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Migratory birds facing famine as water rises in central China lake
Updated: 2008-11-20 16:18

YUEYANG -- About 100,000 migratory birds that are wintering at China's second-largest freshwater lake, Dongting, face famine as the water keeps rising instead of dropping as it usually does during the winter.

The water level was about 28 meters on Thursday, up 6 meters so far this month, and many wetlands that provide food for birds have been flooded, said Gao Dali, an official of the Eastern Dongting Lake Nature Reserve Administration.

A worker at the Chenglingji hydrological station at the lake attributed the rising water level to unusual rainfall upstream.

Gao said birds could easily live at the lake if the water level was 24 meters to 25 meters. The current level of 28 meters was quite unusual for the lake.

Gao estimated there were more than 50,000 wild geese, more than 30,000 wild ducks and about 10,000 swans and cranes living at the lake.

Flocks of birds have been seen hovering and crying above the lake, and many birds have turned to nearby farms for food.

Since the beginning of the month, the administration has put out 100 tonnes of grain, but many of these birds usually eat weeds, fish and insects, instead of grain, experts said.