An epidemic journey, trying to find birds – 10,000 Birds

By Louis-Jean Germain

Influenced by his mom, Louis-Jean Germain has lengthy been desirous about artwork, and in recent times, he has grow to be an avid painter of Asian birds. Having earned each a Grasp’s Diploma in Engineering and in Regulation, Germain works as a supervisor for the development business. Germain has lived in East Asia since 2014.

“The place are my binos?”

I requested myself whereas I used to be within the taxi on my solution to the airport. For the Chinese language New 12 months 2022 holidays, my girlfriend and I made a decision to go to the distant areas of Guangxi within the South of China, on the border to Vietnam. The principle function was to calm down, get away from my irritating job, and in addition to hike within the stunning mountainous panorama of these wild areas. I was an avid birder, however over the past couple of years, due to different hobbies or life selections, I’ve been birding much less and fewer.

I ultimately felt comfy when I discovered my binoculars in my backpack; I all the time admire watching birds in any new space that I go to. A that cut-off date, I couldn’t think about the journey that I used to be going to expertise and the way birds would have rescued me.

On February 3, our aircraft landed in Nanning. We jumped into our rented SUV Jeep Compass for a visit of 6 days. We headed west to spend our first two nights within the Chongzuo space, in a deliciously comfy lodge, providing beautiful views of the panorama.

On February 5, we arrived at EQuanCun, a small touristic village, 4 km away from Jingxi metropolis within the county of Baise. The village was charming, busy however not overcrowded, with an effervescent river and loads of eating places serving goose stew, the native speciality.

On February 6, we went mountaineering within the WuLing forest park for the entire day, the place we stunned 5 males and a pair of females Silver Pheasants foraging beneath giant pine bushes. After we got here again to EQuanCun, within the night, the village was abandoned. Why did all vacationers disappear? Why have been all retailers and eating places closed? The proprietor of the lodge informed us {that a} COVID-19 case had been found that day a dozen of kilometres from there. At the moment, China was strictly making use of the zero COVID-19 coverage. Isolation was the fundamental precept. We have been anxious – what was going to occur to us?

On February 7, we escaped from EQuanCun within the early morning, getting round a number of police stops, till reaching the small metropolis of Hurunzhen on the border between Baise county and Chongzuo county. The highway was blocked by the police, making it inconceivable to proceed our solution to the airport. Throughout the night time, the federal government introduced that the county of Baise was utterly locked down, epidemically remoted, from the remainder of China. We checked right into a lodge out there in entrance of the police blockade. The police knocked on our door, requesting us to remain in that lodge till the Baise county turned unlocked. We had no data when the border would re-opened – maybe inside 2 days or maybe inside 5 weeks. We have been trapped like birds in a cage.

EQuanCun village (Photograph by Louis-Jean Germain)

Mountain round Hurunzhen (22.9975112,106.7289038) (Photograph by Louis-Jean Germain)

Location of Hurunzhen (purple dot) on the map of East China (north towards high) (from Baidu Map)

Fortuitously, our space was labeled as “opened”, we have been free to maneuver round (neither beneath quarantine nor confined to the lodge). With out hesitation, we began exploring the environment. To my shock, I noticed an Asian Barred Owlet on the identical afternoon, on {an electrical} wire scrutinizing a subject, and a Blue-Rumped Pitta, inside a dense forest monitor. I used to be astonished as these are magnificent and uncommon birds.

The following day, we went again to the identical place, and noticed a big and daring birds wave, led by Yellow-Cheeked Tit (2), and composed of male Scarlet Minivets (5), Rufous-capped Babbler, Gray-cheeked Nun Babbler and Gray-cheeker Leaf Warbler. Half an hour later, we stunned a flock of Crimson-whiskered Bulbuls, Black-crested Bulbuls and Blue-throated Barbets (2) resting on a naked tree. My coronary heart was palpitating whereas watching these oriental birds, this place was magical.

