was lucky to photograph a male one."
At the residential complex, Pflug has observed 25 bird species, and recorded many precious images of them.
He spends a lot of time reading about birds. "I have a library of more than 1,000 bird books," said Pflug.
There are more parks and less pollution in Shanghai, he said.
The Outer Ring Road forest belt of Jiangqiao area has a better ecological environment compared with previous years, and Pflug said he often photographs birds there.
The birds' peak migration flyover of the city is expected in October with Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve, Jiuduansha Wetland Nature Reserve, Hengsha Dongtan and Nanhui Dongtan being some of the best observation spots.
The continuously improving environment of the city has attracted an increasing number of birds.
Nearly 520 species of birds have been recorded in the city so far, with a number of natural habitats already established, Shanghai's greenery authorities announced.
Located at the estuary of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is an important stop on the migration route of birds from East Asia to Australia due to its vast coastal and inter-tidal zones that provide venues for rest and food sources for waterfowl, and also its unique geographic location.
The number of bird species Shanghai has recorded accounts for 35.7 percent of the nation's total, according to Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.
Among them, 26 are national first-class protected species, and 91 national second-class protected species.
Six are critically endangered species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In recent years, natural areas in the city, including the Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve and Jiuduansha Wetland Nature Reserve, as well as Nanhui Dongtan, Wusong River bird perch and Jiading Pengmen Wetlands, have become paradises for birds and other wild animals, the bureau said.
Covering 9.67 hectares, Wusong River bird habitat in Minhang District, close to the Suzhou Creek ecological corridor in the south, features about 130 varieties of plants such as mulberry and canna. These have significantly improved the water environment and provided feed to birds.
So far, the habitat has recorded 55 species of birds such as the little grebe and little egret. Nearly 3,300 birds of 76 species have been recorded in Hengsha Dongtan area and seven, such as the reed parrot bill and broad-billed sandpiper, are national second-class protected species.
"Shanghai has quite a number of habitats for its avian friends," said Ge Zhiyuan, a bird expert.
"Nanhui Dongtan is an ideal place for bird watching as it boasts more than 85 percent of bird species recorded in Shanghai," said Ge.
"If people don't want to travel far, urban areas such as the Century Park feature large plant coverage and are recommended places where a large number of forest 'fairies' are hidden.
"In recent years, Shanghai's increasing green coverage has contributed to greater biodiversity," said Ge.
"Green spaces and ecological corridors have been built in many blocks along rivers, and their rich aquatic plants give birds a sense of security, enabling daily bird observation for residents," Ge added.
Some unexpected visitors have been spotted in recent years.
A laughing gull was spotted in Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve in July, the first time that the species has been seen on the Chinese mainland.
The species has only been seen in Taiwan a few times in the past, according to Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.
The gull, named after its chirp, which sounds like a human laugh, was seen fighting with a tern.
The nature reserve has been recommended for UNESCO World Heritage listing as a nominated area of China's Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf (Phase II) .
It will be the city's first World Heritage Site if inscribed.
It has recorded about 300 species of birds, including 22 globally threatened species, 18 national first-class protected species and 59 national second-class protected species.
Bird observation spots in Shanghai:
Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve
Jiuduansha Wetland Nature Reserve
Nanhui Dongtan area
Wusong River bird perch
Jiading Pengmen Wetland