Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

31 January 2013

Birds around my house

Hi all,
I have no job recently, so I try taking photo of birds around. Here are some I got few days ago.
 Scarlet Minivet

 Common Iora
 Crimson Sunbird
Racket-tailed Treepie

Bui DucTien

27 January 2013

Moustached Laughingth​rush in Hanoi

Hi all!

Just getting this Moustached Laughingthrush's photos in my garden within Hanoi 2 days ago. I have checked again yesterday but nothing there.
Can any of you give some comments on it? This bird may be an escape one but the possibility it's occurence in northern Vietnam is also high as it is recorded in south China.

Best regards!

Hung Le

23 January 2013

Slaty-backed Flycatcher / Hanoi

I finally managed to get half decent shots of this guy. It is still hanging around, 2 days after the first contact. Let's hope it will stay around for a while, like many other winterers here !
Simon (Mahood) confirmed me that it is the first record for Vietnam.

22 January 2013

Slaty-backed Flycatcher : 1st record for Vietnam?

HANOI : Yesterday (21th January), a noon stroll at the Botanical Gardens produced a good number of winterers : 1 Taiga, 1 female Rufous-gorgeted, 2-3 Asian Brown and 1 male Slaty-backed Flycatchers, 5 Japanese and 1 male Black-breasted Thrushes, 1 female Chinese Blackbird, 1 Blue Whistling Thrush, some Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers (heard), Yellow-browed and Dusky Warblers, 2 Red-Flanked Bluetails, small flocks of Olive-backed Pipits.

The highlight was this male Slaty-backed Flycatcher. When I put my bins on it, I knew immediately that it was a new species for me. Its uniform slaty upperparts, orange underparts and white tail base made it unmistakable.
Unfortunately, I just got some distant and rubbish shots :(
Without flash

With flash

In the 2009 edition of Robson this species is recorded as winter visitor in both Laos and Cambodia, but not in Vietnam. No reason why it couldn't turn up in northern Vietnam too !

female Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher

19 January 2013

Hanoi : Peregrine on winter roost

This Peregrine Falcon (race japonensis, calidus?) have taken up winter residence on a high-rise building in downtown Hanoi.

To witness this guy snatching birds above the bustling capital city is a cool sight. More than 10 attacks spotted, 5 of which successful (small passerines, among them 1 Munia sp. identified). After each attack it returns to the same ledge or another one just below.

After photographing and videoing it from the street, I finally found a solution to approach it closer. On the 19th floor, I flushed it when I suddenly appeared 40-50 meters away from its ledge. But surprisingly, only 5 minutes later, it came back around its favorite perch... but did not dare to land. Being convinced that I could not get good shots without hiding myself, I decided to leave the place and come back later with a hide. But as I was packing my photography gear, I realised that it had finally landed and was sitting `quietly` on its prefered ledge.

I moved very slowly, and amazingly it did not flew off. Fifteen minutes later it had almost completely forgot me and was concentrated on its Peregrine's job : bird hunting. I stayed one hour and witnessed 3 - unsuccessful - attacks.

A video clip of this guy. For optimal resolution, please select 480p under Change Quality settings.

17 January 2013

Ha Giang Trip - Khau Ca Nature Reserve (7 -13, Jan, 2013)

Hi all,

I planned going to Khau Ca to see Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey and birds because i have a friend working there. In those days, it was very cold, misty and rainy on mountain but we got luck in one clearly day, that we saw the monkeys and took some pictures. We waited for another day later coming back to see them again but impossible. We just stayed in tent taking picture of birds around in bad weather days. I watched only 56 species of bird on this trip such as Great Barbet, Golden-throated barbet, Chestnut-collared Yuhina, Mountain Bulbul, Yellow-breasted Bunting, White-browed Laughingthrush, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Beautiful Nuthatch, Blue-winged and Orange-bellied Leafbirds, Asian Barred Owlet, Crimson, Fork-tailed and Black-throated Sunbirds, and other stuffs.

Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey 

This species is endemic to northern Vietnam, and very rare. It was thought to be extinct until the 1990s when a small population was discovered in Na Hang District in Tuyen Quang Province. Heavy poaching for food as well as the wildlife black-market and the destruction of habitat are the main reasons why the Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey is considered to be one of "the World's 25 Most Endangered Primates".

