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27 November 2011

Cuu Thac - Tu Son, Hoa Binh Province, 27-11-2011

Hi all,

A very pleasant Sunday was spent birding in a semi-montaneous area, 70kms south-west of Hanoi.

This site (google map here) definitely has some potential, as there's an interesting mix of vegetation, including bamboo. Not much of a primary forest is left though.

We birded along the one trail, that is leading up to a few waterfalls. Some very nice species were seen. Amongst them the more notable were,

- Crested Serpent Eagle
- Blue Whistling Thrush
- White-capped Water Redstart
- Plumbeous Water Redstart
- at least 1 very late Mugimaki Flycatcher
- at least 1 nice male Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
- lots of Verditer Flycatchers
- 1 smart 1st winter male Blue-and-White Flycatcher
- 1 splendid male Fujian Niltava
- White-crowned Forktail
- Slaty-backed Forktail
- Yellow-bellied Warbler
- Buff-breasted Babbler
- Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler
- Golden Babbler
- Spectacled Barwing
- Blue-winged Minla (Siva)
- Collared Babbler
- Silver-eared Mesia
- Black-throated Sunbird

A surprisingly good list for a totally unprotected site - it was actually better than Tam Dao most of the times! On the other hand, Tam Dao is not really protected either...


Jan de Groot, Wayne Hodgkinson (pictures), Falk Wicker

Crested Serpent Eagle

Blue Whistling Thrush

Blue-winged Minla

Fujian Niltava


  1. Stunning captures, of such beautiful birds! Very envy with you guys.
    How was the trail ? Easy to find ?


  2. Hi Seb,
    We couldn't find the "Indiana Jones" trail but the other parts of the upper trail were really nice. Unfortunately, most of the bamboo where you had seen the parrotbills last year was dead. But it should be a great spot once the bamboo re-grows!
    Nice find, this area!

  3. Sounds like a great site guys, it would surely repay more visits, particularly in the mid winter and spring. What's the elevation, I'm guessing about the same as Tam Dao?


  4. Hi Simon

    The parking is about 350-400m asl, not more.
    And the altitude at the end of the "easy trail" is around 600m asl (estimation).
    It is possible to continue along the river ("Indiana Jones" trail) and go much higher (up 1000m, much better forest there), but need to bring food/tent and sleep in the forest :)


  5. So low? The siva and barwing would indicate that it is higher...


  6. Yep Simon, i am pretty much 100% sure it is below 600m.
    From Hanoi to the feet of this mountain (the Muong village), the road is almost flat.
    To access the parking, we can add 200-250m in elevation. And on the trail, 150-200m more.

    And you Wayne, Falk, Jan, what do you think ?


  7. I have absolutely no idea - it would be very hard to tell just from guessing. Isn't there a way to find out through Google Maps?

  8. Hi Guys

    I have seen Google maps set up to show altitide below the cursor, but are not sure how to set it up, on the map provided. I will go back soon, and can get an altitide using the GPS on my phone, then will post here.


  9. Got it. Use Google Earth and fly to 20° 42’ 27.99N 105° 25’ 01.47E. I ignored using the guys uploaded images to sort out locations, as they seemed a bit off, but the building are evident on the map, and the top building appear to be at 1410 feet (430m). Trying to work out where we went from there is a bit more tricky, but if we assuem we went about 2km up the valley, we got to about 800m - walking up about 400m "feels" right to me.


  10. altitude around 400m at the parking; it confirm what I thought. But the problem is that the trail did't go 2 km up the valley.
    We walk 2km, for sure (I guess a bit less but it doesn`t matter...), but it is mountain ! I mean, the penetration inside the valley at the end is only 500m or something like this...
    The other problem is that it is impossible to locate the river on the google map. So it is very easy to make a mistake and get the altitude of the... crest of the valley.

  11. Well there we go, that just shows that you should never argue with Sebastian!

    It's below the normal altitudinal range of those species, but things do always move downhill in winter, no doubt things would get even better the higher you could get...