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18 March 2013

Cuc Phuong N.P. Birding - March 7th to 11th

Hey birders and nature lovers.  This last week I spent about 4 days birding Cuc Phuong N.P. while taking a few days off from my volunteer bird surveying work at Xuan Lien Nature Reserve in Than Hoa province.

I am not much of a photographer I'm afraid, but I do record a lot of bird sounds.  I was with my buddy Nick Boyd who also works with me at Xuan Lien.  Both of us are very good at identifying birds in the area by sound so we came up with a pretty decent bird list.

The birding is rather different at Cuc Phuong, compared to Xuan Lien, in many respects.  Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in the country and has 'relatively' good forest protection which means that there is still a good amount of large primary forest with many canopy trees.  There is a lot of bird sound at Cuc Phuong.  The forest at Cuc Phuong is also mostly on Limestone rock, where as Xuan Lien is pretty well a clay-type soil base and there can be hoards of leeches to worry about at Xuan Lien, whereas we encountered NO leeches whatsoever at Cuc Phuong!!!  That was a welcome relief!

I cannot be certain about any records or highlights, but the following are a list of birds that I think might be good for that site.

Could someone please pass along a checklist of the birds of the park to the following email address: uofgtwitcher@msn.com

Chestnut Bulbul - heard from Park Centre (20km in on the main road).

Chestnut-crowned Warbler (March 8th)- in a bird flock along a smaller limestone ridge along the western side of the Ancient Tree Trail (one of the larger trails on your left side, not far a drive from the main gate).  This was of the northern subspecies which Robson does not illustrate... nor give much of a written account of... Robson! Sebastian Delonglee has a photo of such a bird from his recent trip to Sapa.  This bird was recorded below 200m elev. which is well below the known range of elevation for this species in Vietnam as far as we are aware.  We were quite pleased by this sighting!  Can anyone shed light as to whether the species has been recorded from Cuc Phuong before?

Slender-billed Oriole (March 10th)- I have a few fairly crumby, dark photos which show this birds bill shape/size relative to head. It was encountered in a large canopy flock along the main road between the restaurant and sleeping area at the Park Centre.  We found the flock, and the bird, again after breakfast about 45min. later inside what we are calling the 'trail matrix', or network of trails inside that good forest just behind the restaurant area.  We were also wondering if there are records of this bird for the park.

Maroon Oriole ssp. nigellicauda (March 10th) - the red ssp. of Maroon Oriole was seen and recorded singing in the same canopy flock as mentioned above.

Eared Pitta - I unknownly recorded what appears to be a subsong of this species on one of the evenings, near the main gate. No, I won't count this as a lifer ;)

Blue-rumped Pitta (March 11th)- some quick, but nice looks at a bird near the main gate.  Two birds were heard calling in this area.

Indochinese Cuckooshrike (March 10th)- several, alongside several Black-winged Cuckooshrikes, in the same 'mega'(?) canopy flock as mentioned previously.

Russet Bush-Warbler (March 11th)- 1 found singing along main road in low shrubby area, a few hundred meters from main gate.  Very interesting song, which was hard even to identify as a bird at first.  I was unable to record the song, except by background noise on some iPhone video, so hopefully I can find a way to pull it off there someday and put it on Xeno-Canto.

Silver Pheasant (March 10th)- 2 female pheasants were flushed up by Nick near the end of the Ancient Tree Loop Trail in the valley bottom.

I think that these are all of the highlights.  We recorded a total of no less than 95 species which, again, I think is quite good for that amount of time.  We had a few big misses which I intend to go back for in about a weeks time.

Andrew Keaveney
Toronto, Canada
(Currently Xuan Lien, Than Hoa, Vietnam)


  1. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for sharing your sightings with us!


  2. Hi Andrew,
    thanks a lot for the post!

    Xuan Lien Nature Resererve is not really on the birding map of Vietnam so far. So it would be interesting to hear a bit more about this place! Perhaps you could share some info about birds there, also some practical info would be nice (is it possible for tourists to visit, how to get there, where to stay...). Would make a nice post here ;)

    Best, Florian