Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

31 January 2012

Agricultural fields - Hanoi

Noon photo stroll at the Red River Island - I focused on the cultivation - produced some interesting birds, the "highlights" being :

- 1 flock of 15-20 Grey-capped Greenfinches
- 1 Siberian Rubythroat male
- 1 Bluethroat male
- 1 Pied Harrier male
- 1 Wryneck
- 1 flock of 3-4 Little Buntings in a dry corn field - almost at the same place we saw some individuals in March 2011
Those pics of Bluethroat could have been good... Unfortunately, in the morning, I tested the highest ISO settings of my camera (which is a "bridge", not a DSLR) and I forgot... to change them before going in the field. Those 2 photos suffering a common malady, called "High ISO noise".
Big deception because this guy was not skittish at all, and allowed me to approach less than 10 meters.
With its solid blue/black/red throat/brest, this male is still in breeding plumage. It's quite strange, we are in January !

Grey-capped Greenfinch - In flock, easily identifiable by their twittering call

A Plain Prinia... yeahh

A stunning butterfly flying in the cold air of the terrible Hanoi's winter

A tiny orchid found at the edge of the woodland. Is there a botanist among us ?


29 January 2012

Hanoi Botanical Gardens

I quick walk around this morning with the little guy with only the usual sparrows, magpie-robins, ground pipits, fantails and tailor-birds. I saw the guys in the images below, as I was walking out, which saved my morning.

The blurry images of the first bird showed purple on the side neck (which I did not notice in the field (no bins), so a female Fujian Niltava. I did not make out any neck colouring at all on the bird in the second image. It took me about 8 more hours to realize that it is (I think) the same species - I think we may have two female Fujian Niltava in the HBG.


28 January 2012

Return to Cuu Thac - Tu Son

Tu Son was fun, and there were a lot of birds about, but we were fogged in. At one point we had a group of Babblers 3m in front of us, and could not make out more than silhouettes. Their call sounded very similar to my tape of a Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler and they responded to that call when played, but then with a different call – we will never know. Later we could clearly make out the silhouettes of a group of what looked like Laughing-thrushes (although their posture did appear to be more upright, and they weren’t laughing) from about 10m. I clearly saw a cuckoo (too large to be a plaintive) when we left, but couldn't identify it. The only new bird for me was what I identified as a Large Cuckoo-shrike. We did finally find the Indiana Jones trial though! As we clearly identified so few species, I have listed them all:

• Bulbul, Sooty-headed
• Bulbul (Alophoi sp.)
• Cuckoo-shrike, Large
• Cuckoo, unidentified
• Flycatcher, Grey-headed canary
• Flycatcher, Verditer
• Forktail, Slaty-backed
• Forktail, White-crowned
• Minivet, Scarlet
• Water Redstart, White-capped
• Sunbird, unidentified
• Wagtail, Grey
• Warbler (Seicercus sp.)

John Haug, Richard Buckner & Wayne Hodgkinson

Verditer Flycatcher

Scarlet Minivet

Sooty-headed Bulbul

Arghhh - the fog...

22 January 2012

Photo hide - Red River Island

Some hours in a photo blind during the last sunny days produced some good opportunities for nice shots.

Common Snipe

Pied Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher

Spotted Dove
Common Sandpiper
Very smart White Wagtail


17 January 2012

Kentish Plover rescued at Đáy river mouth

Hi all,

Last Sunday, I accompanied Mr. Trải and Mr. Trường of Birdlife to a coastal commune at the very south of Nam Dinh province, where we took a boat to Cồn Thông, a sea dune at the mouth of the River Đáy. In the cold and rain, the first creature we met was this poor little guy hung on a blind net which is about 100-meter long.

I was only given a minute to take the above photo before Mr. Truong started to gently remove the bird from the net. He must have been trying very hard to escape. This much of nilon threat was tangled on his left wing.

At last, the handsome guy (or a lady, I don't know) was strembling but safe. He stayed on Truong's hands for only a minute or two, then jump out and ran and flew away.