There are estimated to be about 250 individuals throughout its known range, though the global population could actually be higher, due to the possible occurrence of this species in other areas where it has not yet been recorded. Khau Ca Nature Reserve, in Ha Giang Province, is containing its biggest population (discovered in 2002).

And some bird images

Beautiful Nuthatch

Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler

Black-throated Sunbird

Common Tailorbird

Bui Duc Tien  

12 January 2013

The Red-flanked Bluetail

A brief video clip of a wintering male Red-flanked Bluetail captured Saturday 05.01.2013 at the Botanical Gardens, Hanoi. For optimal resolution, please select 480p under Change Quality settings.
This guy seems to enjoy a lot its holidays in the city...

11 January 2013

A little brightness amid the gloom

Another cold, grey and miserable winter month. I sometimes get obsessed by the crappiness of the winter weather in Hanoi. It can be so depressing. Fortunately there are always some nice birds to brighten up the gloomy atmosphere. For example this stunning male Red-flanked Bluetail.

A little pedestrian...

I also enjoyed this week (7th -> 12th January) prolonged views of a gorgeous Scaly Thrush. What a pattern and hues this bird has ! When disturbed, it ran briefly and then stopped motionless. Very funny to watch it running instead of flying!

The camouflage is remarkable making it difficult to see even when you know it is here. Its very slow foraging behavior does not help. Other interesting facts about this species is that it prefers to walk than hop, and often patter its feet on the soil to encourage worms to the surface – I did not notice this behavior with the other Thrushes.

In the city parks Scaly Thrushes can be very tame. But in the forest, I found them skittish and difficult to approach. A really tough bird to shoot !

A bird that ends up in an inner-city park like the Botanical Gardens has 2 alternatives: get out or adapt. Adapt to a man-made environment and, above all, adapt to the presence of humans at close range. This park is packed from 6 to 9 am, 4 to 6 pm, with loud aerobic music, joggers and pedestrians everywhere... Probably not a high percentage of the individuals can accept this - only the less shy ones.
My Scaly Thrush found itself adapting. It had to become less secretive, less skittish.

For these reasons, ironically, it is sometimes much easier to shoot certain species within the city than in more natural habitats.

But my best bird of the first week of the year was this female Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, found at the Botanical Gardens. A great bird for the city.

Nice salmon bokeh! (this guy was in front of a wall, unfortunately...)

a much better background...

3 January 2013

Brambling, a VN tick to end the year

HANOI - Top news of the week was a sighting of a female type Brambling in an agricultural area around the city. Not really an exciting species for an European birder but a good bird for Vietnam. According to Robson (2005), Brambling is a (regular, rare?) vagrant in the northwestern part of the country (what we call here `West Tonkin`). A sighting in East Tonkin should be interesting.
Unfortunately the bird flew away before I could photograph it.

A bunch of shots of winterers taken recently :

Manchurian Bush-warbler
This is a true and proud bearer of the skulker label ! In the scruby areas around Hanoi sightings of this elusive and secretive bird are not uncommon, especially on passage (more likely to be detected by its call). Chance (and patience) is required to get good views - and big luck to get good pictures. Last year I managed to get half decent shots. But last week I had the opportunity to get much better images. At the edge of a pond I noticed a pile of dead branches frequenting by an individual. I just set up my hide in front of it and wait a couple of hours...

I am satisfied by these images 1/because there are not so many clean shots of Manchurian Bush-warbler on the internet; 2/ because they accurately reflect the color pattern of this species as seen in the field : light rufous-salmon crown and flight features, light buffy-salmon upperparts, pale buffy underparts, whitish throat, faint dark eyestripe, white-buffy supercilium...

Look at these legs!

Finally it stopped moving, preened and...

... seemed to pose a bit for the camera

Thanks for your collaboration little guy!

male Siberian Rubythroat
Another skulker but not a super one like the Manchurian Bush-warbler. It likes the dense undergrowth but can also be seen foraging in the open, never far from cover. Its slow foraging behavior make also photography much easier (the Manchurian Bush-warbler almost never stop moving!).

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
My best photo of this species so far (taken from a hide, like all the other shots of this post)

1st winter (buffy greater covert/tertial tips) Taiga Flycatcher
The commonest Flycatcher in/around the city in winter. Frequently spotted/heard in bushy/shrubby vegetation along field margins.

Dusky Warbler
This guy was frequenting the same pile of dead branches than the Manchurian Bush-warbler

A perky little fellow :