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

3 October 2016

Hanoi: Some autumn passage records, 19th Sept.-3rd Oct. 2016

The past 15 days have seen much less migrants passing through Hanoi compared to the 2 first weeks of September. The weather is now probably too good ; many migrants simply passed through without stopping. Unfortunately, no overcast skies, contrary winds or rain in the forecast for the next few days.

The lush microforest at Vuon Nhan yielded both Hill Blue and Chinese Blue Flycatchers, 2 other Brown-breasted Flycatchers (on 20th Sept. and 3rd Oct.), Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers regularly seen, three species of Drongos (Hair-crested and Ashy D. (leucogenis/salangensis and hopwoodi races) in the wood, Black D. in the open landscape), first Siberian Rubythroat on 2nd October, Siberian Blue Robins often seen/heard (mostly female but also 1 stunning ad. male and 1cy male), the first Orange-headed Thrush of the autumn on 20th Sept., 3-4 individuals on 3rd Oct., first Sulphur-breasted Warblers on 21th, often in mixed-species foraging flocks with Japanese White-eyes, resident Cinerous Tits, Pylloscs ssp. (Arctic, Claudia's, Eastern Crowned...), Amur Paradise Flycatchers...

First Baikal Bush-warbler and Black-browed Reed Warbler of the autumn on 25th. Pale-footed Bush Warbler heard on 3rd October. Seicercus warblers seen at almost each visits - didn’t call and therefore remained unidentified.
1 Black-capped Kingfisher and 1 Dollarbird on 2nd October. The same day, a lone Chestnut-crowned Warbler (excellent bird for the city!) and the first Grey-headed Canary-flycatchers of the season.

Some passage of Black-winged Cuckooshrikes also. A secretive Chestnut-winged Cuckoo noted on 21th, a Nightjar sp. (likeky Grey N.) photographed the 20th by Tuong Bach, 2 Wrynecks and 1 passage migrant Hoopoe on 21th. And another juvenile Malayan Night Heron on 29th.

No sighting of Tiger Shrike anymore (early autumn migrant), and much less Amur Paradise Flycatchers than 2 weeks ago. Few sightings of Yellow-rumped Fycatchers also (in Hanoi, most of autumn records are in the last ten days of August and the first twenty days of September) and none of Asian Koels (regularly seen at the beginning of September).

Mid-September, near Vuon Nhan, the mudflats along the Red River at Vinh Thuy bridge also yielded 90+ Grey-headed Lapwings.
At Botanical Gardens, a gorgeous male Siberian Thrush found on 3rd Oct..

In the same area (Vuon Nhan), Tom Kompier also spotted at least 8 Blue-throated Bee-eaters and 1 Thick-billed Green Pigeon on 24th Sept.- both are interesting records for Hanoi. Sightings of  Treron in the city are scarce (the other one recorded here is Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon). Most green pigeons are noted wanderers so there is always the possibility of encountering vagrants in unusual locations. 

And last but not least, Tom's girlfriend, Kameliya, found 3 Red-necked Phalaropes on 28th Sept. at West Lake, the largest lake of the city. Two individuals (juveniles) were still there on 29th, 30th Sept.and 1st Oct. incredibly tame as usual. At the Phalarope's spot, I spotted on 30th a distant flock of 7 unidentified Terns.

At this time of year, considering the number of bird photographers at Vuon Nhan and other small woodlots, we go out not hoping, but expecting to get interesting records. Recently, we have rarely been disappointed. Hey guys, keep up the great work and don't forget to share with me your data (species, count, location and date)  - and not only beautiful images on Facebook ;) !


Male Siberian Thrush, 3rd Oct., Botanical Gardens
It's been too long since I've seen this Thrush, my favorite one, in Hanoi. What a fantastic bird, both beautiful and elusive. The second Zoothera thrush seen this autumn. Turdus thrushes will arrive later (usually in late Oct.-early Nov.).

Male Orange-headed Thrush (top), Vuon Nhan, 28th Sept.
Female Orange-headed Thrush (below), Botanical Gardens, 3rd Oct.
Like the microforest of Vuon Nhan, the Botanical Gardens is a very effective migrant trap.

