Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

31 October 2011

Blue-rumped Pitta, Tam Dao, 31-10-2011

Hi all,

An interesting bird was found today - unfortunately not very much alive.
A first year (probably female) Blue-rumped Pitta. The bird was found near a mesh wire fence with which it probably collided.

Much fitter looked a nice male Siberian Rubythroat and a couple of Pale-footed Bush Warblers.


30 October 2011

Chestnut-eared Buntings / 29-10-2011

Hi all,

Spotted 2 or 3 Chestnut-eared Buntings at the northern tip of the Red River Island, just behind the sandy dunes.

They were feeding on the dry stems of Asters and also on the ground, with a flock of Scaly-breasted Munias.

One day after, I came back to try to get better shots. But I did much worse... Skittish birds, impossible to approach them less than 20 meters.
However, we can see well on those crap pics below the rufous band and the dark streaks on the breast of this male, probably not yet in full winter plumage.


29 October 2011

Sun 23 October: Hiding on red River Island

Damn you Sebastian, not only do you see so many more cool birds than I do, but I also took a photo this morning of the Red River boat, to post how I get onto the island. LOL. It is below.

This morning I took my camo-blanket and hid under it for the first time on the island (been talking about it for a long time). A couple of plain Prinias hid in it (till they smelt me) and eventually, when I turned around, there was a lovely Asian Koel just a few metres away. I need to do this more...

The birds I saw:
  • Bulbul (Red whiskered & Sooty)
  • Coucal (not sure how great it was)
  • Cuckoo, Plaintive
  • Drongo (Black, Ashy & Hair lipped)
  • Eagle, Crested serpent (long way away)
  • Falcon (unidentified)???
  • Heron, Grey
  • Koel, Asian
  • Minivet, Ashy
  • Monarch, Black naped
  • Prinia, Plain
  • Stonechat, Siberian
  • Wagtail, White
  • Warbler, Thick billed
  • Warbler, yellow browed

Ferry to Red River Island

Asian Koel

2 Black Storks at Hanoi / 29-10-2011

Hi all,

Big surprise this morning at the feet of Vinh Tuy Bridge with 2 Black Storks
feeding in the grasslands along the Red River (on the right in the photo above). At least one bird was an immature. I saw the second one only in fly, at great distance.
I spotted also many waders, at least 80-90 birds (and I scaned only half the place !), with 30-40 Temminck's Stints, 20+ Kentish Plovers, 2-3 Common Greenshanks (+ few Common and Green Sandpipers, many Little Ring Plovers). Probably the best spot for waders at Hanoi. But you have to bring your scope.

25 October 2011

Red River Island - 24/25-10-2011

Hi all,

Last Monday and Tuesday morning, before work, I focused on the channel between the Red River Island and the town.

The local “ferry boat” use by local people to reach the Red River Island. The other convenient entrance is the Long Bien Bridge.

This channel present important seasonal water level fluctuations, accentuated by the hydroelectric activities upstream (the Son La dam). It is definitely a good spot for Citrine Wagtail migrants/vagrants, both in autumn and spring, and even in the middle of the winter (January 2011 for example).
Actually, the water level is low, and the exposed muddy banks are attracting waders and wagtails. In 2 or 3 months, this place will be completely dry, only suitable for Paddyfield Pipits or Little Ringed Plovers.

Citrine Wagtail adult

So, Monday and Tuesday morning I bumped into some Citrine Wagtails, three of which were 1st winter birds.
A good occasion for a beginner like me to examine closely the differences with the (Eastern) Yellow Wagtail juvenile (can be useful when back to Europe !).

In fact, I think those birds are quite easily separable in the field:
Juv. Citrine Wagtails diagnostic features:

- Upperparts pure grey (Yellow : duller grey wash greenish/olive)
- Striking double white wing-bar
- Broad white supercilium continuing down and surrounding the ear-coverts
- Pale forehead
- White undertail-coverts
- Jizz ! Citrine bulkier, with a rounded head; Yellow much slender.

For comparison, I added 2 pics of Yellow W. (taxa macronyx probably if I refer to the adults I saw around) shot last year, at the same place.

This young Citrine W. (on the right, adult on the left) shows no pale border behind the ear-coverts, but all the other diagnostic features are OK.

I also saw a Pied Kingfishers party, 3 males and 1 female (regurgitating pellet). Nice to see again those little buggers !

… and 4 Temminck’s Stints which allowed me to approach very close, thanks guys !

But maybe the best surprise were 2 Ruddy-breasted Crakes, an adult and a juvenile.

