Several yellow-breasted buntings were spotted at a wetland of Chaohu Lake in east China's Anhui Province, the fifth largest freshwater lake in the country.
The rare birds were photographed by Hu Wenxiang, a photography enthusiast, when he visited the wetland on April 30.
"I've never seen this kind of bird before," said Hu, who later shared the photos in a WeChat group focused on bird research at Chaohu Lake.
Hu was surprised to learn that the birds were yellow-breasted buntings, a first-class protected species in China.
Hefei City, where the lake is located, has taken a number of measures to strengthen the protection of 10 major wetlands around Chaohu Lake in recent years, including banning human activities such as fishing, land reclamation and waste dumping in the protected zones.
More species of rare birds, such as billed dowitchers, Mongolian plovers, grey plovers and Siberian rubythroats, have been spotted at the lake as the environment improves, according to Yu Lei, vice president of the Anhui provincial rare bird protection workers union.