Yangtze River Headwaters Volunteering Day 14 长江源志愿工作第14天

This is a series of journals recording my days in the Yangtze River Headwaters volunteering project. I will try to update every day but there might be delays in the days I work in the wild without the internet. I’m also trying to write bilingual if time allows. Like it? Follow my Instagram (@anar.chica.yichenguo) for updates!
这是我参与长江源志愿工作的一系列记录。我争取每日更新,但在野外工作没有网络的那些日子会有延迟。在时间允许的情况下,也会尽量使用中英双语。喜欢的话,关注我的Ins账号(@anar.chica.yichenguo)获取更新吧!

While patrolling the big island this morning, I saw a great crested grebe swimming quickly with some grass in its beak. It must be nesting. The new nests we found recently are all too far away for a detailed observation, therefore I decided to follow this one and see where it went. But unexpectedly, I saw something that’s unable to relieve. 

It swam to the lake bank, where another grebe is already sitting in the next. We exclaimed that the birds are finally learning to be smart, that they are forced to evolute to nest by the bank! This is much more durable than the ones on the surface! We were relieved to see them mating in the nest and saw two white eggs already in the nest when the female bird stood up. This is not a playground but a real home for them. However, the joy didn’t last long. When I was happily expecting to see a nest of grebe babies hatching, the top-of-food-chain black-necked cranes suddenly appeared in sight. It was strolling gracefully, slowly and confidently with its two extremely long legs, while our hearts are bouncing in our throats. This killer is very cold. 

It walked down the slope into the water towards the direction opposite to the grebes’ nest. We thought maybe it would leave them alone. But we are too young, too simple, sometimes naive. Recently almost all eggs on this island are hatched, so the cranes have not eaten fresh eggs for a long time. Of course this stone-hearted killer will not miss the feast right in front of its eyes. It turned around, walking to the nest in big steps. The female bird straightened its back, opened up its beak to cry out. However both the sizes and strengths are too different. While the killer was two meters away from the nest, it finally couldn’t bear the pressure and jumped into the water to escape. It’s a piece of cake for the crane’s long pointed beak to break the fragile egg shells and pick the unhatched baby birds inside them. It swallowed them in whole, without forgetting to suck up the remaining blood and egg fluid.

’What a shame!’ Anger spread in the observation station.

I believe what we witnessed is a process of natural selection. Nests built by the bank are easy to be attacked, which explains the evolution of floating nest. However, unorthodox is doomed to be punished. Nests built by the bank are not easy to stay, but built on the water are not easy to fight climate change. What would the grebe’s future be like?

The crane went back home satisfied after the feast, while the grebe couple lingers around the nest a few meters away for a long time. Although the crane’s ruthlessness was known for long, witnessing this scene with my own eyes still made me sad for a long time. I asked myself why. Not because of the crane since it is the law of nature. Is it because I lost an opportunity for good shots? Maybe a little (but from the videoing point of view, this scene is amazing as well). Is it because climate change has brought catastrophic influences? Of course. But for the most part it is natural causes. Humans are accelerating this process and amplifying its effects, but the trend is doomed. Or maybe it is more because of the fear of death – to see life disappear so easily, while the ones who still have their fragile lives don’t cherish it but instead live their lives as walking dead, and by the way destroy those of other people or other species


早上巡视大岛,见附近湖面上一只凤头鸊鷉衔着草快速游动,一定是在筑巢了。这几天新发现的窝都距离太远无法观察,我决定跟着这一只,看看它要去哪里。谁知这一来却让我见到了无法释怀的一幕。

它游到了岸边,另一只凤头鸊鷉已在岸边的窝里趴着了。我们惊呼这鸟总算是学聪明了,被逼得进化了,居然在岸边筑巢!这可比在水面上结实多了!等待了一会儿,见到它们在巢里交配,又在雌鸟起身时看到巢里已然有两枚白白的蛋,便放了心——这不是临时“嬉戏”的场所,而是他们真正的家。可惜好景不长,就在我满心欢喜地期待看到一窝䴙䴘宝宝破壳时,岛上食物链顶端的黑颈鹤闯入了镜头。它迈着两条逆天大长腿,优雅地,慢慢地,自信地走过来,而我们的心都悬到了嗓子眼。这个杀手非常冷。

它静静地走下斜坡,走进水里。向着远离巢穴的方向走着,我们心想或许它不打算袭击它们。可我们太年轻太单纯,有时还太天真。这段时间岛上的鸟蛋几乎都已经孵化出来了,黑颈鹤已经很久没有吃到新鲜的蛋,摆在面前的机会,这冷酷的杀手当然不会放过。只见它掉转身,开始大步地走向巢穴。巢里的雌鸟挺起了身,张开嘴紧张地叫着。无奈个头实力都想去甚远,杀手距离两米左右时,它终于顶不住压力跳下水逃离。黑颈鹤尖尖长长的喙轻而易举地就破坏了脆弱的蛋壳,夹出未孵化的幼鸟,一口吞下,还不忘吸干剩下的血液与蛋汁。

“这个臭不要脸的!”观测站里异口同声。

我想我们是目击了一次自然选择的过程。筑巢在岸边便容易被袭击,这也是它们长久以来进化出浮巢的原因。而离经叛道,便终将受到惩罚。筑巢岸边的基因不易留下,而筑巢水上又抗不过气候变化。凤头鸊鷉的未来将何去何从?

黑颈鹤饱餐一顿后满足地回了家。而䴙䴘夫妇则在距离宝宝已死的巢穴几米远的地方徘徊,久久不愿离开。虽早知黑颈鹤的残忍,但亲眼看到这样的场景还是让我心酸了好久。我自问为何?不是因为黑颈鹤,因为那是自然法则。是因为失去了一个很好的拍摄机会吗?也许有点吧(但从拍摄的角度来说,这一段也是极为精彩的)。是因为气候变化对野生动物的灾难性影响?当然,但这大部分也是自然的原因。人类加速了其恶化,扩大了影响力,可总的趋势是既成事实。或许更多的是直面死亡的恐惧——看到生命如此轻易地消失,而拥有着脆弱的生命的人们却这样不懂得珍惜,把自己的生活过成活死尸,还顺手破坏了别人的、别的物种的

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