Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

29 March 2012

Lenin Park - Hanoi

Hi all,

Recent sightings of migrants in the park (near the northern gate) :

- 1 Orange-headed Thrush
- 1 Seicercus sp
- 1 Verditer Flycatcher
- 2-3 Hill/Chinese Blue Flycatchers
- 1 male Mugimaki Flycatcher
- 1 male Hainan Blue Flycatcher
- 1 Manchurian Bush-warbler (heard)
- 2 Black-naped Monarchs
- some Grey-capped Greenfinches
- 1 Spot-necked Babbler (not a migrant of course!)

Spotted this nice male Mugimaki Flycatcher last Sunday with John Parr and his family. Probably a one day bird, no recent sighting.

Noisy and nervous Spot-necked Babbler seen this morning (29th March). Obviously "escapee" is everyone's first thought. But I think it's too easy to put every "incongruous sighting" in the category "escaped" (or "released", but it is much harder to imagine, here !) . In any case a great looking bird !

How many captive Black-throated Laughingthrushes at Hanoi ? Hundreds, more probably thousands ? But how many sightings of this species in the 2 main Hanoian's parks ? For me it is very simple : not a single one. I could say the same thing about other common "cage birds" : Mynas, White-crested Laughingthrush, Hwamei (only 2 sightings in two years)... Have you ever seen a single Spot-necked Babbler in a cage here ?... Just to say there is higher probability that it is a genuine vagrant, even if it is hard to believe. Just my opinion!

Male Black-naped Monarch

Verditer Flycatcher


27 March 2012

Red River Island - Hanoi

Did the wooded area of the Red river Island at noon today. Few birds but good ones : 1 Brown-breasted Flycatcher, at least 5 "Blyth's Leaf Warblers" and a supposed Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler.

The Brown-breasted Flycacher is (with the Brown-chested Jungle Fly, the Ferruginous Fly and the Narcissus/Green-backed Flys) one of the best flycatchers we can hope to encounter in our Hanoi’s patches. This is the 4th sighting (by us) of this species here - the other three ones : end of August 2010 (Botanical Garden), mid-September 2010 (Lenin Park) and mid-October 2010 (Red river Island). Maybe our predecessors have spotted some also, I have no information.

I spotted those "Blyth's Leaf Warblers" at head height, and sometimes they were foraging a few dozen of cm over the ground, usually creeping up dead trunks and branches. A check of information on web sites once home confirms this special feeding behaviour likened to be rather tit-like.

Well-marked central crown stripe - more defined at the rear, and two obvious wingbars.

Blyth's has recently been split into 3 very similar species : P. reguloides (Blyth's Leaf-Warbler), P. claudiae (Claudia's Warbler) and P. goodsoni (Hartert's Leaf-Warbler), and it seems pretty difficult (impossible ?...) to assign a bird in the field to one or other of these species. Anyone want to try with those photos ? :)

This Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler (tell me if I am wrong) gave me poor views - so bad shots, but I was happy to get any look at this mega-skulker.
This guy was uniformly rufescent-brown above with a whitish supercilium, and light yellowish-brown below, paler on the centre of the throat and belly. Legs were pinkish-brown, the tail rather short. Its call was a harsh “churr-churr”, repeated persistently.


26 March 2012

Tam Dao Water tank road, 26-3-2012

Hi all,

An all too short morning stroll along the Water tank road produced quite a few birds, although nothing unusual.

Birds noted were,
a few flocks of Striated (Indochinese) Yuhina, 3 different flocks of Grey Laughingthrushes, 2 singing Black-throated Laughingthrushes, 1 each Golden-fronted and Great Barbet calling, 2 White-browed Shrike Babblers, a few Chestnut and Black Bulbuls, 3 Spot-necked Babblers, Streak-breasted and White-browed Scimitar-babblers calling, 2 unknown treepies calling, 2 or 3 Pale-footed Bush Warblers, 1 Grey Bushchat.
Quite alright for only 1 hour of birding - we have definitely seen worse, right Simon?!
However, my nemesis bird remains Short-tailed Parrotbill...


24 March 2012

Lenin Park

A stroll around the patch this morning revealed two new interesting guys : 1 Manchurian Bush-warbler and 1 Pallas's Leaf Warbler.

Pallas's Leaf Warbler. You can see the yellow rump in the photo above

Manchurian Bush-warbler

This skulker is a photographer's nightmare. What makes life really frustrating is that it is a rather common winter visitor but it impossible to get a clean view (leave alone a clean shot). First, I heard its distinctive rattling call (trrrt... trrrt). I followed it - it was on the ground, invisible - and suddenly it emerged for a few seconds, before disappearing for good.
I am rather satisfied by those photos, I know such occasions don't happen everyday !

