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An epidemic journey, looking for birds – 10,000 Birds


    By Louis-Jean Germain

    Influenced by his mom, Louis-Jean Germain has lengthy been involved in artwork, and in recent times, he has turn out to be an avid painter of Asian birds. Having earned each a Grasp’s Diploma in Engineering and in Legislation, 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 primary objective was to chill out, get away from my annoying job, and in addition to hike within the lovely 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 finally felt comfortable when I discovered my binoculars in my backpack; I at all times respect 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 airplane 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 gorgeous 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 climbing within the WuLing forest park for the entire day, the place we stunned 5 males and a couple of females Silver Pheasants foraging below massive pine bushes. Once we got here again to EQuanCun, within the night, the village was abandoned. Why did all vacationers disappear? Why have been all outlets 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 essential 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 just a few 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 unattainable to proceed our solution to the airport. Throughout the evening, 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 obtainable in entrance of the police blockade. The police knocked on our door, requesting us to remain in that lodge till the Baise county grew to become unlocked. We had no info 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 (crimson dot) on the map of East China (north towards prime) (from Baidu Map)

    Fortuitously, our space was categorized as “opened”, we have been free to maneuver round (neither below 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 subsequent 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 Purple-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 grew to become my lifeline. Birds grew to become my solution to escape from the annoying feeling of being trapped and having no info once we could possibly be launched. Every new day grew to become the prospect to fulfill my avid enthusiasm to identify new birds. And, I used to be not hastened. The time was not working in opposition to me, because it often does. The notion of time disappeared, I used to be dwelling with the cycle of the solar, day after day. I had the sudden and uncommon likelihood to take all time I wanted observing birds serenely.

    I’ve developed a particular method of appreciating birds: I draw and paint them. How do I draw birds? I at all times draw birds on the sector, whereas observing them, flying, singing, calling, foraging, preventing, socializing… I’m particularly in regards to 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 turn out to be totally acquainted to my eyes. I can then, on a paper, utilizing an ink pen, draw the form of that particular person hen 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 hen (eyebrow, eye rings, covers sample, crest, bristles…) and take subject notes in regards to the colors. I then full my art work 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 totally relate to Francis Hallé, a well-known botanist and avid drawer of tropical crops, who describes the mandatory time to attain 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 means of my drawings.

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

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

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

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

    Fowl portray by Louis-Jean Germain (extract from pocket book, ink and watercolour on paper) (From left to proper, and prime 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 (slender peaks fashioned by erosion of limestones). I sat for hours, dreamily watching these rocks elevating to the sky, coated by the dense major vegetation of this subtropical space. Every day, the panorama was completely different, the mountains appeared to vary types and hues, 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 (prime 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 world of Hurunzhen (Gangxi, China), the place we have been locked in, is inhabited by native individuals, divided into quite a few small villages on the toes of those mountains. Most of them have been dwelling on non-mechanized farming, which is proscribed 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 reasonably priced for the native individuals). Sometimes, mountain flanks have been exploited for manganese ore mining; I famous a number of manganese processing crops situated round Hurunzhen. The native individuals 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 might resolve to make use of their land for forestry plantation or mining, which might compel them to expropriation and emigration to an unsure life. Nonetheless, as quickly as I used to be saying Kan Niao (“I watch hen”) 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 scale of some hen waves I noticed in Guangxi amazed me, reaching as much as 200 people or extra. Birds of various species collect in hen waves to enhance foraging effectivity (the insect escaping one hen will most probably be caught by one other hen of the wave) and enhance safety in opposition to predators. Once I meet such a giant wave, I cease utilizing binoculars and simply watch it with my naked eyes. A hen wave is a firework of blending colors, a cacophony of songs and calls of overexcited birds. A hen wave could be noticed discretely, at particular person hen degree, or holistically, as an entire. A hen wave is the manifestation of a posh entity, displaying concurrently order and dysfunction, consistently self-creating and self-disintegrating, recursively self-re-shaping. A hen 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 massive hen waves. At first, the birds are suspicious of my presence, alerting and diverting their method round me, however after some time, the reluctance pale, and I grew to become a part of the hen wave.

    On February 15, after having adopted a big hen wave for an hour, my girlfriend jumped over to me and stated: “We’re free to go”. The authorities lastly determined to launch us (because of the various hours she spent on the telephone, and the help 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. Abruptly, I felt unhappy to go away these lovely mountains, which henceforth I belonged to.

    Put up 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 supplied me the time to put in writing this text.
    2. The information of the story have been barely simplified and organized for the sake of the article.

    Fowl listing (not exhaustive) primarily based on IOC World Fowl 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

    Hearth-breasted Flowerpecker

    Black-throated Sunbird

    Greyish-crowned Leafbird

    Scaly-breasted Munia

    Yellow-cheeked Tit

    Cinerous Tit

    Frequent Tailorbird

    Gray-eyed Bulbul

    Purple-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