Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

2 February 2012

Hanoi Botanical Gardens - 02/02/2012

A short noon stroll at the Botanical Gardens produced two interesting birds, and both turned out to be patch ticks. The first one was a raptor, an accipiter-type, that sat in a tree for 5 minutes allowing me to get some pictures, good enough I think to clinch the ID. It was indifferent to the humans around, so I presume it was in the park for quite a while. A newly arrival bird should have been much more skittish.
I think it is a female Besra; but not sure at all :(
Any comments on those pictures gratefully received !

Its throat showed a mesial stripe.
The sparrowhawk was observing attentively the ground and didn't pay much attention to the flocks of Red-wiskered Bulbuls hanging around. I had confirmation of its culinary preferences 15 minutes later. I sat in a coffee shop, 50 meters from the tree, and started talking with the owner who is interesting by birds and know me. He had noticed the raptor (he called it "chim cat" = falcon) for a week already, and just the day before, he saw it catching a rat right in front of him !

The second tick was a Flowerpecker. I heard a sharp tsik...tsik and thought it was a Scarlet-backed, a species I encounter from time to time in the park. But I was surprised to spot through the bins a male Fire-breasted, a bird I didn't expect to see here !


PS : This winter, in this park, I haven't seen a single Thrush yet ! Last year, I remember, we had here some crazy days with 4-5 species at the same time. That's quite strange isn't it ?


  1. Hi Seb,

    Interesting ticks indeed. I first thought of the possibility of Japanese Sparrowhawk but you're right - seems to be a Besra.

    It's not known to be a migrant. However, the current weather conditions may have played its part. Then again I always found Besra to be really shy and not very approachable.

    Maybe this bird is an escape. The fact that it lingers at this spot for a while might be an indicator as well. After all, Bot. Gardens are not exactly a common destination for visiting migrating / wintering raptors.

    Interesting about the flowerpecker as well. All avoiding the miserable weather...


  2. Hi Falk,

    I just added a new pic taken today 3rd February which, I think, will confirm that it is a Besra, a female immature : upperparts fringed buff (not really obvious in the pic - problem of pixel resolution ! - but obvious through the bins), dark mesial streak, combinaison of black breast-streaks and broad rufous-chesnut bars on belly.

    I also added a crap pic of the tail.Given that this bird shows no suspicious signs of feather wear I presume that it is a genuine one.

    This guy is exploiting the pigeon area (the island), because the seeds attract all the sparrows of the park ! I stayed one hour and half at noon and I spotted 4-5 swift attacks on sparrows and Red-wiskered Bulbuls (big flocks on fruit trees in the same area). I saw also a male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, so 2 species of Flowerpeckers in the park now.

    Concerning the fact this sparrowhawk accept the presence of humans, I think the park has shown us many similar examples. I can not remember the number of flycatchers or thrushes I have photographed just from 5 meters away - sometimes less ! I just can not imagine the same scene in the forest.
    Why do the birds become so confident after a while living in the park, I do not know. Maybe it is just because that's only the less fearful individuals which stay here.