Xiaman National Natural Reserve
The best transport chosen to Xiaman is SUV for the roads there are muddy and in poor condition. The fact that Xiaman is a national natural reserve remains unknown to most people. There exists numerous fouls like golden eagles, pallas’s fish eagles, black-necked cranes, mandarin ducks, bar-headed geese and swans, a plenty of aquatic fauna as well as some reptiles, ten of which are first-class national protected animal.
When we visited Xiaman, the vehicle provided was Mitsubishi SUV and our driver was a local man. He told us that the most common animal there was marmot, a terrestrial herbivorous rodent belonging to second-class national protected animal.
When we went outdoors to shoot some pictures, two brown marmots came into our sight suddenly on a mound twenty meters away. And when we looked more carefully, we found the other two were playing with them leisurely. We fixed our camera with 300mm and 400mm telephoto lens to shoot them. They seemed very natural to our lens like well-prepared models waiting for us to shoot their best positions. They sometimes looked up, sometimes kissed each other and sometimes thump down, bringing lots of fun to us.
Then we arrived at Cuoergan Lake in the northern part of Xiaman, which added different colors and vigor to the green grassland and provided an earth heaven for frolicsome animals. We were totally enchanted by its peaceful and graceful scenery and its harmoniously living animals.
We got off the car and walked through leg-high weeds towards the lake. The calls of all kinds of birds formed a melodious song; gulls were foraging near; mandarin birds were dating on the water; black-necked cranes were dancing across the lake; mountains afar stood as a classic beauty; waters in the lake calmed as a clear glass; and the aroma in the breeze made us lost in the enjoyment.
The lake is also a scenic spot in Xiaman National Natural Reserve, which is rich in lakes and swamps, water and plants with the area of 1665.7 km². It also boasts a great number of wild animals with 24 kinds of beasts and 8 kinds of birds like white-tailed eagles, pallas’s fish eagles, golden eagles, white storks and black storks.
These birds had no fear of human beings for there was no hunting. When they noticed our coming, they used their own way to welcome us: some were flying around the lake and then landed on the water, presenting their vigorous posture in lines; others were finding foods near the swamp with graceful paces and occasionally looked up to greet us.
At the moment, two Tibetan guys walked towards us. We were afraid that they may disturb the animals, but they just slowed down and silenced their steps. When they saw our cameras, they kind-heartedly hailed us and called us journalists for they thought only journalists would carry a camera and had no idea of shooting-fancier like us.
Mr. Se’errang from the Zoige Bureau of Nationalities and Religions told us the legend about Cuoergan Lake that showed a very strong ecological awareness. It is said that there lives a beautiful fairy. A hundred years ago, she leaved for another lake to date with her lover and the water began to dry. When she came back, rain poured down like falls, filling up the lake. At that day, all birds were singing songs to celebrate the revived lake and all local people cheered up for their home went back to its original look, the crystal-clear lake embracing with blue sky, white clouds and green grassland.
After that, we started our journey to the next stop. On the way forward, our heart still lingered over the lake. The car continued to climb up the bumpy and winding road towards a new beautiful scenic site. We drove alone without seeing any car in the endless grassland, only with some lovey marmots running by as if we were placed in a kingdom of marmots. Gradually, we found the peace of mind instead of in a furious excitement and we turned our sight to the plants, finding that the grassland was also a sea of flowers with all kinds of booming to weave a large flower blanket where we could be soundly asleep and flirt with dreams.
We arrived at Black Lake Bridge at twilight. The Black Lake was shining in the last rays of the setting sun, winding and zigzagging to the east, bringing us a poetic association with the magnificent scene described in a Chinese famous line “Proud eagles flies high in the sky, with rosy clouds floating aside”. Black Lake in Tibetan means Moqu, for it runs through swamps with poor quality of water full of sand and humic substances so that the unprocessed water in the lake can not be used as drinking water. The lake originates from Galiping (Ya’aokou) of Zhebodongya Mountain in the Hongyuan County, to the south of Zoige County and flows through the center of Zoige area and finally flows into the estuary the Yellow River in the northwest of Zoige. It is such a small stream running through the grassland that covers more than 5000 km² and become the first-class branch of the Yellow River.
There is a farmland at Nenwa area named the Black Lake Farmland, one of the five largest farmlands in Zoige as it is alongside the Black Lake. It is also a settlement for wild animals with fascinating scenery and melodious animal songs, but it remains unknown to most people. In Zoige, there are many places like that, waiting for us to disclose their beauty. We are on the way of discovery.
Chengdu Chadianzi Bus station－Zoige Passenger Center (2 shift per day; the departure time: 06:40, 07:20; bus fare: 171 yuan per person)
Zoige Passenger Center－Xiaman County (1shift per day; the departure time: 14:30; bus fare: 27 yuan per person)
About 15h hours from Chengdu