Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Final Act - a morning in Chengdu

All the others had left for Beijing in order to fly home to Europe. I flew from Xingang to Chengdu arriving late, so I found a small hotel & crashed out.  Chengdu is an amazing place, typical of the Chinese economic boom. A city of 12 million people & you probably have never heard of it!

One of the older parts of this very modern city.

A hard, early morning birding?
 I had a morning free before I flew home & I aimed to make the most of it! I leapt out of bed (not too difficult this morning, as the bed was not too inviting)! But it was a grey morn, with light rain. I called a taxi & was at Du Fu Cottage within minutes. I had been told that this was a good spot to spend a morning & perhaps see one or two new species for me. Even though it was early, there were a lot of people around & Chinese people tend to be a little noisy! But as I entered through the gate a scene of tranquility surrounded me. I had entered a time warp & stepped into another age!

The following is taken from a tourist pamphlet & gives you a good idea of why Du Fu Cottage is regarded as something quite special.

Located at the west gate of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, Du Fu Cottage is the former residence of a great Tang Dynasty poet called Dufu. In 759 AD, in order to escape the war, Dufu moved to Chengdu from Gansu Province with his whole family. After he settled down in Chengdu, he built a cottage as his house, which was named Chengdu Cottage. Dufu stayed in the cottage for four years, writing over 240 poems in that time. The cottage is therefore regarded as the Sacred Land in Chinese Literature history.

After Dufu left Chengdu, the cottage was damaged and demolished. The present cottage was built by poet Weizhuang in the First Shu Dynasty (907-925 A.D), during the Five Dynasties, and was rebuilt and restored in the following dynasties. In 1500 and 1811 two great restorations took place, which settled the style and layout of the cottage integrating Dufu’s former residence and his memorial museum. The place has therefore become a great attraction in Chengdu, of ancient Chinese construction.

The cottage covers an area of almost 59 acres, a special size for Chinese classical garden design. It is divided into different zones according to function, such as the Plum Garden, Cottage Temple, and the former site of the cottage, in the middle axis of which are screen walls, gates, a Chinese Poem History Hall, the Chai Gate and the Gongbu Temple. There are many rooms in every side for exhibiting the antiques and utensils used by Dufu at that time.

As I walked quietly along the paths Light-vented Bulbuls were the commonest species – they seemed to be everywhere. White-browed Laughing Thrushes were equally abundant. I must have seen at least 50+ birds. An area of bamboo revealed 12 Vinous-throated Parrotbills feeding quietly. Always great to get a Parrotbill tick!  There were plenty of Red-rumped Swallows above the lake; several Speckled Piculets; Chinese Blackbirds & a nice Asian Paradise Flycatcher. It was a very pleasant way to spend my final morning in China.

Light-vented Bulbul

 White-browed Laughing Thrush

Vinous-throated Parrotbill

Chengdu Airport is very modern & efficient & before long, I was winging my way high above both the clouds & the impressive mountains which lay below. It had been quite a month & quite a trip! I sipped my beer & smiled. 

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