Brown-brested Flycatcher, Vuon Nhan. A scarce but regular passage migrant

Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes/borealoides, Vuon Nhan. As is usually the case, because the bird in this photo was not singing (passage migrants can sing in spring), I was unable to identify it beyond the level of Pale-legged/Sakhalin

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, West Lake, 29th Sept.
A scarce passage migrant in Vietnam, mostly recorded along the coast in C. and S. Annam, Cochinchina, sometimes in large flocks at coastal aquaculture ponds. Also regularly recorded inland in the Da Lat Plateau. Rarer in the North, recorded at least from Xuan Thuy N.P.

Very tame, most approachable of all waders

Female Black-naped Monarch, Vuon Nhan

Female Siberian Blue Robin, Vuon Nhan

1st calendar year male Siberian Blue Robin, Vuon Nhan

Male Hill Blue Flycatcher, Vuon Nhan

Same individual

1st calendar year Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Vuon Nhan

Same individual, close-up on head

1st calendar year Dark-sided Flycatcher, Vuon Nhan, so weak and exhausted it cannot stand on a perch

Chestnut-crowned Warbler, 2nd October, Vuon Nhan
Scarce migrant (altitudinal I think) in Hanoi, all records in autumn (previous ones: 10th Oct. 2013, mid-Nov. 2014)

Sulphur-breasted Warbler, Vuon Nhan

Claudia's Leaf Warbler, 2nd Oct., Vuon Nhan - a common passage migrant

Black-browed Reed Warbler, 25th Sept., Vuon Nhan 

Juvenile Malayan Night Heron playing hide-and-seek, 29th Sept, Vuon Nhan

15 September 2016

Hanoi - migration in full swing

Hi all,

The autumn migration season here in Hanoi has kicked off in style. Leading the parade of migrants was Fairy Pitta, found at "Vuon nhan Vinh Thuy" on 5 Sept. 2016 and still there on 12. Another notable sightings include up to 4 Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers, Hainan Blue, Brown-breasted Flycatchers, 1 fem and 1 male juv. Siberian Blue Robins, Hill/Chinese Blue Flycatchers (1 male and lots of females lol), 5-10 Amur Paradise Flycatchers with among them 1 white-morph, 1 Malayan Night Heron...

Concerning Fairy Pitta, this is the second record of this endangered species in Hanoi, the first time last year during spring passage. They stayed there for a week (from September 05 to 12). I checked the site yesterday but didn't find them anymore. I loooove Pittas, so till the day I found them in Hanoi, I came everyday and had excellent photo opportunities. Many birders came to see it and no one came back empty-handed!

I already photographed 4 Pitta species (Blue-rumped, Blue, Bar-bellied and Fairy). I intend to photograph all Pitta species in Vietnam, a good challenge :)

About the Malayan Night Heron: this is not the first record in Hanoi. My friend PHAM HONG PHUONG photograph an individual on April 15, 2016 (Pls check the shot below)

Happy birding!

Hoang Le

PS: Sorry for poor image quality, I didn't have enough time for post-processing... Have to head to Tam Dao now... Birds awaiting me lol.

* Some notes concerning the habitat: the patch is a 3ha lychee orchard (old trees). Most of the birds, notably Fairy Pittas and Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers, were found in the dense, unmanaged scrubby edges (an area of ca 50m x 20m) composed by the pioneer species Broussonetia papyrifera and Ficus sp. (trees), Flueggea virosa (shrubs) and ferns (understorey). The Pittas were mostly seen foraging on the ground, but sometimes perched on branches just before to come at the photography set.

Hainan Blue Flycatcher

Brown-Breasted Flycatcher

Fairy Pitta

Malayan Night Heron - a great bird for the city!

Amur Paradise Flycatcher

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher

female Cyornis sp.

1cy male Siberian Blue Robin

Malayan Night Heron, by Pham Hong Phuong, 15th April 2016 (1st record for the city?)

9 September 2016

Hanoi: Fairy Pittas still there

Five days after being found, the 2 Fairy Pittas are still hanging around. Today I installed my hide few hours near the hides of Hoang and fellow photographers - many thanks to you! Had fantastic views at close range. Hey guys, everyone spotted them, everyone got sharp shots from every angles, maybe it's time now to stop feeding them and let them go. They have still a long way to go and the area is not really safe - poachers roamed around.