The same female Cyornis flycatcher than yesterday. Do you confirm the ID : Chinese Blue or not ?

She found a boyfriend during the night. The handsome guy below was not here yesterday, and they were flying almost `wing in wing` this morning :)

Do you know some key features that can be used to separate males Hill Blue and Chinese Blue ? (I have `The Robson` edition... 2005)


23 March 2012

Little gems - Hanoi

The spring migration of Flycatchers is now well underway. Recently, in the Hanoian’s patches (city parks and Red River Island), I have seen a nice selection of those colorful little buggers including Asian Brown, Taiga, Hill Blue, (supposed) Chinese Blue, Verditer, Hainan Blue, Grey-Headed Canary, but also Black-napped Monarch...
Some photos taken this week during noon strolls :

Asian Brown Flycatcher (Botanical Garden)

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher (Lenin Park / 5-6 together)

Male Hill Blue Flycatcher (Red River Island)

I picked up this female Cyornis flycatcher at the Lenin Park. First, I have been surprised by its warm brown upperparts, and its rusty tail. I took the photo above but I wasn't satisfied so I came back 2 or 3 times to get better shots.
Not a easy job, this guy was very skittish and was always foraging on or near the ground, in shrubs and piles of dead wood (near the northern entrance of the park, actually the last good birding area there - the other ones have been `cleaned up`, the famous `mozzy corner` included...). Never spotted a flycatcher with such secretive behavior ! Fortunately, its frequent sharp "tak" calls helped me to locate it.

I believe this bird is a Chinese Blue Flycatcher, due to the strongly orange breast with contrasting pale throat.

The orange is not restricted to the breast and extending onto the flanks. Look at the tail : rusty/rufescent

Curiously, the forehead/lores are also orange-tinted

A cracking male Black-napped Monarch (Red River Island)

Male Hainan Blue Flycatcher (Red River Island)

Female Hainan Blue Flycatcher (Red River Island)

Eastern Crowned Warbler (Red River Island)

Seicercus Warbler (Grey-crowned ?) - Red River Island

Red River Island : a juv Pied Harrier comes and goes above the small wooded area where I am chasing Flycatchers, apparently also in search of something, I don't know what.


A bit of migration, Tam Dao

Hi all,

A nice flock of Red-rumped Swallows and Brown-backed Needletails was seen over TD NP HQ on Tuesday. A few Grey-faced Buzzards were mixed in, too.

A few Verditer Flycatchers were coming through, and the resident Crested Serpent Eagles as well as Besras were seen displaying.

Spring is in the air.


22 March 2012

Trapped in my garden tonight

When I got home tonight, I saw this little guy scurry across the fence-line, inside my yard. He got hooked up when trying to get through the hole in the fence. After a quick photo, it was quickly released at the side stream, nearby. A Slaty-legged Crake, if I am not mistaken, and a new species for me, right in my Hanoi yard.

Wayne Hodgkinson

18 March 2012

Birding the tomato fields! - Hanoi

Yesterday afternoon I managed to snatch a couple of hours birding around the Hanoi's flower and apricot village of Nhat Tan, which is famous for producing kumquat trees for Tet. I spotted all the 'usual suspects' we encounter at this period of the year in the cultivation.

The most interesting areas were not the kumquat gardens but the tomato fields! I have noticed for a while that those plots provide interesting habitat for some passerine birds, especially when the rows are not well kept (few chemical treatments), thus facilitating the development of weeds. For example, two skulkers, the Siberian Rubythroat and the Bluethroat, often forage in or around those fields.
Star bird of the day was Black-faced Bunting, the second time I have spotted this species in the area, with previous sighting also in March.

Two blurred shots of a stunning male in full breeding plumage

Very skittish bird

This one should have been the best of the serie, but...

An another male, perched on stick with grey skybackground - the usual winter atmosphere here...

The whitish throat and whitish submoustachial stripe makes me think it is a 1st winter bird.

Also a supposed young male, with an obvious dark malar line and a less greyish breast

The 2 external rectrices are white.

This little brown jobbie was skulking slowly on the ground. I didn't found any key features to clinch the ID. Yellowish legs, buffy supercilium, blackish eyestripe, buffy flanks-wash. Any ideas ? A Bush Warbler (?) but which one...

Funny Prinias... (Yellow-bellied above, Plain bellow)