Baofeng Lake is located 1.5 kilometers away from the south of the Wulingyuan District Government of Zhangjiajie City, and covers an area of 2.74 square kilometers. It is about 350 kilometers (5 hours drive) away from Changsha.
In January 2010, the competition activity for selecting China's Top Ten Attractive Lakes for Leisure Tourism was co-hosted by Chunqiu National Travel Agency and In the selection Baofeng Lake of Zhangjiajie entered into the list for boasting the most extraordinary flavors.
Mandarin teal, a compound word, is referred to by the Chinese as "Yuan-yang". Yuan refers to male mandarin ducks with splendorous feathers, while yang means female ones. They are migrants and adept at walking and swimming, and capable of flying. Chinese people initiated the breeding of mandarin ducks since over 2000 years ago, and it has been considered as the symbol for life-long partner. They live through the winter in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Recent surveys show that mandarin ducks are not faithful to only one spouse in their lives, especially the "romantic" male birds, which are nicknamed as "a love-rat" in some scientific readings.
Tong Qianming: professor of Hunan Provincial Institute of Geology and expert who is granted special government allowance.
About 200 million years ago (Indo-Chinese epoch), a formation fracture took place in this area, which caused a fracture zone locating along the Shijiayu Valley. The terrane on both sides of the valley got steeper under the influence of the faultage, and formed a landform without towering stone pillars.
The villagers in this area started moving out of the Shijiayu valley in 1970s. Then the valley was dammed up at the thread of the sky for the purpose of farmland irrigation and power generation, making itself a lake on the mountains. As Baofeng Mountain is located in this area, the lake was then named "Baofeng Lake". Only until 1983, with the burgeoning tourism in Zhangjiajie, had Baofeng Lake been exploited as a tourist attraction. Although it has been 40 years since its completion, you can hardly notice any vestiges of man-made constructions in the lake area and tourists who visited here all reckon it as a naturally formed lake.
Baofeng Lake: There is neither a stone pillar nor peak forest, while the mandarin ducks are flittering on the arm of the tranquil Baofeng Lake. Writer/Photographer Ma Jinhui
The artificial Baofeng Lake, with a depth of 72 meters, was converged by mountain streams running down from Shijiayu Valley.
In non-breeding seasons, the mandarin ducks swim in small groups. The 24 ones shown in this picture almost count half of all the overwintering mandarin ducks at Baofeng Lake.
They are just staying on the arms of the lake on both sides of the "Welcoming Stone Gate".
It was still a foggy and rainy day, but not chill.
This morning, giving up the sightseeing boat, Li Ying steered the garbage boat to pull into the lake. After passing the "Welcoming Stone Gate" (the narrowest point on the lake with a width of about 15 meters), the lake surface became wider. When steering around the shrub-covered rock corners, Li just turned off the motor and let the boat sailed under the drive of inertia while forwarding to the blurred shore of the lake.
All around us is silence. After fixing the camera, we felt mysterious and also a bit nervous. The boat drifted toward the shore, 100 meters, 80 meters, 50 meters, suddenly the boat swayed. Li pointed at a dark spot in front of the prow and gave me a sign with her eyes: "those are the mandarin ducks you are casting about for".
This is a mandarin teal tribe comprised of more than ten members. The flock was drawing close to the male mandarin teal and floating away in the same direction with the boat. "Only small boats can get closer, they would flitter away if vessels came near." Li has worked in Baofeng Lake Scenic Area for 19 years, her heart is tied up with those creatures, "they are smart, and know people in small boats will not hurt them".
The boat kept on floating on the lake as the mist began to diffuse. Outside the arm of the lake, sightseeing boats passed from time to time. Some tourist stood on the prow, but few of them noticed the precious ducks among the vessels and boats.
Kindness creates intimacy. On January 21, the staff Yang Qing transported 130 kilos of grains from the foot of the mountain. This was the second time that he prepared food for the ducks this winter. Every day after cleaning up fallen leaves and deadwoods from the lake, he would leave over 2 kilos of grains for them, and at night he can always hear their calls.
In Yang's eyes, mandarin ducks are as mysterious as other wild animals. But one thing is for sure that they come back to Baofeng Lake at the end of every October.
Translated by Liu Jia; English script edited by Zhang Chang; Chinese script edited by Qiu Xian; Designed by Su Zhan