Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

28 February 2011

Red River Island - Hanoi

Hi all,

A wander around the Red River Island yesterday (29th February) produced a nice selection of birds including a flock of 6-7 Red-throated Pipits, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Wryneck, 2 Black Bulbuls (white headed race), 1 Light-vented Bulbul, 1 Grey-backed Thrush, 2 Black-shouldered Kites displaying.

Sébastien Delonglée

Spring is finally here. For those Black-shouldered Kites, it's time to start re-thinking about serious things...

Red-throated Pipit, the second pic showing well the streaked rump.

All the birds showed a whitish throat, a warm brown head.

26 February 2011

A Pleasant Morning in Dong Hoi

I'm slowly making my way south on the train from Ninh Binh after a fantastic visit to Cuc Phuong, and broke the journey last night at Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, which I gather is the northernmost extremity of Central Annam, or the southernmost extremity of North Annam.

Having discovered already that Robson's guide has a few deficiencies, and that stated ranges are sometimes incomplete, I suspect it won't be news to many readers that Gray Capped Greenfinch has a broader range than given in his book. I am now neither in East Tonkin nor in South Annam, the two areas given for this species, and am in fact almost exactly between the two of them, so it seems worth noting that the species is near-abundant along the coast here.

Dune and casuarina near Dong Hoi, where Grey Capped Greenfinch is very common.

For a good ten kilometer stretch of beachfront casuarina scrub on the peninsula across the bridge to the east of the city proper, I found it to be perhaps the most common species, seen virtually every time I stopped my motorbike.

The least boring of this morning's birds:

Blue Rock Thrush (in Dong Hoi city proper)
Grey Capped Greenfinch
Kentish Plover
White Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Oriental Skylark
Cinnamon Bittern
Black Capped Kingfisher
Zitting Cisticola, properly identified

Were you to find a Blue Rock Thrush right along the riverfront in downtown Dong Hoi, this ruined (bombed, by my people) church would be about the only likely spot. There was one on it this morning.

Incidentally, there are kilometers of unpeopled beach beginning just a kilometer or two south of Dong Hoi along the coastal spit on the other side of the river.


Richard Fleming

24 February 2011

Quick trip to Hoa Binh

On Wednesday 23rd, I had to race out to Hoa Binh to sort out accomodation for a school field-trip, and managed to get away for a short look around. While many common birds were out in the thick mist, the highlights of my day were the following. Low light meant poor photos sorry, but I will be back there soon...

  • White-capped Water Redstart

  • Plumbeous Water Redstart (male & female)

  • Common Kestrel (male)


White-capped Water Redstart

Plumbeous Redstart male

Common Kestrel (male)

Plumbeous Redstart female

22 February 2011

Tam Dao, National Park HQ

Hi all,

Spring is in full swing - according to the tens of Ashy Drongos migrating through today, despite the horrible weather.
Also around the Park Head Quarters 1 Verditer Flycatcher and 1 Grey Treepie and newly arrived Japanese Thrushes (much easier to approach than the regular winter guests).


20 February 2011

Tam Dao, Water tank trail, 19/02

Hi all,

Tam Dao's reputation for being one of the toughest spots to go birding is certainly justified!
Few birds and fog. No sign of Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill. Or its short-tailed cousin.
However, we managed to get brief views of other interesting species, including:

- 3 Collared Scops Owls on the drive up to Tam Dao sitting along the road
- Silver Pheasant (2 females)
- Bar-backed Partridge (heard)
- Grey-throated Babbler
- Spot-necked Babbler
- Green Cochoa (heard in the distance by Simon)
- Great Barbet (heard)
- Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler
- Streak-throated Scimitar-babbler
- Grey Laughingthrush
- White-hooded Babbler (a pair and a small flock)
- Grey Laughingthrush
- Treepie (Grey or Collared)
- Fork-tailed Sunbird
- Silver-eared Mesia (heard only)

Anything else? Grey Wagtail to finish it of.

Simon, Stephan, Falk

Scaly & Grey-backed Thrushes at Botanical Gardens

After a slow and damp start, all the usual suspects came out to play. Just before I left, some movement caught my eye. It was a pretty friendly Scaly Thrush that slowly made its way towards me as I hid behind a tree. After a while, the Grey-Backed Thrush flew out of a tree to join it. It was a nice end to the morning!

Scaly Thrush

Grey-Backed Thrush

19 February 2011

The Long-billed Plovers extend their stay at Hanoi

It seems that the Long-billed Plovers got a visa extension.
Today (19 February), more than one month after the first contact (16th January), I was surprised to found again 5 individuals. They just move a little (look this GoogleMap), that's why Richard didn't see them few days ago. To reach this area, you will have to go through the island.


