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

30 November 2012

Winterers/migrants downtown Hanoi

Not much birding this week (26th Nov ->2nd Dec), the weather was awful. The terrible Hanoi winter has begun : cold, wet and GREY!
At the Botanical Gardens, I flushed an Eurasian Woodcock around the toilet area ! This guy was trying to hide itself behind a tiny bush. My second sighting of a Woodcock in this park. I also picked up a male Mugimaki Flycatcher.
Most of the White-tailed Robins or Fujian Niltavas spotted least week have gone - or have been captured by... blowpipe hunters (see the last photo of this post).
The park held small flocks of Turdus thrushes. Some male Japanese Thrushes with different patterns, whilst the others, all females or first-year birds, presented a significant identification problem and were not all identified conclusively.  I did not found the solution in the guide books or on the Internet...

An adult male Japanese Thrush showing the "usual" pattern (i.e. the most encountered) with grey-blue mantle contrasting with black head

A black-backed male Japanese, with almost no contrast between head and mantle, and big black spots below (my second sighting of this pattern at Hanoi in 2 years, the other one here).
I am almost certain that this bird is coming from Northeast Asia. Japanese Thrush has different populations with plumage variations (curiously not covered in the guide books), birds breeding in China are a bit different from those breeding to the NE in Japan. 

I suspect it's a 1st cy Japanese (heavily spotted below/flanks), but the strong warm orange down the flanks make me confused.

Well-demarcated streaky rather than spotted breast, faint spotted below... I suspect it's a 1st cy Grey-backed.

female White-tailed Robin

What is that ? From this angle, ID is a bit tricky

Hm hm.. a small blue patch in the neck : female Fujian Niltava

Blue Whistling Thrush. Nice bird, but crappy background.

male Mugimaki Flycacher. Regular passage migrant here.

I spent one hour skulking around the toilet area, chasing this Rufous-tailed Robin. And if people saw me as a pervert, I don't care ! That is the price to pay for capturing close-ups of birds which are much more difficult to photograph in the forest.
It is really not too difficult to get nice shots of winterers/migrants in the urban parks because they can often allow much closer approach than the ones we encounter elsewhere.

Careful, it is slippery!

Olive-backed Pipit. Very common winterer.

We do not stop the progress ! Jivaro style hunting in the city !
They can hit a passerine at 20m - I took all my photos at less than 10m...
They do not use darts but soft balls. The objective is not to kill the bird but to stun it, and then put it in a cage.

24 November 2012

Botanical Gardens - Hanoi

Some lunchtime visits at the Botanical Gardens this week ( 19th -> 24th Nov.), my first ones of the autumn’s, produced a nice selection of migrants/winter visitors – maybe I should go there more regularly!

The highlights were 4 Fujian Niltavas (2 females, 2 males), 3 White-tailed Robins (2 males, 1 female), 1 Rufous-tailed Robin, 1 male Himalayan Bluetail, 1 Blue Whistling Thrush, 10+ Japanese Thrushes (some of them very tame, certainly not arrived one day before...), 2 skittish Chinese Blackbirds, 1 Large-billed Crow high in the canopy (patch tick # 111 / this number = Lenin Park + Bot. Garden – List here – If I forgot something, please tell me!).

Other notables included some Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers (the only species of Flys), a flock of 5-6 Silver-eared Mesias, Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers (probably resident, seen or heard all the year), my first Olive-backed Pipits of the autumn, 1 Grey Wagtail, Seicercus Warblers sp., Yellow-browed Warblers…

Many of these guys were spotted around the toilets, which remains one of the best birding spot of the city centre!

I was very happy to see again many Thrushes in the park. It reminds me this fantastic winter 2010/2011 with sometimes 6-7 species of Thrushes the same day! The winter 2011-2012 was completely disappointed with very few Thrushes seen. I hope this one will be better.

For some of the images below, suggestions/remarks of the Thrushes's experts would be very welcome!

 Female Fujian Niltava

Male Fujian Niltava

It uses the “sit and wait” tactic, dropping down onto preys on the ground from its perch.

Fujian Niltava is a regular sight at Hanoi in winter, but 4 individuals in the same place at the same time it is pretty amazing!

Rufous-tailed Robin.
An inconspiscuous species with few records in the Hanoi area (mostly in November), but likely to be under-recorded.

Male White-tailed Robin.
This species is assumed to be a montane resident, although there is evidence of some movements (not only altitudinal ones) during the non-breeding season.

Female White-tailed Robin
She appeared few seconds in a bushy corner as I was waiting for Thrushes. Shutter speed 1/10s. Even with the help of a tripod, no miracle...

Male Himalayan Bluetail 

Large-billed Crow.
It shows a perfect plumage - especially no wear on the tip of the tail - so I assume it is a genuine bird and not an escapee or released individual.

2 males Japanese Thrush : one with a strong contrast between head and mantle/wings ; the other one (below) with almost no contrast. Why such a difference between 2 full adults individuals ? Different morphs/subspecies ?

"Hmm... let's see if there is not one or two plump worms here"

 I think it is a 1st winter Japanese Thrush

Blue Whistling Thrush of the black-billed migratory race caeruleus (a possible future split). A rather common passage migrant in the Hanoi area.

A bit of video around the toilets (Flycatcher + BIG flies) :

Sébastien Delonglée

19 November 2012

Tawny Fish Owl - Cat Ba National Park /Sept. 2012

Hi all,
Apparently Tawny Fish Owl has been recorded in Cat Ba National Park only very recently. A picture was taken by a camera trap inside a langur cave (photo credits - Rick Passaro / Cat Ba Langur Conservation Programme).
Interesting record as I think.
That adds a bit of specialty to the usual crows, kites and rock thrushes.


18 November 2012

Birds for sale at Bac Ha market, Lao Cai

This is sad, but I think I should still post the photos of captured wild birds in Bac Ha market (a famous tourist place in Lao Cai province).  Some of the smaller birds are sold for VND10,000 ($0.5) each and I saw people buying them for their children to play for fun.

Ha Hoang
BirdLife Vietnam

Lots of Hwamei are also sold, but they were said to be imported from breeders in China.

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla

Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila (first winter male)

Blue-winged Minla (Khướu lùn cánh xanh) Minla cyanouroptera

Spectacled Barwing (Khướu đuôi vằn Vân Nam) Actinodura ramsayi

Four to the right: Whiskered Yuhina (Khướu mào cổ hung) Yuhina flavicollis constantiae

Black-throated Laughingthrush (Khướu bạc má) Garrulax chinensis

Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler (Mi đất ngực luốc) Pomatorhinus ruficollis

Right: Red-billed leiothrix (Kim oanh mỏ đỏ) Leiothrix lutea

Mountain Bamboo Partridge Bambusicola fytchii
Silver-eared Mesia (Kim oanh tai bạc) Leiothrix agentauris

Common Kestrel (Cắt lưng hung) Falco tinnunculus
Grey-faced Buzzard (Diều Ấn độ) Butastur indicus

Merlin (Cắt lưng xám) Falco columbarius