The mangrove forest’s hidden “Bird Island”

By Nicki Johnson / HICN / Updated: 17:23,30-August-2021

With a long, narrow beak, pure white feathers, and a stylish black “cloak” draped over her back, the “supermodel” of the bird world gracefully struts back and forth through the water on her elegant, long red legs. In the fifth episode of Discovering Mysteries Season 2, you’ll not only get a glimpse of the fashionable Black-Winged Stilt, but also get to see Herons, Marsh Sandpipers, Spotted Redshanks, and more of the many birds who inhabit the mangrove forests of Dongzhai Harbor, as well as the places they forage for food. There is quite a bit of spectacular scenery in this episode!                 

Screenshot from Bird Island, Discovering Mysteries Season 2 Episode 5. DISCOVERING MYSTERIES

Many streams of water converge in tropical Hainan’s Dongzhai Harbor, creating the perfect ecological conditions for the growth of a lush mangrove forest. The mangrove forest resembles islands of green surrounded by winding streams of water. With the rising and falling of the tides, seawater flows in and out, keeping the local food chain intact.

Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Forest Nature Reserve. DISCOVERING MYSTERIES

At high tide, the trunks of the mangrove trees are submerged in seawater, leaving only the bright green leafy treetops visible above the rippling waters.  This is also the moment when large numbers of birds are spreading their wings and chirping out the bright, clear notes of their songs, creating a scene of incredible natural beauty.

A flock of birds on the wing. DISCOVERING MYSTERIES

When the tide goes out, the thick, knobby mangrove roots are exposed allowing them to absorb enough oxygen to survive the next high tide. Mangroves grow in seawater. Their unique structure allows them to absorb saltwater at high tide. They have specialized salt-excreting glands in their leaves which discharge the salty water onto the surface of the leaf. The strong sunlight then crystallizes the salt.

Screenshot from Bird Island, Discovering Mysteries Season 2 Episode 5. DISCOVERING MYSTERIES

Screenshot from Bird Island, Discovering Mysteries Season 2 Episode 5. DISCOVERING MYSTERIES

The birds that live here have many skills that allow them to survive. During high tide, the herons perching in the treetops have perfected the art of catching fish in the water.


There is an abundance of food in the shallows, attracting a large number of birds.


The water level is high, submerging the legs of the Marsh Sandpiper. The Spotted Redshank has to stick his head under the water to find food. Black-winged Stilts appear on the scene, their slender, long red legs giving them their name. Their smoky black faces match their dark wings, giving them a fashionable look. Their height gives them a clear advantage.



Spotted Redshanks must dip their heads under the water to find food. DISCOVERING MYSTERIES

Black-winged Stilts move about in large groups, carpeting the surface of the water. Finding food, they dip their heads under the water to forage. At the slightest hint of trouble, the alert leader of the flock takes to the air, with the rest leaping gracefully into the sky in pursuit.


As night falls, thousands of birds spiral in an aerial dance. These are Starlings heading home for the night. At dawn, they go out to forage and at dusk, they return to the nest. They sweep across the sky, creating a spectacular sight.

Starlings heading home for the night. DISCOVERING MYSTERIES

The Little Egrets are the last to return, bedding down for the night in the tops of the mangrove trees.

Discovering Mysteries Season 2 started being broadcasted worldwide on August 2. The first part of Discovering Mysteries Season 2 focuses on the wetlands and the mangrove forest. Season 2 will have a total of 24 episodes, each running around 4 minutes. This season explores the mangrove forest, the wetlands, Baihualing, and the rainforests of Wuzhishan, as well as Jiaxi and the Exianling nature reserve.

This is Hainan: Discovering Mysteries is a short documentary series that shines a light on Hainan’s ecological and cultural geography. It reveals Hainan’s natural environment, focusing on nature, ecological protection, and scientific research, giving viewers a look inside the natural ecology of the Hainan Free Trade Port, the many plant and animal species native to the island, and the achievements of the national ecological culture pilot zone.

Open the New Hainan App, Hinews, or Nanguo Metropolis Daily, or the Hainan International Communication Network ( to watch the fifth episode, Bird Island!

Click the links to see more episodes of Discovering Mysteries:

Discovering Mysteries Season 2 Collection

Discovering Mysteries Season 1 Collection 

Producers: Guo Zhimin, Wu Bin, Han Chaoguang

Production Supervisor: Luo Jianli

Executive Supervisors: Hu Xufa, Lin Ying , Yu Weihui, Ao Kun

Filmmaker / Director: Li Xiaogang

Writers: Mi Hongxu, Li Xiaogang

Videography: Xu Wei, Liu Sunmou, Mi Hongshu, Zheng Ziyu, Li Xiaogang

Editors: Li Xiaogang, Xu Wei

Special Videography: Feng Erhui, Chen Zhengping, Luo Lixiang, Lü Shiyang

Narrator: Liu Yang

Print Media Design: Gong Yuming

Translator:Nicki Johnson

Jointly Produced by: The Hainan Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park Management Office and the Hainan Wild Plant & Animal Protection Management Office

With special thanks to: Hainan Pingtouge Culture Media Co. Ltd.

Jointly Produced by: New Hainan APP, Hainan International Media Center and Hinews

A production of: Nanguo Metropolis Daily



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