Ha Hoang
Birdlife staff

PS. Just want to share the list of birds that we saw during the birding trip to Red River Delta. Our team consisted of Mr. Trai, Mr. Truong and me. In Xuan Thuy, we were joined by David - a very helpful volunteer.

In Thai Thuy, Thai Binh (on Jan 12, 2012)

Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Spotted Dove
Spotted Redshank (<10)
Common Redshank
Marsh Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
Green Sandpiper
Pacific Golden Plover (25)
Kentish Plover (20)
Black-headed Gull (150)
Saunders's Gull (17)
Gull-billed Tern (1)
Little Tern
Little Egret
Chinese Pond Heron
Long-tailed Shrike
Black Drongo

In Xuan Thuy National Park (on Jan 13, 2012)

Eurasian Wigeon (500)
Spot-billed Duck (350)
Northern Shoveler (250)
Northern Pintail (150)
Garganey (300)
Common Teal (250)
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Greater Coucal
Spotted Dove
Common Moorhen
Black-tailed Godwit (50)
Eurasian Curlew (15)
Eastern Curlew (13)
Common Redshank (5)
Marsh Sandpiper (25)
Common Greenshank (45)
Common Sandpiper
Grey-tailed Tattler (15)
Great Knot (<20)
Sanderling (130)
Dunlin (650)
Grey Plover (250)
Kentish Plover (850)
Herring Gull (22)
Black-headed Gull (450)
Black-shouldered Kite (1)
Eurasian Marsh Harrier (1)
Peregrine Falcon (1)
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Chinese Pond Heron
Black-faced Spoonbill (35)
Long-tailed Shrike
Black Drongo

In Nghia Hung, Nam Dinh (on Jan 14, 2012)

Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Bar-tailed Godwit (5 birds)
Eastern Curlew (5)
Common Redshank
Red-necked Stint (200)
Dunlin (150)
Spoon-billed Sandpiper (1)
Grey Plover (55)
Kentish Plover (300)
Herring Gull (15)
Black-headed Gull (150)
Saunders's Gull (5)
Little Egret
Long-tailed Shrike
Black Drongo

8 January 2012

Grass Owl - 4th breeding site

Hi all,

The circumstances of the discovery of this fourth nest (5 chicks) of Grass Owl are very special.

Indeed, this nest has been founded by local people 2 weeks ago, and they showed me the place. It’s quite a mess there. The grass has been trampled flat in many places, a “visitor-made” path lead to the nest and the chicks are completely exposed to the elements – but they are well, that’s the most important.

Another surprise was the habitat. Not dozens of hectares of treeless grasslands like in the first three breeding sites, but just a 4-5 hectares mosaic of thickets, wooded patches and dry reedbeds - so a rather closed habitat -, with some gaps of grassland created by fire (dominated by a pioneer graminoid that enter an area soon after it has been burned). Those small patches of dense grass cover are gradually colonised by reeds.
The nest is located in dense grass tussocks (80 cm high), 20 meters from trees.

The nest as I founded it. The vegetation has been trampled down by the numerous visitors
and the chicks are completely exposed

The breeding site, wedged between tall reeds and thickets.
This area has been burned 2 years ago. Fires at the correct time of year,
in controlled situations, can be very beneficial for this species, especially here where the encroachment of woody vegetation seems to be very dynamic

This small patch of grasslands is grazing by horses. But the owner -who have discovered the owls - keep them away from the nest !
Horses grazing 40m from the nest. Total incompatibility with the presence
of an owl's nest. Fortunately, the owner is a good guy

Before leaving the place, I built a new “home” for the chicks which like - and need, because of the bad weather - to be enveloped by the vegetation.

So, four nests now: 1 destroyed (by fire), 2 more or less threatened (including this one), 1 away from human activities. Probably, the Grass Owl is not as rare as we think, but one thing is sure: its habitat is subject to high - and probably increasing - human pressure (fires during the breeding season, conversion of grasslands to cultivation, overgrazing...), at least along the Red river.


1 January 2012

Photos of Grass Owl

Hi All!

With the kindly helps of Sebastien, I and Richard had great chance to see the Grass Owl on 29 Dec 11.
Particularly, I got some good shots of this beautiful bird.

Happy New Year, 2012!


Hung Le