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

24 June 2012

Cuc Phuong NP, 24-6-2012

Hi all,

A morning spent around the Loop trail at Bong Substation in Cuc Phuong produced only few exciting birds, although the morning drive started off good with at least 5 Malayan Night Herons and 2 Bar-bellied Pittas being flushed off the road.

First birds seen at the start of the Loop trail included a couple of smart Rufous-throated Fulvettas. A Chestnut-necklaced (Tonkin) Partridge was calling close by but didn't show itself. The usual suspects turned up further along the trail with plenty of Buff-breasted and Grey-throated Babblers. A few flycatchers showed up near the 1000-year-old tree, including many Black-naped Monarchs, 1 nice-looking male Asian Paradise Flycatcher, 1 female Fujian Niltava as well as 2 Hainan Blue Flycatchers. Mostly passerines were encountered during the walk but woodpeckers were heard and seen too - mainly Bay Woodpeckers and Greater Yellownapes but 1 woodpecker that was heard sounded reminiscent to Red-collared.

Just before the ancient tree a small birdwave consisted of Limestone Leaf-warbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Black-browed Fulvetta and again, Rufous-throated Fulvetta.
Towards the end of the trail a pitta-sized brown bird was flushed.

2 Yellow-bellied Warblers and a flock of Brown-backed Needletails finished off the morning's birding.

Nothing of interest was seen on the way out of the park.


22 June 2012

Nha Trang and Mui Ne (& not Dalat)

You have got to love the Vietnamese block on many web and blog sites.  While I can access our blog from Hanoi, no such joy from Nha Trang or Mui Ne, but when I used Tor Project, to hide my location, no problems at all.  The same goes for my friends Gerry's blog of Birds from Thailand and beyond, which I cannot access from Hanoi either (unless I use Tor).  Might be worth remembering, if you will be travelling around Vietnam and want to access these blogs.

For my last 2 weeks in Vietnam, I had organised 4 days in Dalat, followed by leaving the family in Mui Ne, and heading off for a Pilgrimage to Cat Tien.  For the first time, I memorized the endemics there, and their calls.  It was not to be.  Terrible weather in Dalat meant the Vietnam Airlines flights were cancelled, so a rapid change of plan was needed - Nah Trang it was.  Bugger!

I obtained a morning pass up to Yen Bay, but it was very poor birding compared to previous trips, with no birds of note, in the forests, broken scrub edges, or rivers.

A few days later driving to Mui Ne, we saw a Hoopoe, which I thought was interesting, until I saw how many there were around Mui Ne.  The other bird that interested me (as I have seen no crows in Vietnam) was a solitary crow, in Minh Chau, about 40km north of Mui Ne, which I tentatively identified as a House Crow.  I saw not one raptor so far on this trip, which is kind of strange.

I did not have high hopes of birding around Mui Ne, but have had some interesting moments.  Yesterday afternoon, like a fool I walked up the hills, in the heat, into the (almost) desert.  I saw a very large brown owl, but before I could get near enough to ID it, a group of myna ganged up and chased it away.  I kept seeing either yellow or dull coloured sunbirds in the more arid areas.  Not where I would expect to see Olive-backed sun-birds.  It took me two days until I finally saw a male and could clinch the ID.  Seems to be a real gender imbalance here, and they are not where Robson suggests.  Some plain backed sparrows took me a long time to ID as well, as I failed to see the grey strip on the top of their heads.  LOL.

This morning I was the first person up Fairy Stream.  Lots of both Chestnut-capped and Green Bee-eaters close up are always cool to see.  A juvenile Yellow-vented bulbul (I think) sat within metres of me, which was nice (image below).  Right at the top of the valley, just above the waterfall, I saw a red woodpecker.  When it flew, it presented similar colours to a Coucal, and when perched on the coconut trees, the head and back appeared uniformly coloured (at a large distance), but shading to a darker tail.  The darker bill lead me to call Rufous, rather than Bay Woodpecker.  No time for good images, and it was gone when I thought I was closer, but if anyone can confirm from the poor image below, thanks in advance.

As I write this, a very pale coloured tern, with very slender wings, and a largish bill, is working up the beach against the wind.  Terntatively, using Robson I think it is a Gull-billed tern.


13 June 2012

Birding Lo Xo, 9-6-2012

Hi all,

First things first - I missed the bloody barwing.
Minh who was with me tried his hardest (and so did I) to see the little critters but only the briefest of views were had. I saw a tail in the middle of a climber that might have belonged to the Black-crowned Barwing but certainly not tickable for me.
                                         Looking at no barwings, shitty habitat and bad weather
The weather was terrible. Wind greeted us on arrival. Not long after rain joined in. Birding was everything else but pleasant.
                                         Black Eagles scanning for food...
                                         ...including barwings?

A few other species were seen at Lo Xo, including plenty of Black-collared Starlings and Flavescent Bulbuls. Black Eagles, Crested Serpent Eagle, Jerdon's Baza, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Grey-cheeked Warbler, a possible Rufous-backed Sibia, Plumbeous Water Redstart, gazillions of Long-tailed Shrikes and White-breasted Kingfishers were seen too.
Grey-bellied Tesia, Hill Prinia and Indochinese Green Magpie were heard only.

                                         Black-collared Starling with something (not a barwing).
                                          Crappy shot but it's a Jerdon's Baza.
The day started promising with 2 Mountain Imperial Pigeons, a couple of Red-breasted Parakeets and a few Racket-tailed Treepies on our way to Kham Duc. Unfortunately, the main target didn't reveal itself but the day ended with Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and a House Sparrow in Hoi An.
                                          Blue-tailed Bee-eater near Hoi An.
Germany had won, so it wasn't too bad after all. Well, actually it was...

Huge thanks to Minh for his company, birding skills and safe driving!