17 February 2011

2 Pale Thrushes at Lenin Park !

Hi all,

Short stroll at noon today (17th February) at the Lenin Park. The best were 2 strange Thrushes, together, which gave me a headache.
Some pics :

Plain grey head, brownish-chestnut nape/back/rump, yellowish bill (lower mandible)/eyering, brown washed breast, dirty white flanks (slightly brown-mottled) and belly but snowy white undertail-coverts...

Note also white alula and white flight-feather fringing.

Skittish bird

My feelings is that's looks good for a Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus. But this species is not in my Robson (edition 2005) ! Is it in yours ?

Some informations found on the net : "Breeds in south-east Siberia, north-east China and Korea and may breed in Japan. It is largely migratory, wintering in southern and central Japan, South Korea and southern China, occasionally reaching as far as Yunnan, Taiwan and the Philippines".

Yunnan, and why not Vietnam ? Maybe just need a harsh winter like this one to convince those little buggers to cross the border...

Other species seen :
1 Taiga Flycatcher
1 Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker male
2 Common Kingfishers and 1 White-breasted Waterhen in the flower garden
1 Brown Shrike
1 Chinese Blackbird male, with nice bluish reflections. Yeah, the sun has reappeared...

Sébastien Delonglée

16 February 2011

Botanical Gardens, Hanoi and Red River mud 15/02/2011

This post is really just to thank those in the Hanoi birding community who have been posting to this blog. (Florian explained to me via email how to post here). Without your posts this visiting birder would likely have taken time off from twitching Vietnam to do nothing but eat in Hanoi, but instead I was introduced to a couple of locations that really sounded worth birding. I see that for the most part those posting here only list the most exciting species, but I'll give a complete list, since as an outsider I can say I had little idea what else I might see on a visit.

The night train I was on from Sapa got in yesterday morning about 4:30 AM, and the hotel didn't have a room for me that early, so I waited for daylight and made my way to the Botanical Gardens. For such a tiny park, it really is very birdy! The number of Olive-backed pipits alone makes one feel rather foolish for having been excited to see a handful of them at Ho Tuyen Lam outside Dalat.

White Throated Fantail
Tree Sparrow
Great Tit
Eurasian Blackbird
Olive Backed Pipit
Pied Wagtail
Red Whiskered Bulbul
Oriental Magpie Thrush
Common Tailorbird
Japanese Thrush (male and female)
Orange Flanked Bush Robin (female)
Japanese White Eye
Dusky Warbler (at least 3)
Ashy Drongo (one)
Common Kingfisher
Gray Headed Canary Flycatcher (one)

I didn't have a long enough lens to get any decent bird pictures, but I have the following notes on another thrush; perhaps you can help. Slightly larger than the Japanese Thrushes, Brown above, grayer on the head, but without enormous contrast (not "gray-hooded" feeling). Some brown on the crown. Bill yellow with black tip. Skittish. (More nervous than the other thrushes here). Flushes from the ground, flies across the lake into a tree, looks for threats and then goes back to the ground. Face and head gray. Throat dingy and grizzled. Not spotted below or to the sides apart from the grizzled throat. Flanks rufous, dingy whiter to the center of belly. Has faint but marked white eyebrow extending well back behind eye, and also a half crescent white mark just below the eye.

(I would imagine this is an Eyebrowed Thrush, but it is many years since I had any experience with this species, and the eyebrow is significantly fainter than those in any images I found online. I'm wondering if Simon saw the same bird this morning. Any comments?)

I then walked over to the highway and crossed at An Duong to the neighborhood between the road and the Red River Island. Out-of-towners who have never birded here perhaps should be warned that this site is part farm, part mud-flat, part shanty-town. It has a slightly sketchy feel to it. I never felt in any danger, but it is one of those strange edge-of-the-city dumping grounds where the people give you a long hard look, as if to say "what the hell is that gringo doing here?" It is perhaps a testament to the relatively crime-free country of Vietnam that in a similar location in South America I would be very nervous and unsure about security.

After entering the neighborhood on An Duong, the road immediately bears to the left. After a few hundred meters, turn right on Ngo 76 An Duong. I hadn't noted this address down, and I spent a while wandering down dead-end alleys trying to get to the river, before I found this street by accident. Ngo 76 An Duong goes to some brickyards, then through a patch of shanty, and then emerges at a muddy strip of water between Hanoi proper and the Red River Island. There is some cultivation here and a small amateur ferry service to shuttle locals across to the island. I saw some good birds walking along the shore and around a couple of rice paddies, including some for the trip list.