A patch tick I think.

I stayed lying 45 minutes in the muddy sand (or sandy mud...) to get those photos, and I arrived at my office in a very nha quê style :)

Below, the juvenile. The 2 birds were together, but this one was more secretive

Happy birding !

(Joe, the local buffalo, a very nice guy)


23 October 2011

Red River Island, 23-10-2011

Hi all,

After Sebastien had some nice raptors yesterday, I had to be satisfied with 1 male Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk sp.
Other birds (most of them in or around the woodland) were more noteworthy, including:

- 5 Northern Pintails (eastern banks of the island)
- 1 Oriental/Eurasian Cuckoo
- 4 Blue-throated Bee-eaters
- 8 Temminck's Stints, a few Green and Common Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers (near the small ferry)
- 2 Ashy or Swinhoe's Minivets (too far away)
- a couple of Black-naped Monarchs, Asian Brown Flycatchers, Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers
- at least 2 Siberian Rubythroats (1 nice male)
- 1 Siberian Stonechat
- 1 distant Martin (Riparia-type)
- at least 3 Asian Stubtails
- 1 Manchurian Bush Warbler
- 2 Bush Warblers sp. (Bradypterus)
- at least 5 Thick-billed Warblers


22 October 2011

Crested Serpent-eagles (the proofs !)

Hi all,

This morning (22 October) I came back to the wooded area of the Red River Island to finish the job, i.e. take photos of the raptors I spotted yesterday.
A view of what we call "the wooded area of the Red River Island" for those who don't know the place. It is a small wooded patch of 100x400 meters (in the background) surrounded by cultivation, located 1 km from the city center. Vegetation is dense with many bushes, trees are generally less than 10-15 meters in height. So, nothing special... but goods birds are regularly spotted there.
The nearest good forests are 40-50km from here (Tam Dao, Ba Vi...).

I arrived when the sun was just beginning to cut through the fog. I flushed an Eurasian Woodcock in a crop field, and some minutes later I saw a raptor circling in the mist. I managed to get 2 shots before it disappeared.

Broad rounded wings, longish tail, mostly plain and pale underparts, three blackish tail-bands, broad rufous bars on belly, stripes on throat... I think everyone will be OK : Jerdon's Baza !

After this, the big guy I was waiting entered the scene, gliding slowly above the canopy, and landing on the highest tree of the area.

After a while, an another Crested Serpent-eagle appeared. Yes, two ! But clearly not the same age.

One is an adult; broad white band then broad black band can be seen along the trailing edge of the under-wing.

The other one is an immature, not a 1st calendar-year (whitish bellow according to the Robson guide), but a 2nd or 3rd cal-year I don't know.

But the perfect plumage and the swollen aspect of the secondaries recalls very much a juvenile raptor (1st winter), what do you think ?

Sebastien Delonglee

21 October 2011

Crested Serpent-eagle at Hanoi !

Hi all,

A crazy end of afternoon (21 October) around the wooded area of the Red River Island, with 3 BIG surprises.

The first one was a Racket-tailed Treepie, perching on top an isolated tree, not far from the edge. What the hell this guy is doing here, in the agricultural plain ?! I first thought it was a Drongo so I didn't pay much attention, until I noticed its characteristic head shape and bill.
The second one is much bigger - and I am sure you will not believe me :(

While I was in the wooded area watching for the slightest movement inside the dense vegetation, I saw a large raptor flying between the trees and landing on a branch at 30-40 meters in front of me. I put my bins on it and I could not believe my eyes : a Crested Serpent-eagle ! An adult (black nuchal crest, brown below, bright yellow cere/face-skin). During 20 seconds, I enjoyed great views. It finally detected me as I was moving a little bit to find a `hole` in the vegetation in order to try some shots.

The third one appeared just before sunset : two medium-sized raptors landing at the edge of the wooded area. I first thought it was 2 Oriental Honey-Buzzards but when I put my bins on them, I noticed their long crests. I am now almost certain it is Jerdon's Baza, a species already recorded on this patch (by Simon, last April)

Despite the distance, I tried some shots. That's not the best photos in the world, but maybe enough to confirm the ID.
The long erectile crest is well visible on the pic below.

Apart those 4 guys, I spotted :

- 1 Thick-billed Warbler

- 1 Accipiter sp

- 1 Spangled Drongo

- 1 local Black-shouldered Kite (still not exterminate ?!)

- 1 female Asian Koel

- 1 Homo hunter ssp vietnamensis, dressed in full camouflage (even the hat)...


