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War and Peace--- Kinmen’s Cih Lake Triangle Fort and Phalacrocorax carbo

Written by: Siou-jhu Chen, Interpretation and Education Section of KNP
Photos provided by: KNP

In many people’s minds, Kinmen National Park is a war-torn place rich in culture and history. Besides war ruins and settlements , Kinmen is also home to a variety of species. Cih Lake Triangle Fort is located inside KNP, where war  relics  can be found everywhere. Being close to the sea also makes KNP a place rich in natural resources and ecology.

Wushatou Turning into Birds’ HeavenWar and Peace--- Kinmen’s Cih Lake Triangle Fort and Phalacrocorax carbo

The area from the Triangle Fort to the southern part of Guningtou was known as “Wushatou,” where the naval battle between the Ming government and the coalition forces of the Ching government and Holland took place in 1633. In the stand-off era between Taiwan and China, Amoy is right across from the Triangle Fort which does not only monitor the activities of the Chinese military but also controls the west coast of Kinmen, making it an important ground for controlling the Jinlie Waterway in this area. The defense constructions in this area do not only manifest Kinmen’s history but has also unexpectedly created a haven for birds.

The Triangle Fort is located at the west side of Cih Lake, and trenches were dug around the fort. Landmines were placed in the nearby, fenced beaches to keep the enemy at bay. The camouflaged Triangle fort is made from concrete and has living quarters. The three towers were for sentries and shooters, and a stair leads to the top where sentry posts used to be. As the cross-strait situation changes, this place is now a cultural site for peace and bird conservation.

Located at the northwest coast of Kinmen, Cih Lake was originally a bay rich with wild life and allowed cargo ships to cruise directly the Guningtou area. Due to military and civilian demands, a 550m long Cih Lake dyke was completed by the national forces in 1970. The dyke forms a semi-salt lake that joins the sea, and the unique geographical conditions result in abundant fish, shrimp, and shell-fish supplies. The military and other restrictions enforced in during the cross-strait stand-off unexpected conserved the local natural ecological environment and turned Cih Lake a haven for birds. 

Tidal Changes Providing Food for BirdsWar and Peace--- Kinmen’s Cih Lake Triangle Fort and Phalacrocorax carbo

Cih Causeway outer-sea is a mixture of mud and sand, and water channels that join with Cih Lake emerge during flood and ebb tides. The broad intertidal zone provides rich food supplies and habitats for life forms, and years of military coast line control have minimized human interferences and attracted water birds such as snipes, egrets, gulls, and Phalacrocorax carbo(cormorants). This area has the largest and most diverse bird gatherings in Kinmen area as many water birds live, feed, and rest here. After flood tide, many water birds would fly to Cih Lake to rest and wait for ebb tide, forming an exciting scene of ecology in Kinmen.

Cormorants are common winter birds in Kinmen area that enjoy group roosting and activities. From October to March, massive gatherings of cormorrants can be seen around Cih Lake. The beefwood forest by Cih Lake is the main nighttime habitat for them, and tens of thousands of which can be seen here to spend the winter.

Cormorants use their thin, hook-shaped beaks to catch fish by diving several meters into water from 30 to 40 seconds. After feeding, they would float on water or stop on shores or trees to spread and dry their feathers. Often flying in a vertical or V-shaped formation, they tend to fly close to the water surface or at high altitudes when above dry lands.

Natural and Ecological Conservation

Cih Lake Triangle Fort is an example of giving abandoned military installments a new life, and this place has unexpectedly become a habitant for a large number of winter birds, especially cormorants, which blends in with the sea, the sky, and the sunset, making the place a dazzling painting. Information on these birds is available here to educate the public.

In the afternoon of Jan. 19th, 2008, the tour guide facility for Cih Lake Triangle Fort was officially opened. The opening ceremony was held by Director General Chin-rong Lin of CPA, Ministry of the Interior  When visiting the Fort with docents and the public, Lin stated that Kinmen has the potential to become a world-class tourist island, but it requires more governmental planning. Just when he finished his words, a group of cormorants flew gracefully from the west and entered Cih Lake’s Cormorant Forest in the east, causing the crowd to exclaim in surprise. Shortly afterwards, even more groups showed up, filling the sky with a magnificent wave of this beautiful creature.

The Fort is not just a place for tourists but a war memorial that reminds people “peace” is our common goal. Come to Cih Lake and visit the Fort, and you would not just be able to experience Kinmen but also the delight of interacting with nature.

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