Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

Bird news from Vietnam, from Vietnam's resident and visiting birders.

23 April 2014

Silver Oriole in Hanoi

At the morning of April 20th, I went once more to the small forest patch at Bai Da at the Red River to look for migrants.

Around the northern end of the little forest, I noticed a bird that perched openly with some of the Drongos present. I could manage a quick look and take some record pictures. I saw the bird later again nearby, again perched together with a Black-winged Cuckooshrike. Distance was higher this time and quality of pictures therefore even worse. The birds were shy and both times I could only observe them shortly. But it was enough to note the following characteristics:
- whitish belly with strong streaks, also on throat
- dark cap and face
- upper mantle brownish, back and rump clearly very light grey
- beak rather long and light color, almost blueish

In the field I guessed a female Maroon Oriole but wondered about that grey back. Later (in the plane flying home) consulting the Robson field guide, I realised that it must be a female Silver Oriole. Still doubting a little, because the upper more brownish part of the mantle did not seem a perfect match of the description and drawing, I sent the pictures to some people. Simon Mahood and John Pilgrim confirmed that it is indeed a Silver Oriole.

As far as I know this must be the first record for Vietnam, and also the first record on passage from the wintering grounds in Thailand and Cambodia to the breeding grounds in China. Looking at maps of the (still poorly) known range, Hanoi lays pretty much on a potential migration route: Birdlife species fact sheet with range map. 

Here the two pictures (cropped and slighly lightened). Coordinates of the sighting (taken from google maps) are: 21.081355, 105.832847

Sebastien will try to find the bird again, and if the bird is still present, we'll certainly see better pictures.

Besides this phantastic bird, there were some other interesting birds present as well, many of them already observed by Sebastien in the previous days (see his previous post): Dollarbird, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, many Dusky and Radde's Warblers, Black, Ashy and Hair-crested Drongos, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (female), Mugimaki Flycatcher (male and female), Taiga Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarchs, Blue Whistling Thrush, Large Hawk Cuckoo, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, etc.

There was also a Forest Wagtail, an Orange-headed Thrush and a Common or Oriental (Himalayan) Cuckoo. I tend towards Oriental because of the somewhat bold barrings and the grey of the head constrasting with the dark back.

Florian Klingel

10 April 2014

Spring Migration : Some Hanoi Stuff

Spring migration is in full spring, and Hanoi’s parks & wooded/scrubby patches are great places to experience this. In large forests, things are much more “diluted”, I must say... Any park or garden can provide a stopover point for migrating birds and as the city continues to swallow up patches of greenery, these oases of habitat will become ever-increasingly important to passage migrants, making it even more likely that rare migrants can be found....

3-4 strolls (7-10 April) produced a nice selection of migrants/winter visitors, among them 2 lifers*, with highlights being (all at Bãi đá sông Hồng, northern tip of the Red River Island):

-1 male Narcissus Flycatcher (PM)
-1 Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo (PM)*
-1 Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (PM)
-1 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (? Status uncertain but certainly not R)*

PM : passage migrant
W: winter visitor
R: resident

And all the usual stuff at this period of the year:

-Blue Whistling Thrush (PM+W), Eye-browed (PM) and White’s Thrushes (PM+W). Wintering Thrushes numbers have mostly decreased rapidly since mid-March
-Small flocks of Ashy and Spangled Drongos (both PM), Ashy Minivets (PM)
-Black-naped Monarch (PM), in mixed flocks with many phylloscs (“Blyth” (lato sensu), Eastern-crowned, Yellow-browed...)
-In the understorey, some Radde’s, Dusky Warblers, Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf-Warblers
- Yellow-rumped (PM) and Mugimaki (PM+W) Flycatchers at all the patches. Numerous Taiga Flycatchers (PM+W), males in summer dress. Surprisingly very few Asian Brown (PM+W) and Hill/Chinese Blue Flycatchers.
-2 Large Hawk Cuckoos (PM) (with the Hodgson’s, nice surprise – 1st sighting for me at Hanoi! Much more difficult to see and photograph in forest!)
- 1 Dollarbird, certainly (scarce) PM here.
- In the open fields, a surprising Indian Roller around Vinh Thuy Bridge (rare sight in East Tonkin), flocks of Red-throated Pipits (PM+W), lone Burmese Shrikes (PM).
- Around water bodies, numerous Black-browed Reed-Warblers (PM), nice males Citrine Wagtails (PM+W) in summer dress et Eastern Yellow Wagtails (PM+W).

Black-browed Reed Warbler

Spangled Drongo

showing its erectile crest

 Black-naped Monarch, male

  Black-naped Monarch, female

 Dollardbird - scarce passage migrant at Hanoi (my 2nd record)

Eastern-crowned Warbler showing well its yellow vent

 Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf-Warbler

 Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo

 Large Hawk Cuckoo

 Asian Brown Flycatcher

A juicy male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher - Botanical Gardens. 

better background...

 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

 Eye-browed Thrush

Ashy Minivet

Another highlight of my strolls was this mating pair of Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) found in a carambola orchard.

This species is interesting for two reasons: first, it is listed (as Rare) in Vietnam's Red Data Book of threatened species (Vietnamese: Sách đỏ Việt Nam). Secondly, it is a magnificent creature with a wingspan of around 25-30 cm! It is the world's biggest moth, not by wingspan but by wing surface area. This mating pair was an amazing sight. To have an idea of its size, click here.

The caterpillars feed on the leaves of a wide range of trees, from the carambola to cinnamon, lime, pomelo, rambutan, guava, citrus fruits.
The wing tips are hooked and some say resemble a snake's head complete with eye, to scare off predators!

Its name in Vietnamese is Bướm khế (= carambola tree butterfly).