Some other migrants seen around: Hainan, Mugimaki, Hill/Chinese Blue, Brown-breasted, Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, 2-3 Black-naped Monarchs, 1 female and 1juv. male Siberian Blue Robin, 1 Spangled Drongo (singing), 2 Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers, 1 Little Cuckoo-Dove (seen and photographed by Tuan Tran) and 1 Malayan Night Heron - the two latter in all likelihood are first records for the city.

juv. (bill flesh-based) Amur Paradise Flycatcher

6 September 2016

Two Fairies in the city!

Yesterday, Hoang informed me he had discovered a Fairy Pitta at Vuon Nhan Vinh Thuy, a scrubby lytchee orchard close to the Red River (and only few kilometers from Hanoi city center)... where 4 Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatchers had been recorded one day before!

Today, I tried my luck at noon. I met there almost all the local bird photographers: Bac, Quyet, Hao, Long, Tien, Hoang and Thanh, all equipped with monster lens... and all very happy with their double megatick (pitta + Jungle-Fly). Never spotted so many Vietnamese birdwatchers together! They informed me that 2 - and not only one - Fairy Pittas were hanging around!

Despite the lack of time (one hour) and the poor weather, I managed to grab a few acceptable 'atmospheric' shots of one of the pittas before it disappeared in the scrub. Hoang and some other fellow birders used a hide + mealworms, so they certainly got clean close-ups - hope they can share here some pics.

The previous - and probably first - record of Fairy Pitta in the city was in April 29, 2015.

Other noteworthy species seen in this area include Hainan, Mugimaki, Dark-sided, Yellow-rumped, Asian Brown Flycatchers, Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatchers (at least 2 ind.), 1 female Siberian Blue Robin, 1 Forest Wagtail, 1 juv. Tiger Shrike, the white morph "Asian Paradise Flycatcher" seen last Sunday.


Fairy Pitta, Hanoi/6th Sept. 2016 (ISO 4000, 1\100sec handheld shot)
May have come from Taiwan, China, or from Japan, who knows the story it could tell. If all goes well, in the coming weeks it will arrive in Borneo to spend the winter.

A monster patch bird !!!

4 September 2016

Hanoi city: four BC Jungle-Flycatchers... in one patch!

Hello all fellow birders visiting or living in Hanoi ! Autumn migration of passerine birds is well underway, so dust off your binoculars and check out our scrubby/woody patches - yes, I know, almost all have been destroyed... And post here your sightings!

I (Sebastien) observed some passerine movements from the beginning of August with 1 Forest Wagtail on 5th, 2 Yellow-rumped Flycatchers on 11th, 1 Tiger Shrike and 2 Amur-Paradise Flycatchers on 17th, some Phylloscs - Eastern Crowned, Arctic, Claudia's-, 2 Asian Koel on 25th, 1 Hodgson Hawk Cuckoo on 27th etc...

A late morning visit today (4rd September) produced some excellent birds around Vinh Thuy Bridge, in the area called Vườn nhãn Vĩnh Tuy (Lytchee orchard of Vinh Thuy bridge), the more notable species were 4 (!) Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers (2 adults, 2 juv.) and 1 Brown-breasted Flycatcher. Also 10+ Amur-Paradise Flycatchers (with among them a nice white morph male), 1 Crested Goshawk, 1 Chinese Blue Flycatcher, 2 Hainan Blue Flychachers, 2 Forest Wagtails, Tiger and Brown Shrikes (one each), 1 Hair-crested Drongo, 4 species of Phylloscs - Claudia's, Eastern-crowned, Pale-legged, Arctic...,

When I started working the patch, I encountered quickly my first Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, a juvenile, and 10 minutes later an adult. Wow.. 2 BCJF, I was very happy! Later, I bumped into 2 juv. almost side-by-side, so 3 BCJF, wow..wow... And finally, 2 adults were spotted in the same area, bringing the total number to 4 - the same day and in a small patch of scrub, amazing !!!

1cy (lower mandible partly black, tertials buff tipped) Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
 Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher is a Hanoi specialty- never been recorded elsewhere in the country! Cross Vietnam unnoticed, except by ardent Hanoi's patch workers! 

Adult (lower mandible entirely yellow) Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

Adult female Amur Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone incei)

Amur Paradise-Flycatcher (same individual as above)

Brown-breasted Flycatcher

Male "Asian Paradise-Flycatcher" white morph (T. incei?) without the spectacular long central feathers.