20 October 2011

Sunday 16 Oct: Red River Island

A few hours on Sunday morning in our favourite Red River Island was lovely. As always at this time of year, plenty of birds around (and only 1 hunter today). The birds I identified were:

  • Drongo, Black
  • Drongo, Hair lipped
  • Drongo, Ashy
  • Bulbul-Red whiskered
  • Flycatcher, Asian brown
  • Flycatcher, dark sided
  • Flycatcher, Grey headed canary
  • Kestral, Common
  • Minivet , Ashy
  • Warbler, Grey crowned
  • Warbler, Eastern crowned
  • Warbler, Thick billed
  • Warbler, Yellow browed


Ashy minivet

Grey crowned warbler

Eastern crowned warbler

19 October 2011

Hanoi birding patches - 18/19-10-2011

Hi all,

Short birding strolls at the local "hot spots" (Lenin Park (1), Botanical garden (2), wooded area of the Red River Island (3), new patch at Gia Lam (4)) produced the following, among others :

Asian Stubtail exploring rubble full of rubbish. The challenge was how to take a photo of this guy without plastic bags around. Lenin Park/Toilet area.
Good video (October 2010, exactly at the same place) here.

- 1 Manchurian Bush-warbler (3), good views (during 15 seconds. With a such mega-skulker I can consider it was a good observation ! But not enough - not yet !- for a photo)
- 1 Ashy Minivet, 1 Verditer Fly (3)
- 2 Asian Stubtails (1, 2), both behind the WC
- 1 female Orange-headed Thrush (4)
- 2 Grey Bushchats (1), male and female together
- some Asian Brown Fly (1, 2, 3, 4)
- 2 Taiga Fly (4)
- some Dusky Warblers (1, 3, 4)
- some Grey-headed Canary Fly (1, 2, 3, 4)
- some Black Drongos (1, 3)

Sébastien Delonglée
A Flycatcher and its friend enjoying the morning sun/Lenin Park

A gorgeous female Orange-headed Thrush

The famous Toilet area of the Lenin Park that the World envies us !

Flycatchers list for memory : Dark-sided Flycatcher, Asian Brown Fly, Brown-breasted Fly, Brown-chested Jungle Fly, Ferruginous Fly, Verditer Fly, Yellow-rumped Fly, Green-backed Fly, Mugimaki Fly, Taiga Fly, Snowy-browed Fly, Blue-and-White Fly, Fujian Niltava, Hainan Blue Fly, Chinese/Hill Blue Fly, Grey-headed Canary Fly, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise Fly - among many other good birds - have been spotted here !

Lenin Park scenery

Tam Dao, 19-10-2011

Hi all,

A bit more movement around the bear centre today.
More drongos coming through, namely Ashy and Spangled.
Corvids put in quite an appearance, with Grey Treepie being the undisputed star!
Also, both Racket-tailed and Ratchet-tailed Treepies.


18 October 2011

Northern Laos Mountian forest (Phou Khoun)

12 October: I got a pass and into the Mountain forests about five hours towards Ventiene from Luang Prabang for a morning, seeing plenty of birds, which seemed before this to be fairly uncommon for Laos. A couple seemed fairly atypical (images below) and initially I thought I was onto something new (for me) but I have been swayed by the experts. Wish I had been quicker with my camera for the two raptor species that I flushed from close range. Next time…

Note: This area is close to some holdouts of "resistance", and tourists have been harmed here some time back (I did not know that when I went). I never felt unsafe here, and the people were very friendly.


  • Bulbul, Brown breasted

  • Bulbul, Red whiskered

  • Bulbul, Sooty headed

  • Bushchat, Grey

  • Drongo, Ashy

  • Drongo, Black

  • Drongo, Hair crested

  • Hoopoe, Common

  • Kite, Black eared (large group flew over)

  • Oriole, Black naped (???)

  • Raptor, Unidentified large

  • Raptor, Unidentified mid-sized

  • Robin, Oriental magpie

  • Shrike, Long tailed

  • Stonechat, Siberian

  • Wagtail, White

  • Warbler, Yellow browed
Siberian stonechat
Grey Bushchat
Bulbul, brown breasted

And a couple of images of atypical birds. I posted these on Birdforum, and below is the consensus of what they were. I am no expert, so I guess I have to go with the calls, until someone comes up with a better idea...

Ashy Drongo, but with yellow belly. Probably pollen???
Sooty headed Bulbul, but with tail growing out, and reflection off top ofhead, making it look grey. Also pollen on belly,making it look yellow. Itook some convincing.