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Great Lakes News

  When the
  wind whistled, the boat we were riding in seemed to be overturned by a pair of huge and powerful hands. That vague horizon is even more ethereal in the waves of the air. If it weren’t for recognizing the different species of birds, I would feel like we’ve been stuck on an endless waterway.
  Geological evolution has allowed East Dongting Lake to form a unique wetland system. Half land and half water, the near-surface temperature in winter is slightly higher than the average temperature in the far lake area at the same latitude, rich plants and fish are abundant, and migratory birds also leave unusual life trajectories here. I opened the thick bird atlas and read the migratory birds on the paper – the little white-fronted geese, the oriental white stork, the crested wheat pheasant, the fantail sand cone, the mercerized starling, the Amur falcon, the pike, the blue-throated Bee-eaters…
  These beautiful names are some representatives of the 359 species of birds recorded in the East Dongting Lake Wetland. Most birds belong to the class family with a long list of bird species. There are more than 8,700 species of birds in the world, and the birds in East Dongting Lake account for less than 4%.
  Going to the hinterland of the lake, there is always an orange light in front of you, the shape of a toffee, no matter how far you go, the wind follows you like a wild child, running with your feet spread. Lao Zhang said that the wind is a part of the life of migratory birds, and only in the wind can they be truly alive. Those creatures thousands of miles away rely on the wind to complete the migration of their lives.
  Those stranded and hibernated fishing boats are the largest “birds” on the lake, guarding the winter time like “old waiters”. The remaining few fishermen use their winter leisure to clean up their fishing gear. They ambush the long net pockets like the “Cage King”, and try their luck to harvest some Spring Festival goods. This kind of fishing gear, which is deeply loved by fishermen, is synonymous with what you get for nothing. The “King of Earth Cage” crawls in shallow water. When people in the reserve see this kind of cage king, they want to take it away, but the fishermen will buy it from other places in secret. They almost never imagined that this kind of fishing tool popular in the hands of their ancestors would soon be available. Disappeared from life with the advent of a ten-year fishing ban.
  Station Master Xiao Yu picked up an expensive SWAROVSKI telescope to look around. It was the first time I could see the distance beyond my sight from this expensive and exquisite monocular. The telescope, translated as “Swarovski”, is dust-proof, fog-proof, and waterproof.
  I searched for swans, and at first there were one or two scattered. The backlight is slightly obscured by fog, and many white spoonbills and egrets have shrunk into white dots. Red hemp ducks and ribbed ducks are stationed in their respective territories in groups. Poke the grass. The reflection of the water in the distance gives the clear sky over the lake a cobalt blue light. The sound of the red-yellow-brown red hemp duck popping out of its mouth was like a snowball sliding down from the top of the mountain. The male red hemp duck has a black collar on its neck, and its mouth, feet and tail are also black. When flying, its wings are yellow and white, which is very eye-catching. Red hemp ducks are more common in the lake area, and sometimes go to farmland and lake ponds to forage for food. Diving is their specialty. They seem to swim quietly on the water, but suddenly they will bend over, roll into the water, and move quickly. After exiting the water, they swallow fish and shrimp in their mouths, but their heads keep looking around, vigilantly guarding their own safety. When it flew out of the water, the lake surface ripples bloomed, and it also splashed crystal water droplets.
  The Pugun boat accelerated towards the center of the lake, the mud splashed behind the boat flew high, and the number of swans entering the field of vision increased sharply. A colony of dozens of swans ran into our eyes, their necks bowed almost at right angles, leisurely and gracefully lying still on the water. Other birds were always flying fast, and the Swarovski frame was so far apart that it couldn’t contain them and the ground. The boat stopped, and the stationmaster Xiaoyu recorded the satellite positioning and said that he had entered the concentrated habitat of swans.
  The flying posture of any bird is impeccable, and this yearning first comes from the shortcomings of human beings. The flying swan makes people’s heart pounding. With the assistance of wings and tails, they tap waves to start running, and complete a series of pleasing movements such as volleying, gliding, crossing, and soaring. When a swan flies, it basically alternates in three ways: flapping, gliding, and soaring. Its wide wings flap quickly and forcefully, and the wingtips swing forward and downward to generate thrust, which is similar to the role of wings to generate lift. In fact, each of its primary flight feathers is like a propeller. When the thrust is greater than the resistance, its flight will be accelerated, like an airplane breaking out of the thick clouds. Its power erupted from its tightened wings, like fins on the sea, surging against the waves, and the turbulent waves splashed into the sky, turning into clouds, white sprites in the sky, rendered as moving golden specks, emanating from Blurred but transparent light, people feel a kind of quiet beauty. I am keen to find the figure of the swan when it takes off. One or two, sometimes a small team, lugging slightly fat bodies, I’m always worried that they won’t be able to fly.
