A great place for catching up with some of the typical birds of the dry semi-desert areas of coastal southern Vietnam is Ho Tram. Just a couple of hours by road from Saigon there's a very nice resort imaginatively called Ho Tram Beach Resort where I often go with the family for a bit of weekend R&R. Admittedly I do spend a lot of time playing on the water slides and lazing by the pool but I usually manage to tear myself away for an early morning walk or two. Over the road from the resort, a few hundred metres back from the beach the scattered trees, plantations and cultivated areas are full of birds.
In a pre-breakfast stroll last Saturday I notched up a list of 58 species including the rarely recorded Spotted Owlet (thanks to Moray Iles and his dad who'd seen it there the previous weekend for the heads-up on that one). Abundant species here include Barred Buttonquail, Red-wattled Lapwing, Red-collared Dove, Indian Roller, Little Green Bee-Eater, Hoopoe, Plain-backed Sparrow, Australasian and Indochinese bushlarks. Some of the other species seen last weekend were Rufous Treepie, Stork-billed & Collared kingfishers, Asian Golden Weaver and four species of starling. A scarce bird in Vietnam that I didn't see last weekend but have seen on previous visits to Ho Tram is Pale-capped Pigeon. Always worth keeping an eye out for that one.
In the nicely landscaped grounds of the resort typical species include Golden-bellied Gerygone, Pied Fantail, Olive-backed Sunbird, Grey-capped Greenfinch and Plain-backed Sparrow. Zebra Dove which first appeared at Ho Tram just over a year ago in January 2011 is now all over the place and obviously likes it's new home on the Vietnamese Riviera! A nice find in the resort grounds this time was a very smart male Siberian Blue Robin.