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8 November 2011

Weekend birding trip to Xuan Thuy National Park 05 - 06/11/11

Scanning the shore at Con Luu island

A weekend jaunt to Xuan Thuy National Park produced several notable records including a lone Amur Falcon, a Northern Lapwing (only saw by Falk Eagle-Eye) and a group of 7 Black-Faced Spoonbills.

View of the shrimps ponds

The weather for the first afternoon (5th November) was hot and dry with little cloud cover. The following morning’s birding was done in more overcast conditions, though it was still warm and the sun came out later on in the morning.

Amur Falcon spotted at 6 am along the dyke. A lifer for all of us, except Falk

The first day’s birding focused on areas of mangrove, separated by bunds supporting mixed grasses and scrub. The second day was done along the mudflats and in the stands of Casuarina on Con Luu island.
Other species recorded included the usual menagerie of waders, ducks and two gull species (Black-Headed and Heuglin’s). Combing through the Casuarina pine stands produced Grey Nightjar and several forest species including Large Hawk Cuckoo and Chinese Blackbird. Various small flycatchers and/or warblers were seen flitting in and out of the Casuarina but the dense stands prevented any good views.
Black-faced Spoonbills, one of the most wanted birds at Xuan Thuy

Several raptors were seen during the trip including Eastern Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Japanese Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon.

A group of Black-tailed Godwits
At the end of the trip, we bumped into this leucistic Black-tailed Godwit
Our guide for the weekend, Truong, had also recorded two Oriental Scops Owl and an Orange-Headed Thrush two weeks ago.
From left to right : Truong (NP staff), Daniel, Falk, Matt

A Large Hawk Cuckoo flushed in a Casuarina stand at Con Luu island

Group of adults Heuglin’s Gulls

All in all a worthwhile trip with some good records though the wader numbers seemed to be low and there were no diving ducks. Thankfully, Xuan Thuy is sufficiently isolated and so there are no screaming hordes of Vietnamese students to contend with, only fishermen and their dogs. Though the latter are probably more threatening to the future of this National Park.
Adult Heuglin’s Gull

1st winter Heuglin’s Gull (for large gulls ID, good link here)

Intertidal mudflats and mangroves at Con Luu island

Wood hut of local fishermen. Fishing and shellfish harvesting
within the park boundaries are not prohibited...

"Chim này la chim gì ? To quá nhỉ ? Chắc là ăn nó rất ngon"

A huge thank you to Tien for organizing this trip and to Truong for being a very good guide and showing the group some good birding spots.
Participants : Falk Wicker, Sebastien Delonglée (photos), Matt and me, Daniel Willcox


  1. Sounds like a great trip guys. Next time...


  2. Nice, thanks for the pics and well done with the Faclon!
    Wasn't Richard also going to XT this automn? Any good birds seen, Richard?

  3. Very nice report and great pics!
    Thanks for the great company!

  4. Hi Florian, Minh & I went a couple of weeks ago. It was quieter than previous mid-October visits with much smaller numbers of waders and migrants - even the numbers of Black Dongos passing through Con Lu were only in the hundreds rather than the usual thousands! Two BF Spoonbills had arrived at the shrimp ponds by then. Among the migrants on Con Lu were the very confiding pair of Oriental Scops Owls and several weary Orange-headed Thrushes as mentioned in the blog report from the Hanoi boys. The whole area is changing rapidly though and there were cranes (no, not the ones with wings unfortunately) and diggers everywhere dredging and building dykes. Off to Can Gio for the morning tomorrow with Jonathan and Hanno & Ha to see if that Spoonie is still about. Cheers for now, Richard

  5. Salut Sebastien,
    Mon mail à ton @ n'est pas passé alors je reproduis mon message :

    je t'ai répondu sur mon blog ornithonline.

    qu'est ce que tu fais au Vietnam ?
    C'est vraiment un super bled que j'ai apprécié malgré le peu de temps que j'y suis resté, seulement 3 semaines et bien que j'étais tres pris par le travail.
    mais il faut dire que j'y suis allé à une bonne période au niveau du temps et en fin d'année l'ambiance était très sympa.
    Je regrette juste de ne pas avoir fais plus d'ornitho et de ne pas avoir pu voyager au dela de Ho Chi minh par manque de temps.

    @ plus


  6. Good luck with the Spooner and cheers to Hanno+Ha!