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Bird Watching in Foping

Foping Nature Reserve is located on the south slope in the middle range of Qinling Mountains. The headquarter of Foping Nature Reserve is at the south of Foping County Town, 158 km from Hanzhong City in the south and 215 km from Xi'an in the north.
 
Foping Nature Reserve was established in 1978 by the State Council for the purpose to protect giant panda and its habitat. The Nature Reserve covers 35000 ha. and is under the leadership of  the Ministry of Forestry. Foping Nature Reserve is next to Long-caoping Forest Farm on the east and adjacent to Changqing Nature Reserve,which will set up soon on the west, Zhouzhi Nature Reserve established for Golden Monkey and Laoxiancheng Nature Reserve on the north, and the Yueba Xiang of Foping County on the south.
 
The topography of Foping Nature Reserve is higher in northwest and lower in southeast. The mountain ranges lie from south to north, and their branch ranges are in the direction from east to west. The highest peak, Luban Peak in the Nature Reserve is an elevation of 2904m and the lowest spot is happened in Yueba with an elevation of 980m. Vestiges of the Quaternary glacier can be seen in the area of higher elevation. There are three water systems of Xihe, Donghe and Dachenghaohe in the Nature Reserve, all of them flow into Jinshuihe which is the tributary of Hanjiang River.
 
Foping Nature Reserve lies in the transitive area from subtropics to temperate zones. The climate is warm and moist under the influence of monsoon. The average temperature of year is about 13 degree with range of -2C to 27degree. Temperate difference during 24 hours is recorded about 12 degree.  Precipitation of a year is in the range of 950-1200mm, and most of rain are happened during July, August and September. The lack frost duration is lasted 180-220 days in a year.
 
The special location results in the luxuriant vegetation in the Nature Reserve. Flora of the Reserve is made of species occurred in regions of Centre China. North China, southwest China, and Qinghai-species happened in the region of Centre China make the major part of the flora.
 
One hundred and three genera with single species in the world view, 18 endemic genus to China, and species remained from the Tertiary period have been found in the Nature Reserve. There are 1580 species of plants which belong to 679 genera, 175 families. Among them there are 30 species of moss, 71 of fern, 20 of gymnosperm, and 1459 of angiosperm. Farges cane (Bashania fargesii) and umbrella bamboo (Fargesia spathacea) consist of the major food items for giant panda. The forest ecological system in the Nature Reserve is kept in perfect condition. The coverage of trees is over 90% and natural secondary forests make major parts of the forest system. Vegetation grows in a characteristic vertical zonation. Deciduous broad-leafed forest, mixed coniferous and deciduous broad-leafed forest, subalpine coniferous forest and alpine meadow and thicket are counted from the bottom of the mountains to the top.
 
Many rare and endangered species of plants are occured in the Nature Reserve. Twenty four species of plants have been listed as the endangered species, among them eleven species such as ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), newveitch spruce (Picea neoveitchii), chinese larch (Larix chinensis), oneflower kingdonia(Kingdonia uniflora) are listed in the second ranked category. Other 13 species, for example, chinling mountaince fir (Abies chensiensis) and miaotai maple(Acer miaotaiense) are involved in the third ranked category.
 
The location of Foping Nature Reserve is in the overlap range between Palaearctic Realm and Oriental Realm. Special location and various forest resource provide suitable habitat for wildlife. Up to today 265 vertebrate species have been identified and belong to 27 orders and 65 families. Among them there are 51 species of mammals, 184 of birds, and 30 of amphibian and reptile. Species included in the first ranked category are giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), takin (Budorcas taxicolor), golden monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellanae) and leopard (Panthera pardus), serow (Capricornis sumatraensis), reeves's pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii), golden pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) and giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) are exampled for 33 species in the second ranked category. Giant panda is the most important species to be protected in Foping Nature Reserve. Its population is stable during several field surveys. The density is as high as 0.4/km2 in the areas of Sanguanmiao and Xihe which are the core regions of the Nature Reserve. The density of panda in the Nature Reserve is in the first place over China. The fur colour of giant panda in the Reserve is very special, except the black- white one, brown-white and white ones have been seen several times in the field. One giant panda coloured with brown-white was saved from starvation in 1985 and named Dandan. This is the time for people to see the marvellous panda. Takin is also an important species, about 200 individuals are found in the Nature Reserve. The typical colour of takin is yellowish white. A few individuals with grey and blackish brown are found too.
 
Traces of ancient people have been located in the Reserve. The Tangluo Trail was very famous in the history of China, which passed the area of Huangtongliang in the Peserve. Cen Can, the famous poet of the Tang Dynasty described the dangerous steep of the Tangluo Trail: "The sky looks smaller by the high peaks around, the sun can be see when nap at noon. The moon is close to you during night, and cloud is around you in your travelling morning". During Qing Dynasty, there were ten thousand people to live here. You can still see the remains of houses, temple ditches and bridges of that time.
 
With beautiful scenery, the Nature Reserve is a very good place for tourists to visit. The Luban Peak are around by cloud, the glacial remains show in an incredible shape. An large waterfall goes down into a deep pool named Niangniangtan, and a hole nearby the Niangniangtan has a very beartiful name, Jade Lady. Rare and pretty species of mammals and birds will attract your attention when you walk in the forest. With so many beautiful things that you simply cannot take them all in, you may forget to come back if you visit Foping Nature Reserve.
 
For ten years' construction, Foping Nature Reserve has become an education site for tourists and local people. The exhibition room and specimens of animals and plants show the people rich fauna and flora of the Qinling Mountains. Guest house, restaurant, store and clinic are available for tourists. There are six camping sites located in Luban Peak and Three Immortals Peak, tourists can camp there. The accommodation of conservation stations within the Nature Reserve is quite good for tourists too.