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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


  1. Oh, and Sebastién - yes indeed, very nice record shots of the Baza, I agree. Also agree that the 2nd CSE should be a 1st year bird.


  2. Hi Falk,

    I am very happy if the two CSE have left the place, it is definitely not for them if we consider the number of local hunters(I am sure there are a least 3 or 4 guys who are exploiting the area, I never see the same head !).
    At the end of the afternoon I came there, with the hope to spot migrant raptors landing. I saw nothing.
    But I flushed 4 Greater Painted-snipes, with at least 1 female, in a field crop adjacent to a temporary pond (near the place we saw the Black-faced Buntings and Grey-capped Greenfinches last spring). And 1 hoopoe was hanging around also.


  3. Darn it, the Painted Snipes would have been a country first for me!
    About the raptors - I thought exactly the same!
    I think best time to watch them (if at all) is late afternoon when they come in to roost. By the time they start circling up the following day they might be shot dead. I heard gun shots from 2 different sites near the woodland. Very sad. But what can you say, when the same thing is happening (to an even worse extend) in the heart of Europe...
    Good night

  4. Nice birds. Went in Sunday morning (will post soon) and saw one CSE from a big distance. Appeared to be leaving island.

    Falk, was it you who arrived from alley 76 on an old bike (something like a Minsk)at around 11am?

    Also, what made you decide it was a Oriental/Eurasian Cuckoo. I have got sick of posting all sorts of images of cuckoes from around Hanoi, and they all have turned out to be Plaintive. Again yesterday I saw a few that I just assumed were Plaintive, but still have some images...


  5. Pintails Falk! Awesome.

    Wayne, although Oriental/Eurasian are virtually identical (and probably only really possible to identify by voice on the breeding grounds/spring passage) but both look very different to Plaintive, which is the only resident cuckoo in Hanoi.

    In their easiest plumage Euro/Ori Cuckoo will look like this: http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=2&Bird_ID=445&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1 Whilst Plaintive will look like this: http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?p=2&Bird_ID=439&Bird_Family_ID=&pagesize=1 get to know the size and shape of these species with the easy plumage individuals first.


  6. Hi guys

    I seem to see a lot more female Cuckoos than males (Sunday, 4 females, 0 males). These two pictures, amongst others, (http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?Bird_ID=445&Bird_Image_ID=44854&Bird_Family_ID=&p=20 and http://orientalbirdimages.org/search.php?Bird_ID=439&Bird_Image_ID=35235&Bird_Family_ID=&p=17) suggest the lighter patches on front edge of the wing are triangular for female Plaintive, and more rectangular for female Oriental/Eurasian. Would this be a feature to hold on to???

    Also some female images (including mine in the weekend) give a hint of a dark stripe in front of the eye for Plaintive only (Although not shown in Robson). Any thoughts on this?



  7. Hi Wayne,

    I've sent you a message - are you interested in coming out to Xuan Thuy this weekend?

    I don't know about the patches on the wings to be honest, as I've never paid great attention to it.
    If you're seeing 'females' only, they might be as well juveniles?
    You can't really tell the sexes apart in both Cuculus canorus and C. saturatus, unless you see the hepatic morph (which is not overly common). With Cacomantis merulinus you can't go too wrong, as in most cases females come as a hepatic morph - if not, they still have a brown tinge and are less colorful, from my experience.
    Basically, if you have a big, grey cuckoo with a barred belly it's Oriental/Eurasian. If it is a bit smaller with orange breast/belly it is Plaintive (didn't mention the brownies in here).
    Hope that helps.