Day after day, I avidly continued exploring the environment of our lodge (inside a radius of 20 km). Birds turned my lifeline. Birds turned my solution to escape from the irritating feeling of being trapped and having no data after we could possibly be launched. Every new day turned the possibility to fulfill my avid enthusiasm to identify new birds. And, I used to be not hastened. The time was not operating towards me, because it normally does. The notion of time disappeared, I used to be residing with the cycle of the solar, day after day. I had the surprising and uncommon likelihood to take all time I wanted observing birds serenely.

I’ve developed a particular manner of appreciating birds: I draw and paint them. How do I draw birds? I all the time draw birds on the sector, whereas observing them, flying, singing, calling, foraging, preventing, socializing… I’m particularly concerning the movement and dynamic of birds. As soon as I spot a person, I stare at him for about 30 seconds, whereas it’s transferring, till all his shapes and gestures grow to be solely acquainted to my eyes. I can then, on a paper, utilizing an ink pen, draw the form of that particular person chicken that impregnated essentially the most by reminiscence (I used Hahnemuehle 140g/m2 pocket book and Mitsubishi uni-ball eye ub-150 pen). I proceed to identify that particular person for the contact ups, including the precise options of that chicken (eyebrow, eye rings, covers sample, crest, bristles…) and take subject notes concerning the colors. I then full my paintings again within the lodge utilizing watercolour (aquarelle Daler-Rowney). It’s a deep mental and creative train, which authentically captures my ardour and emotion whereas watching birds. I can absolutely relate to Francis Hallé, a well-known botanist and avid drawer of tropical vegetation, who describes the mandatory time to realize a drawing as a dialog between the plant and himself. (F. Hallé, ‘Atlas Poetic Botanic’, version MIT Press, 2018). I used to be conversing with the birds of Guangxi by my drawings.

Hen portray by Louis-Jean Germain (ink and watercolour on paper) (From left to proper, and high to backside: Yellow-cheeked Tit, Scarlet Minivet, Silver-eared Mesia, Rufous-capped Babbler)

Hen portray by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper) (From left to proper, and high to backside: Spectacled Barwing, Collared Finchbill, Fireplace-Breasted Flowerpecker, Silver-eared Mesia)

Hen portray on the left and panorama portray on the suitable aspect (oriented towards left) by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper) (From left to proper, and high to backside: Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Spectacled Barwing, Rufous-faced Warbler, Gray-cheeked Nun Babbler (David’s, Huet’s or Yunnan Fulvetta), Spectacled Barwing)

Hen portray by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper) (From left to proper, and high to backside: White-throated Fantail, Leaf Warbler (most likely Pallas’s), White-throated Fantail, Silvered-eared Mesia, Gray-cheeked Leaf Warbler, Widespread Tailorbird)

Hen portray by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper) (From left to proper, and high to backside: Black-throated Bushtit, Spectacle Barwing, White-browed Laughingthrush, Rufous-capped Babbler, Gray-cheeked Warbler)

I used to be actually additionally moved by the panorama of the mountains of Guangxi. This mountainous space, which types a part of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, is described as a karst panorama by Wikipedia (slim peaks fashioned by erosion of limestones). I sat for hours, dreamily watching these rocks elevating to the sky, lined by the dense major vegetation of this subtropical space. Every day, the panorama was completely different, the mountains appeared to alter types and colors, my impressions have been influenced by the daylight, the fog, clouds or rain. I sat for lengthy hours alongside the highway or on a mountain monitor, utilizing my paint brushes and ink to catch the deep emotion and essence of these mountains, like in a Shanshui portray.