  In the afternoon, the sun dissipates the haze, and the water surface is bright and golden. The temperature is soaring, and so are the birds. Hundreds of thousands of red hemp ducks swirled and chased, like playing a game of Tai Chi formation, and egrets flew in line as before. Birds of prey are all solo flyers, while cranes, geese, and ducks have to form a beautiful “herring” formation when flying in groups. Spoon-billed sandpipers will fly out of a long and wide chain. It suddenly appeared on top of your head.
  Most migratory birds are undisciplined, loose, messy, and without formation, such as those cute chubby red hemp ducks. Birds go to a lake and wrinkle, birds come to half the sky. When the Chinese merganser flies, it has attractive and striking black and white, its beak is flat on the side, and the front end is pointed like a slightly curved hook. Black head and upper back, and white lower back, loin and upper tail coverts, entwined with black scaly flanks. The moment it was close to the water, it was stinged by the strong sunlight, like a finless porpoise leaping out to take a breath. The stationmaster Xiaoyu opened the chat box, and I was impressed by his familiarity with birds.
  He suddenly spotted a group of black-tailed godwits and hurriedly handed over the binoculars. For this kind of Chinese traveler, Dongting Lake is only an energy supply station for its long journey. The black-tailed godwit is greenish-brown all over, with a long beak and long legs, and when flying, it looks like a long sword that pierces the air. The thin pattern on the abdomen is like a long and narrow green leaf. Its cry was like the savage laughter of an unceremonious person. The stationmaster Xiaoyu said that in the summer, they would meet them in deep water to hunt for food. They were as red as the breeding plumes of flames.
  Poison
  On the way to the next observation point, an episode happened. We unexpectedly met a swan floating on the shallow water, and its slender neck lost its former softness and became stiff. This is a route pointed by Lao Zhang. He originally closed his eyes and rested, suddenly stood up and instructed the driver to move towards the ten o’clock direction. The stationmaster Xiaoyu said that Lao Zhang’s ears were very smart, and he could hear the whispers of birds, the wind in the air and the secret conversation of the lake.
  too far. From the cold waters in the north to the tropical coral reefs, beaches and deep seas in the south, peaks, plateaus, mesas, deserts, wetlands, grasslands, beaches, forests, and tropical rain forests, birds travel through these large-span habitats. Even in the 1,900-square-kilometer wetlands in the East Dongting Lake, there are dozens of large and small lakes, and different birds will selectively inhabit. For example, Qixing Lake is the most favored place by swans, and it was also a water area with frequent poisonous bird incidents.

  The boat passed by the dead swan, and Lao Zhang bent down and picked it up. The moment I picked it up, my heart sank, and the swan’s neck sank down. The shadow of death devoured its former glory. The good mood of our day has been darkened since then.
  Suddenly, a shrill voice came from a distance, and there seemed to be a commotion in the distance. Many birds flew up, and one of them was a swan, passing through the black curlew. The swan was like a lightsaber, piercing the darkness, the scoops spasmed and spread out in panic, the swan seemed to turn back, as if shaking off the dust on its body, becoming more and more lonely and dazzling. But it didn’t take long for its head and tail to be clearly seen, and it merged with the foggy sky, and the faint light could be seen swaying, and the indescribable desolation in the sound was heard. It was a mourning for the sudden loss of a companion’s life, and a meditation on the nothingness between heaven and earth.
  The wind seemed to have stopped, and the swan, which had no vital signs, was carefully placed in the plastic frame in the middle of the cabin, with its head resting on the left side of the boat, the brown iris eyes were wide open, the once white feathers were stained with muddy water, messy and dirty. . There are only two causes of death in swans: natural death or poisoning, which can only be known after an autopsy. The experienced old Zhang has been rolling on the lake for many years, and he knows that the daring poisonous bird elements often take risks, and the price of such a swan on the table can reach thousands of yuan. He made a decisive decision and stepped on the nearby waters. This is a code word for inspection and law enforcement. Those boats scattered around the beach may be hiding crimes that are not visible.
  Those scattered ships, like grey islands, stood helplessly among the black and gold ripples of the sea. The Pugun boat moves towards the “grey island”, and the misty light flows obliquely, making the soft lines of the lake stiff.
