Bird Watching At Kinmen - a comprehensive local bird watching guide edited and compiled by Kinmen County Government has finally been published for circulation. Featuring exquisite print quality and rich image/text contents, Bird Watching At Kinmen is without a doubt the best souvenir one could find for foreign guests and visitors.


In the preface of Bird Watching At Kinmen, Kinmen County Magistrate Lee Chu-Feng wrote, "When you come to Kinmen, slow down your pace; let your mind and soul settle down so that you will be able to appreciate the harmony between culture and nature here with a peaceful mind. When you come to Kinmen, relax your senses so that you may witness with awe the beauty of Kinmen ecology that has come to existence from time immemorial."


Magistrate Lee went on by explaining that due to Kinmen's geographical location (right in the middle section along the arc-shaped coastal line of Mainland China), the county happens to be positioned along the route of migration for many species of birds and thus boasts rich bird ecology resources along with battlefield landscape and innocent folk customs of the Southern Fujian people. Due to Kinmen's natural environment that offers diversified habitats for birds and its unique geographical location, Kinmen County is renowned as an important habitat for birds with the highest bird species density throughout Taiwan. At present, almost three hundred different species of birds have been sighted and reported at Kinmen, many of which are rare or have never been sighted in Taiwan proper. Examples include resident birds such as the Hoopoe, Greater Coucal, Magpie-robin, Collared Crow, Blue-tailed Bee-eater (summer visitor) and Great Crested Grebe (winter visitor).


Magistrate Lee pointed out that it is a common sight at Kinmen to see different types of birds being around people and hear the songs of different species at all times. As you enjoy the caress of the gentle summer breeze on your face, you will be able to appreciate the bright colored plumes and nimble flying techniques of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters (dubbed as "the fairies of summer"). Alternatively, you can also brave the harsh seasonal winds to witness the magnificent view of the sky filled with countless Great Cormorant in flight.


The content of Bird Watching At Kinmen covers the introduction to Kinmen County's geographical location, an overview of bird species sighted at Kinmen, recommended spots for bird watching, reminders on rules of bird watching, tips on how to use the bird guide and a comprehensive catalogue of birds that can be seen in Kinmen and so forth. The images and texts were singly contributed by renowned filmmaker Liang Chieh-Te.


The guide stated that though Kinmen County is relatively small in size, the region boasts an incredibly long history that spanned over 1600 years due to early civilization development. Because of its unique geographical location, Kinmen has been a strategic spot that has witnessed countless combat for its control. And as such, the local environment has undergone a dramatic alteration due to numerous military activities. Kinmen was originally an island proliferated with greenery and wild growth. However, due to excessive cultivation by the pioneers and extensive destruction caused by bandits, Kinmen in the present day is plagued by fierce gusts of wind and sand along with large areas of barren land. As a result, local residents had to rely on the neighboring China for livelihood supplies. However, Kinmen County became the ROC government frontline of conflict with the communist PRC government when the relationship between the two governments turned hostile in 1949. In the eyes of people living on Taiwan proper, the area has been shrouded in a veil of mystery ever since.


Due to the demands for military operations, Kinmen has undergone extensive reforestation and greening along with excavations for ponds and reservoirs for the purpose of water retention all these years. In addition, coastline control was also enforced at Kinmen. Consequently, such development has created diversified ecological systems at Kinmen that offer an ideal habitat for birds to breed. Coupled with the fact that Kinmen County is located right at the center of east Asian islands, the area serves as the perfect rest spot for migratory birds bound north/south in different seasons. These factors result in significant influence of Kinmen's current environment and contributed to the ecological diversity and profound species of birds to be spotted at Kinmen County today. This explains why enthusiastic bird watchers can't help but return to Kinmen again and again.


And what about the distribution of bird species at Kinmen? According to Bird Watching At Kinmen, there are currently over 9,000 species of birds around the world today that have been categorized under 27 orders and 155 families. Due to the separation of the earth's terrain, different bird species are found in different areas across the world with varying distributions. Ornithologists have divided the territories of bird distribution around the world into seven ecozones: Palearctic, Nearctic, Indomalaya, Oceania, Afrotropic, Neotrapic and Antarctic. Kinmen falls under the ecozone of Indomalaya and bird species that distribute across Mainland China and the Himalayan mountain range can be sighted locally.


The guide proceeds by stating that in the world of birds, Kinmen is truly a unique place with extremely rich natural resources. Despite its small land area, the island features a comprehensive combination of ideal habitats for different species of birds. The surrounding waters of Kinmen County feature ecological environments such as the sea, coastline, muddy shores, lakes, marshes and fish ponds along with terrains including fields, hills, agricultural lands, forests and shrubs where wild birds can be sighted, even in places populated by people.


It is also revealed in the guide that according the data gathered nearly twenty years by Wild Bird Society of Kinmen, the accumulated number of bird species spotted in Kinmen has reached 305 (approximately 284 species in Xiamen and 550 species in Taiwan proper). Considering the size of Kinmen County and the number of bird species, bird distribution density in Kinmen is considerably high.


Resident bird species that remain in Kinmen throughout the year to breed have exceeded forty. Out of these species, the relatively special ones include the Black-winged Kite, Hoopoe, Pied Kingfisher, White-breast Kingfisher, Magpie-robin, Greater Coucal, Oystercatcher and so forth. These species are special because they are migratory birds that are rarely or simply not found in Taiwan proper but can be easily sighted in Kinmen. In addition, since Kinmen is located along the route of migratory birds in east Asia, many species of migratory birds that are found in colder regions in northern Asia often make their transit during falls/winters and springs in Kinmen while other species simply spend the winter in Kinmen.


Bird Watching At Kinmen also noted that out of all winter visitors, the Great Cormorant is the most well known species among bird watchers for their size, conspicuous black plumage and flock size. According to statistical data, the number of Great Cormorants that stay in Kinmen during winters has grown steadily over the years. The current record is close to 10,000 and the sight of flocks of Great Cormorant returning to their roost site in the evening makes a spectacular view. Other noteworthy winter visitors that can be sighted in Kinmen include the Falcated Duck, Black-capped Kingfisher, Black-faced Spoonbill, Great Crested Grebe, Wryneck and so forth. The season of winter is truly the best period for bird watching as the birds at Kinmen reach the apex in terms of both species and number.


The guide also reminds the reader that birds are indicative organisms that are crucial to the environment. Their diversity indicates the richness in resources that an environment has to offer. As far as the birds are concerned, Kinmen provides a safe habitat and a paradise where they can live freely. In fact, the birds that are sighted in Kinmen make a unique resource that belong exclusively to the area and function as a sustained resource for tourism. Kinmen is an island of wonder where man and birds can coexist in harmony and bird watching is one of the most relaxing and natural recreation activities one may engage in while in Kinmen.