Mountains round Chongzuo (22.6998898,106.9250517) – Panorama portray by Louis-Jean Germain (ink and watercolour on paper)

2 work of Mountains round Hurunzhen (high portray: 22.9686603,106.7155735; backside portray: 22.9947561,106.7339101) – Panorama work by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper)

Mountains round Hurunzhen (23.0259006,106.7553047) – Panorama portray by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper)

Mountains round Hurunzhen (22.9683439,106.6929363) – Panorama portray by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper)

The realm of Hurunzhen (Gangxi, China), the place we have been locked in, is inhabited by native folks, divided into quite a few small villages on the toes of those mountains. Most of them have been residing on non-mechanized farming, which is restricted to the few flat areas between the mountains. Solely hardly ever mountain flanks have been exploited as forestry plantations, most likely by entrepreneurs utilizing excavating machines to create tracks for vehicles within the mountains (actually not inexpensive for the native folks). Often, mountain flanks have been exploited for manganese ore mining; I famous a number of manganese processing vegetation situated round Hurunzhen. The native folks have been terrified of our presence, maybe stressed as a result of this lockdown appeared incomprehensible of their eyes, and in addition maybe afraid that we may resolve to make use of their land for forestry plantation or mining, which might compel them to expropriation and emigration to an unsure life. Nevertheless, as quickly as I used to be saying Kan Niao (“I watch chicken”) and exhibiting my work, a smile of happiness illuminated their faces. I used to be accepted within the mountains.

Mountains round Hurunzhen (Photograph by Louis-Jean Germain)

Mountains round Hurunzhen (Photograph by Louis-Jean Germain)

The dimensions of some chicken waves I noticed in Guangxi amazed me, reaching as much as 200 people or extra. Birds of various species collect in chicken waves to enhance foraging effectivity (the insect escaping one chicken will probably be caught by one other chicken of the wave) and improve safety towards predators. After I meet such an enormous wave, I cease utilizing binoculars and simply watch it with my naked eyes. A chicken wave is a firework of blending colors, a cacophony of songs and calls of overexcited birds. A chicken wave will be noticed discretely, at particular person chicken stage, or holistically, as a complete. A chicken wave is the manifestation of a posh entity, displaying concurrently order and dysfunction, consistently self-creating and self-disintegrating, recursively self-re-shaping. A chicken wave appeared to me as a single gigantic wild animal, inhabiting the mysterious mountains of Guangxi. I took a vivid pleasure to stroll alongside the highway following giant chicken waves. At first, the birds are suspicious of my presence, alerting and diverting their manner round me, however after some time, the reluctance pale, and I turned a part of the chicken wave.

On February 15, after having adopted a big chicken wave for an hour, my girlfriend jumped over to me and mentioned: “We’re free to go”. The authorities lastly determined to launch us (because of the numerous hours she spent on the telephone, and the assist of the French consulate). One hour later, we have been signing our quarantine launch certificates, and the policeman opened the gateway of the freeway permitting us to drive to Nanning, to fly again residence. Out of the blue, I felt unhappy to go away these stunning mountains, which henceforth I belonged to.

Submit Scriptum:

  1. Upon arrival in Qingdao, my residence, the authorities welcomed us by requesting a quarantine of seven days in a lodge and seven days at residence. This era provided me the time to write down this text.
  2. The details of the story have been barely simplified and organized for the sake of the article.

Hen checklist (not exhaustive) primarily based on IOC World Hen Names model 11.2:

Silver Pheasant

Better Coucal

Pheasant-tailed Jacana

Black-winged Kite

Asian Barred Owlet

Blue-throated Barbet

Blue-beared Bee-eater

Blue-rumped Pitta

Scarlet Minivet

White-throated fantail

Fireplace-breasted Flowerpecker

Black-throated Sunbird

Greyish-crowned Leafbird

Scaly-breasted Munia

Yellow-cheeked Tit

Cinerous Tit

Widespread Tailorbird

Gray-eyed Bulbul

Crimson-whiskered Bulbul

Black-crested Bulbul

Collared Finchbill

Black-throated Bushtit

Gray-cheeked Warbler

Leaf Warbler (most likely Pallas’s)

Rufous-faced Warbler

Spot-breasted Parrotbill

Rufous-capped Babbler

David’s, Huet’s or Yunnan Fulvetta (Gray-cheeked Nun Babbler)

White-browed Laughingthrush

Silver-eared Mesia

Spectacled Barwing

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