  A small wooden boat was docked alone in a water. Approaching slowly, the old man in a tattered padded jacket stood on the bow of the boat, with his neck shrunk, his eyes bewildered as we “flyed” over. A self-built mud dam blocked the boat, so the boat could not pull over, so we were forced to stop more than ten meters away from the boat. Lao Zhang greeted the old man in local dialect and tried to get on the boat with the help of a raft tied to the side of the wooden boat. The old man pretended to be deaf and dumb, dawdling for a few rounds, as if to conclude that our intentions were not good, and walked towards the muddy mudflat with the intention of running away. The old man looked back three steps at a time, perhaps trying to stop us from walking away. In the vast swamp, his body is like a mud tire, how can he escape only with the strength of his feet.
  Lao Zhang, who finally got on the boat, was full of anger, and quickly lifted the board of the boat that contained the poisoned swan, which confirmed his hunch. Immediately, he jumped back to the Pugun boat, instructed the driver to step on the accelerator, and a cloud of blue smoke, like the smoke from the demon-subduing bottle, flew towards the distant shadow in the lake. The old man was escorted onto the boat after a while. In the washbasin under the deck of the cabin, there were bean geese and swans who had just cleaned their feathers. Under the humble coal stove at the stern, the remaining half-pack of poison was thrown there casually. On the packaging bag, the three characters “K Budweiser” were arrogant and murderous.
  ”When was the poison dropped?”
  ”In which waters?”
  ”Where is the rest of the poison hidden?”
  ”Are there any poisoned birds hidden elsewhere?”
  ”Where did the accomplices go?”
  …
  Lao Zhang was aggressive, a little proud, and a little angry. The old man stuttered, his voice low to the mudflat. His body trembled, and sweat dripped from his pale forehead. The lake wind was blowing vigorously, pulling his soul away.
  pain
  In the midsummer of 2021, when I returned from Qixing Lake, I made a special detour to Caisang Lake. In the late 1950s, the Qianliang Lake Farm was separated by a 10,000-mu Caisang Lake, which became the gray crane, bean geese, small white-fronted geese, ribbed ducks, bearded gulls, The main breeding habitat and food supply of the anti-billed sandpiper waiting bird. People here live together because of the lake. Before 2014, it was an independent market town. There are many old place names in the villages under its jurisdiction, such as Qianlong, Pioneer, Qiankou, Guanyin, Yandun, Xiaotai, etc. Merge disappeared from administrative maps.
  I was inquiring with those fishermen who had changed their identity and production and lifestyle. He Laosi, the main criminal of the once sensational poisonous bird case, could blow a beautiful whistle and imitate the sound of birds, which was almost real. The different details that everyone narrates always makes me feel like listening to a story with no end. So my friend helped me contact Lao Gao, the deputy director of the reserve. Lao Gao knew the details of those people, and every case of bird hunting and poisoning on the lake must go through his hands.
  The one-sided relationship between Lao Gao and I was the night when the poison birdman was escorted back to the city by the Qixing Lake. I remember that when we returned to the city in the same car, he, who was not a poet, recited the sadness in his heart: “The birds on the beach are gone, and the birds in the lake are gone. The Zhenjiang Tower is left empty, and the Dongting Snow is alone.
  ” Old Gao hesitated for a moment, his voice trembled slightly. He Laosi, of course he remembers the main culprit who was selected as one of the top ten typical cases of environmental resources criminal trials in the national courts and the top ten exchange cases of the United Nations Environment Programme. He seemed to lift the shadow covering the smoothness, awakening the sharp pain hidden in his heart.
  ”Dealing with the poisonous birdmen on the lake is a battle of wits and courage.” This was Lao Gao’s opening remarks.
  A few days before the confrontation with He Laosi, Lao Gao was quite restless, and often deserted when talking to people. The informant secretly reported that there is a big action, but the exact time is uncertain. The informant is a repentant fisherman who has participated in He Laosi’s many poisonous bird crimes. There will be no false reports, but what makes Lao Gao both excited and uneasy is whether this opportunity, which he has been waiting for so earnestly, will be aborted due to the cunning of his opponent in order to get the stolen goods.
  He Laosi is the “Old Sparrow of Dongting Lake” who has seen the wind and waves. He has been in the junction area of ​​Hongqi Lake, Baihu Lake and Qixing Lake all the year round. thing. In order to keep it secret, Lao Gao studied the action plan within a small range, and arranged for personnel to wait for the rabbit at several landing sites. After investigation and analysis, it was confirmed that the location chosen by He Laosi to go ashore was Houhu Dam in Junshan, which is very important information. Lao Gao secretly summoned the scattered personnel back and concentrated on the dam for control. Because he was not sure when the other party would go ashore, he could only take turns to squat there. One afternoon, the squatting guards found that someone used a Pugun boat to drag a wooden boat to the waters of Xianglu Mountain, but the person did not dock. Lao Gao realized that He Laosi was a very vigilant person, and in order to avoid panicking, he arranged for the guards to evacuate the scene, leaving only one person to continue to monitor the scene.
