Zhalong National Nature Reserve (扎龙自然保护区) is in Heilongjiang province.
26 km from Qiqihar is an excellent bird-watching center with 269 kinds of birds. It is also known as the "Land of the Cranes" because it is the natural habitat for 6 of the world's 15 breeds of cranes.
Flora and fauna
Highlights in the nature reserve are storks, swans, geese, ducks, herons, grebes, egrets and the rare red-crowned crane.
Zhalong Nature Reserve is easy to access from Qiqihaer. Buses leave from the corner of Longsha Lu and Zhanqian Dajie, about one block north from the train station. Look for "扎龙" on the bus signs. If there are no buses there, you can take a 3-wheeled motorcyle taxi (tuk-tuk) or normal taxi about five or ten minutes to Da4gang3zi (大岗子) and find a bus there. Buses usually wait in the parking lot on the right hand side of the road near the gas station. A round-trip ticket should cost ¥20, and the trip out takes about 40 minutes. In August 2010 the bus route number was 306.
Fees and permits
¥50 entrance fee. You can also pay for boat rides around the lake or golf cart rides around the park.
Many different kinds of birds live in this beautiful marsh and grassland, including about 400 of the world's 2000 red-crowned cranes. The crane viewing area is a short walk from the entrance. The cranes are kept in enclosures there, but are released to fly free and eat food four times a day. As of August 2010, the cranes were released at 10:10, 11:10, 14:30, and 15:30 but times may change.
Don't let the fact that the birds are kept in pens dissuade you. As you walk out to the crane viewing area, you can spot ducks, terns, herons, geese, and many other birds. It's not like a zoo or an aviary, and when you see the cranes fly over your head it's amazing.
Mosquito repellent is a must!