Little Ringed Plover
Pied Wagtail
Bluethroat (3 different individuals)
Bright Headed Cisticola
Plain Prinia
Common Kingfisher
Siberian Stonechat
Citrine Wagtail (at least 2 individuals)
Gray Wagtail
Common Sandpiper
Snipe sp.
White throated Fantail
Red Throated Pipit (one)
Paddyfield Pipit (many but ? could this be anything else)
White Rumped Munia
Pied Harrier (male)
Black Bulbul
Green Sandpiper

Do chime in if it looks like I've hacked any identifications. Thanks again to those who suggested these sites. I'll likely go to Ninh Binh this Saturday, Van Long on Sunday and Cuc Phuong for a few days after that; if anyone is interested in meeting up for a bit more Hanoi birding over the next couple of days, I don't have a phone, but drop me an email at donflan (insert that symbol used in all addresses here) yahoo (and then a period here) com.

Richard Fleming

Grey-backed Thrush in the botanical gardens

A good morning in the botanical gardens today with:
Grey-backed Thrush (female)
Japanese Thrush (male and female)
Eye-browed Thrush (male)
Chinese Blackbird (four)
Ashy Drongo (one)


8 February 2011

Birding with a baby - Hoi An area

The only way I could get out birding over Tet was to volunteer to look after the wee guy. While it meant keeping to tracks and paths, it was still good to be out.

The first three mornings saw us in (or near) a small patch of scrub and cactus, near Cua Dia that has been productive in the past. Unfortunately, the Siberian Rubythroat and multitude of Plaintive Cuckoos that had been so friendly at Christmas were heard but never seen. We still managed to see:

  • Asian Brown Flycatcher

  • Black(?) Drongo

  • Black-capped Kingfisher

  • Brown Shrike

  • Common Tailorbird

  • Grey Wagtail

  • Long-tailed Shrike

  • Oriental Turtle-dove

  • Paddyfield(?) Pipit

  • Red-collared Dove

  • Scaly-breasted Munia

  • Siberian Stonechat

  • Sooty-headed Bulbul

  • Streak-eared bulbul

  • White-throated Kingfisher

Two days surfing in Central Vietnam, only allowed me 20 minutes a day for birding (the boys after breaky smoke time), but still managed to see my first Green Bea-eater and a Greater Coucal.

On our last morning, little Luke and I we went into the rice growing area to the North East of Hoi An. Highlights for me were Red Throated Pipits (Pipits I could definitively identify) and 2 Common Hoopie (before now, never close enough to photograph). We saw pretty much all of the birds listed above, and...

  • Barn Swallow

  • Blue rock-thrush

  • Common Hoopie

  • Common Kingfisher

  • Chinese Pond Heron

  • Cinnamon Bittern

  • Egrets (various)

  • Eurasian Blackbird

  • Little-ringed Plover

  • Red-throated Pipit

  • White Wagtail

  • Wood Sandpiper

  • Zitting Cisticola

Chuc Mung Nam Moi


Siberian Rubythroat

Green Bee-eater

Cinnamon Bittern

Common Hoopoe

Red-throated Pipit

1 February 2011

Zebra Dove at Ho Tram Beach Resort

Hi All,

Further to Florian and Simon's reports of Zebra Doves in the vicinity of Vinh Cuu and Cat Tien last year I can now confirm that they have arrived at Ho Tram, 100km or so to the South-East of Saigon. During a pre-Tet beach break there with the family at the weekend I came across several Zebra Doves looking very at home in the casuarinas around the Ho Tram Beach Resort. Although much of the weekend was spent in the swimming pool and on the water slides rather than looking for birds there were plenty of birds around the resort with Plain-backed Sparrows and Grey-headed Greenfinches common in the casuarinas as usual. A list of birds seen on a pre-breakfast stroll around the resort, beachfront and neighbouring scrub and from my sun lounger follows:

Little Heron
Pond Heron species
Eastern Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Kentish Plover
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Plaintive Cuckoo
Asian Koel
White-throated Kingfisher
Little Green Bee-Eater
Common Hoopoe
Golden-bellied Gerygone
Racket-tailed Treepie
Brown Shrike
Olive-backed Sunbird
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
White-rumped Munia
Plain-backed Sparrow
Grey-capped Greenfinch
Taiga Flycatcher
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Streak-eared Bulbul
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Common Tailorbird

All the best and chuc mung nam moi etc... to all,

Richard Craik