Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

31 December 2011

Flock of Northern Lapwings - Hanoi

Today (31th December), a flock of around 30 Northern Lapwings along the Red River. I first saw them on tilled land.
This species is probably not as scarce as we think. In winter, how many guys go birding in the north Vietnam agricultural plain ?...


26 December 2011

Fujian Niltava - Botanical Garden/Hanoi

An early morning walk (26th December) at the Botanical Garden produced a nice surprise in the shape of a female Fujian Niltava. If my memory serves me correctly, we didn't spot this species in our Hanoian parks last winter. But during the winter of 2009-2010, one male have overwintered at the Bot. Garden; and an another one at Lenin Park.

Otherwise the park was very quiet. Not a single Thrush !

This bird was perched at mid-storey level and often droped down to the ground like a small Thrush to pick up invertebrates; sometimes caught preys on trunks also. Hard work with this big worm ; it cut it piece by piece, and finished it on a branch. A robust appetite !

The best I could get of the the blue-neck patch.

25 December 2011

Red River Island - Hanoi 25/12/2011

Short noon stroll at the woodland of the Red River Island produced few birds - most notably :

- 1 Barn Owl
- 1 Thick-billed Warbler
- 1 Bradypterus Bush Warbler (with spotted throat. B. thoracicus? )
- 1 Rufous-tailed Robin


24 December 2011

Grass Owl - 3rd breeding site

Hi all,

I'm not particularly looking for Grass Owls, but when I come across a suitable habitat, I cannot but explore it ! So an another breeding site, not far from the two other ones. Five chicks at different ages; the youngest is considerably smaller and seems undernourished. If I refer to this "guide to ageing young Barn Owls" (link), I estimate them as being 25-30 days old (they cannot stand yet and rest on their tarsi).

This nest needs to be monitored. It is located 100-150m from fields of Jícama or "yam bean" - cây củ đậu, a very easy way to get food from poor soil -, and when I was there, farmers were burning the grasses and thickets to expand their plots.
Recently, I have discovered that all the area of the first breeding site has been burned ! This practise seems to be frequent there. Sure it helps to prevent encroachment of woody vegetation (this is not the goal of course), but the problem is that it is completely uncontrolled. They want to clean one or two hectares but they burn two or three times this surface. Very sad for this pair...

Next weekend, I'll go back to this new site. Come with me, guys ! Let's hope we will not have a bad surprise...

Merry Christmas to all

20 December 2011

A Jerdon's Baza for Christmas

Hi all,

Great lunch-hour birding (20th December) at my favourite patch (i.e. the small wooded area of the Red River Island), with a Jerdon's Baza which offered me much better views than 2 months ago.

In the north part of this area (the most wooded), I flushed a mid-sized raptor. I put my bins on it one second, enough to see its broad rounded wings, pale underparts, broad rufous bars on belly. I thought immediately : Jerdon's Baza !... but not 100% sure ! Thirty minutes later, I came back and was happy to see it again, almost at the same place. After a few shots it flew off and began to circle over the trees.
Other interesting guys I saw : 1 nice male Rubythroat, 1 Thick-billed Warbler, 1 Manchurian Bush Warbler.

The long erectile crest is well visible on this pic

Do you have some informations about the status of the Jerdon's Baza in Vietnam ? In my Robson (2005), it's written : Resident in East Tonkin, N/S Annam, Cochinchina. No mention of Passage migrant or Winter visitor. Curious, isn't it ?
The birds we saw at Hanoi are vagrants ? Migrants ? Have you ever spotted this species at Cuc Phuong, Tam Dao... during the migration period or in summer ?

18 December 2011

Cuu Thac - Tu Son / 17-12-2011

Scarlet Minivet male

A solo motorbike trip to Cuu Thac - Tu Son. I found again the elusive "Indiana Jones trail". According to local people, it leads to a pass which marks the entrance of Thuong Tiên Natural Reserve (4 hours walk from the car park - we can add one hour for us). The trail is great. It follows the river and offers unobstructed views of the forest which, you can imagine, get better and better as we climb. I didn't found any kind of forest which we could call "relatively untouched" ; I just saw secondary-growth, but with more and more massive trees. Very promising !
Birds I saw :

-Golden, Grey-throated, Buff-breasted, Spot-necked Babblers
-a lone Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler exploring the trunk folds of a banana tree
- a Green Magpie heard and seen (just a glimpse as usual) around the... VIP restaurant. My 3rd observation of this bird, but each time I cannot clinch the ID between Indochinese/Common. Very frustrating. They can share the same habitat, can't they ?
-Many Silver-eared Mesias often in mixed-species foraging flocks with Golden/Grey-throated Babblers, White-bellied Yuhinas
-2 males Fujian Niltava
-1 Blue-winged Minla
-1 male Black-throated Sunbird, spotted at 1m50 (!), attracted by pishing (an another bird easily attracted is the Buff-breasted Babbler, a good candidate for the price of "the most curious guy of the forest" !)
- 2 Seicercus Warblers, many Yellow-browed Warblers, Puff-throated Bulbuls, some Slaty-backed Forktails, 1 White-capped Water Redstart, a flock of Japanese Thrushes, Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, mouhoti Ashy Drongos, Scarlet Minivets...