  He Laosi is such a shrewd person, dawdling, sitting on the bow of the boat and smoking, until there were no suspicious people around, he rowed the boat back to the dock of the Pugun boat again. Taking advantage of the twilight, the two figures on the boat carried the bagged poisoned waterbirds to the wooden boat and stacked them in the second cabin. After they were done, they were covered with a torn quilt. The sky was getting darker and darker, the lake was completely silent, and there was no sound. When the boat reached a distance of 300 meters from the place where the fish was unloaded before, the sound of the machine stopped, the rippling ripples disappeared in circles, and the lake was silent again. The law enforcement officers who were hiding in the dark to monitor were secretly delighted, called Lao Gao and hurried over to board the ship to check. When He Laosi saw a stranger aboard the boat, he was blinded for a moment, and then yelled loudly: “What are you looking at, there is nothing on the boat, what are you doing here?” Encountered obstacles, the law enforcement officers revealed their identity, and He Laosi saw that the situation was not good. , with the other two suspects of poisonous birds, taking advantage of the cover of night and the complex geographical environment, abandoning the ship and fleeing. Lao Gao arrived with someone and immediately locked the evidence on the ship.

  This is a typical profit-driven adventure, and there is nothing to fear. The case soon came to a conclusion. The court sentenced seven criminals involved in the case who illegally killed precious and endangered wild animals and illegally hunted. He Laosi was sentenced to ten years in prison and a fine of RMB 10,000. . Participant on the least offense of illegal hunting was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for two years. The reserve also filed a civil lawsuit for the serious damage to the country’s natural resources caused by the person involved in the case, and recovered a fine of more than 80,000 yuan for natural resource damage.
  In those days, from the first instance to the second instance, the court ruled in accordance with the law and rejected the appeal to uphold the original judgment. Lao Gao’s heart was tense, like a person being pressed underwater, his breathing was blocked, and his headache was splitting, until he surfaced and completed the most hearty breath.   After Lao Gao
finished telling the story of He Laosi, he talked about the changes in the work of the reserve in the past few years.   At the end of 2018, the reserve purchased an aerodynamic boat, which can carry six people and can run at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour. In the past, a one-day round-trip lake cruise could be completed in two hours.   At the end of 2019, the Yangtze River and Dongting Lake were completely banned from fishing, and there were no fishing activities by fishermen on the lakes.   ……   Although I also fly outside like a migratory bird, these “big lake news” are often passed to my ears from various channels. It is a pity that I was not able to participate in the wintering waterfowl survey in early 2021. The results of the field investigation showed that there were nearly 300,000 birds living in the wintering grounds of East Dongting Lake in winter. Three hundred and fifty-nine species of birds have been recorded in the reserve, including 18 species such as white cranes, white-headed cranes, oriental white storks, great bustards, Chinese merganser ducks, and white-tailed sea eagles under first-level national protection. Sixty-six species of swans, white-fronted geese, and one hundred and seventeen species of freshwater fish…

  ”What would happen if life existed in the form of a bird?” Mr. Xiaoyu once asked me, and he has asked himself countless times. The young manager of the management station was later transferred from Qixing Lake to Hongqi Lake, and continued to run around on the front line of patrolling the lake. I found that what I saw in his circle of friends was the lake scenery, soft wind, quiet water, and the freedom and beauty of birds flying. Although Lao Zhang has retired, in the words of Lao Gao jokingly, he is still “in Cao Ying, at heart in Han, and always caring about the protected area”. One day, Lao Zhang sent me a poem:
  Seven stars hold the moon in the Dongting, and the song of birds and deer is refreshing.
  The guards fought in the mud to eliminate evil, and the French Open was inexorable.
  Where do migratory birds come from and where do they go? When I looked back at these experiences and sorted out my thoughts, I was at a loss, looking forward to grasping a branch that stretched out into the clouds from the distant sky, which has faded into the back of a wisp of clouds in the night sky.
  All migratory birds have their own language, with expressions in common with human language. The harmony and balance of nature, at the extreme moment of being broken, I am as sad as many people. Restoring harmony and balance is the essence of protecting a river and clear water. The most unique brushstrokes of nature are those migratory birds, who, in the deep cloud haze, use their flight to dress themselves up as the shining stars between heaven and earth. Migratory birds illuminate the clear night sky, and migratory birds understand this profound meaning…

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