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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

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