Scarlet Minivet female

14 December 2011

Pitta, TamDao NP HQ, 10-12-2011

Hi all,

A colleague of mine saved a bird that trapped itself inside a bike shed - the bird appeared to be in good condition and was released.

This happened right next to the National Park Head quarters, and the bird turned out to be a pitta!
My colleague took two pics (of not so great quality) - first thoughts were, Blue-rumped Pitta. But then again, it looks very warm brown around the head. A very late this year's Blue-rumped Pitta or Rusty-naped?
What do you think?


11 December 2011

Red River Island, 11-12-2011

Hi all,

A very short visit to the island produced only few birds - most notably,

- 3 Citrine Wagtails
- 2 Manchurian Bush Warblers (1 bird very showy)
- 1 Black-shouldered Kite
- a few Temminck's Stints
- 1 Siberian Rubythroat
- a couple of Dusky and Y-browed Warblers
- 5 Siberian Stonechats

I find it amazing that there still are plenty of both White-rumped and Scaly-breasted Munias, given the hunting pressure...


10 December 2011

Late Mugimaki Flycatcher - Hanoi

Spotted this Mugimaki Flycatcher as I was drinking coffee near West Lake. This bird is interesting for two reasons. First, it is a late migrant. Second, it is a 1st winter male (my first sighting). It looked mostly like a female but : greyer overall impression especially head(conspicuous in the two first photos, taken from a short distance), brighter orange breast-throat, white supercilium behind the eye (still faint compared to the male adult, but distinct), tail with white base.

Sorry for the pictures quality, but it is winter here now (the ones who live or have lived here will understand...).


9 December 2011

Grass Owl - New breeding site

Prospected recently a new site along the Red River, ca 15 km west of the center of Hanoi in search of owls. Fantastic area, 150-200 ha of completely unexploited open habitats (pioneer vegetation on sand, seasonally flooded grasslands +/- dense), not even grazed. Wildland !

Found again a breeding pair of Grass Owls and a nest with 6 eggs, ca 5-6 km from the first one.
The breeding site - Nest (eggs visible) in the left angle (bottom).


5 December 2011

Waders near Lien Trung - Hanoi

Behind the brickworks is an open area with some seasonal cultivation on the shore of the Red river and some sandy area’s with in the river a big sandy island. link A group of 120 Spotted Redshanks and 15 Greenshanks were at the river bank. When they were flushed, they flew to the sandy island where another big group (50?) of waders were (too far to identify) and some 150 Grey Herons.
Other birds in the area: 5 Common Sandpiper, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 1 male Kestrel, 12 White Wagtail, 2 Paddyfield Pipit, 1 Plain Prinia, 1 Zitting Cisticola.

3 December 2011

Cuu Thac - Tu Son / 3-12-2011

Hi all,

One Saturday at Cuu Thac - Tu Son/Hoa Binh province with non-birder friends. We spotted some of the good birds you saw last week, and some news species.
The most notable of them were 1 Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler, two flocks of Coral-billed Scimitar-Babblers, 1 probable Collared Treepie, and 1 flock of 4-5 Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbills (seen last summer but not ID with certainty. I don't have the Robson in my head like you so I didn't concentrate on the good features at this time and the confusion with the Greater was possible).
We spent one hour along the stream trying to photograph the White-capped Water Redstart - a gorgeous bird !- and its friends : Plumbeous Water Redstart and Slaty-backed Forktail, the last one not easy at all.


Sebastien Delonglee & friends

WCWR feeding on treefruit

Video/choose settings 720p please

2 December 2011

Tam Dao NP HQ, 2-12-2011

Hi all,

More and more birds seem to move down from the higher elevations. Lots of birds around at the moment, though nothing cheerfully exciting.
Best birds lately,

- 1 female Fujian Niltava
- the group of Greater and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush continues to linger around
- a big flock of Chinese Blackbirds feeding on figs
- a residential Blue Whistling Thrush whistling away
- a couple of very approachable Pale-footed Bush Warblers
- one bush warbler that was seen very briefly could have been a Russet Bush Warbler