14 foreigners feed gulls and capture the beauty of Kunming’s winter

On the morning of December 1, the activity Meeting Kunming’s Old Friends -- Black-headed Gulls, which is under the framework of Unveiling Yunnan was held at Kunming’s Cuihu Park. 14 foreigners from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar gathered together to capture the beauty of Kunming and to value the friendship between people and black-headed gulls.

This activity was organized by Kunming Network Culture Association and Kunming Information Hub, and was co-organized by Kunming Photographers Association. Three professional photographers were invited to communicate shooting skills with foreigners and to take pictures of Kunming’s winter.


Photo shows Wang Jianzhong teaches Rasel photography. [Kunming Photographers Association/ Wei Jiaping]

Experience the joy of feeding black-headed gulls

Warm sunshine in Kunming’s winter attracts thousands of black-headed gulls each year. Cuihu Park is one of their “wonderland”. Many Kunming people bring bread and gull food and come to Cuihu Park to feed these cute birds as usual.

“Kunming people do love these birds. They were feeding them while we were taking pictures. It was a good experience.” Nazer, who is from Pakistan, held a piece of bread and waited patiently for the gulls coming.


Photo shows a gull is eating the food in the hand of a visitor. [Photo by Azeem]

Since the winter of 1985, flocks of gulls have been flying from Siberia to Kunming for wintering for over 30 years. Watching gulls and feeding them have been daily routines for people lived in Kunming. Waqar from Pakistan observed that the local shout a particular word to attract gulls, and he learned to do the same. 

Sonia, a young girl from Myanmar, said with a smile after failing to feed gulls for many times, “there were so many visitors feeding gulls this weekend that the gulls were already full.” She never saw black-headed gulls before she came to Kunming, and she was fond of throwing bread to feed these birds. 

“There are also black-headed gulls in my country, Bangladesh,” said Zunaeed, whose country also attracts gulls to migrate in the winter. “These gulls fly thousands of miles to find a safe and peaceful shelter for wintering. We need to protect them instead of hurting them.”

Art goes beyond boundaries

While some were feeding, the others were capturing every movement of gulls. Wang Jianzhong, Yang Jinhai and Wei Jiaping, who are the members of Kunming Photographers Association, led a team separately and became a temporary teacher to help foreigners with taking nice photos. 

Yang Jinhai believed that foreigners can experience feeding and photographing gulls by themselves, which was very helpful for them to understand the history and culture of Kunming, as the gulls were actually a manifestation revealing the harmony between Kunming people and the nature. 

Yang has been focusing on the development of Cuihu park for over 10 years. In his point of view, Cuihu park is a place not only with stunning scenery, but also profound culture. Therefore, what foreigners come to see is not only the scenery, but also Kunming’s connotation and history.


Photo shows tourists boat in Cuihu lake, surrounded by flying gulls. [Photo by Rasel]

At first, foreigners didn’t know how to take photos of gulls in motion. They would ask their teacher to give some advise when they pressed the shutter. Wei Jiaping led her three students from Bangladesh to walk around Cuihu park. She taught them how to compose, and how to adjust the light sensitivity. Although they didn’t speak the same language, the camera became a way for them to communicate with each other. “Art goes beyond boundaries,” said Wei Jiaping.

Wang Jianzhong’s students were from Myanmar and Bangladesh. “Some of them took photos of the gulls for the first time and did a good job.” He was full of praise for his students. He thought that this was not only an activity to shoot gulls, but also an opportunity to communicate Chinese culture to foreign friends. 


Photo shows a gull soars in the sky. [Photo by Jafran]

Thumb up for Kunming’s environment and look forward more activities

“I could take more photos if the time allowed, but the activity was only two hours.” A Bangladeshi guy Rasel said. He is a student of Yunnan University, and usually goes for a walk at Cuihu Park after dinner. He said, “Kunming is a good place to live, even black-headed gulls are attracted.”


Photo shows 2 gulls on the lake. [Photo by Mahim]

When these foreigners heard that the black-headed gulls would fly to Kunming every winter, they believed that it these birds love Kunming’s warm weather just like them. 

“Kunming has no air pollution, and Kunming people do care these cute birds. I think Kunming is one of the best cities.” The Burmese girl Sonia said in a delighted tone. 


14 Foreigners pose for a group photo. [Kunming Photographers Association/ Wei Jiaping]

After two-hour activity, these 14 foreigners fed black-headed gulls, learned how to take photos, and also appreciated the beauty of Kunming’s winter. The three photographers also said that inviting foreigners to take pictures of gulls was an innovative way to draw the hearts and minds of different countries closer, which provided people from abroad with a chance to get known about China and to fall in love with Chinese culture.

The Burmese girl Ella has begun to look forward to the next activity of Unveiling Yunnan. She explained, “studying in China is to experience more Chinese culture. I wish I could experience traditional Chinese handicrafts next time.”

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(Editors: Christine, Rachel)

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