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

26 December 2013

Downtown Hanoi : Thrush number 13

I sent my Christmas Lifer wish list to Santa Claus and he heard me! This Chinese Thrush spotted the 25th December at the Botanical Gardens is a great birding gift. 

A lifer, a patch tick and the 13th species of trushes (of the genera Turdus, Zoothera, Myophonus, Monticola) being observed in the two largest city's public parks. The other species are Chinese Blackbird, Pale (1st for Vietnam, Feb. 2011), Japanese, Grey-backed, Black-breasted, Eyebrowed, Siberian, Scaly, Orange-headed Thrushes, Blue Whistling-Thrush, White throated & Blue Rock-Thrushes (the latter mainly observed on buildings, not parks).

A rather bulky thrush, olivey-brown above and heavily-spotted below with a very prominent dark crescent to the rear of the ear coverts. I found it rather inconspicuous, often remaining motionless.

The Chinese Thrush is described as "uncommon to locally common" by Clement and Hathway (2000) within its limited range - central China. Apparently it is a partial migrant, with northern populations moving furthest south. I haven’t much information about its status in Vietnam, but it seems to be a rare and irregular winter visitor (or more likely just undetected because in small numbers), with a very few records (in East Tonkin).


23 December 2013

Birding Hanoi: Sun & Thrushes

Last week, we've been spoiled by one week of glorious sunny weather, the kind that makes it hard to stay inside and work. It has been associated with a major cold front with North wind that brings in lots of migrants, the most obvious of them were Thrushes with many flocks seen. Definitely a winter Thrush!
Noon photo strolls at the Botanical Gardens produced a normal winter selection of species including : Japanese, Scaly & Grey-backed Thrushes, Chinese Blackbird, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Yellow-browed & Dusky Warblers, Red-Flanked Bluetail, Olive-backed Pipit, Fujian Niltava, Chestnut-flanked White-eye. 

Along the Red River, in agricultural/scrubby and wooded areas, I added the following winter visitors/late migrants (2 afternoon visits): Eurasian Woodcock, Taiga & Asian Brown Flycatchers, Black-capped Kingfisher, Hoopoe, Citrine Wagtail, small flocks of Light-vented & Black Bulbuls, Daurian Redstart, Bianchi’s Warbler (seen and heard, call recorded. Not a Seicercus sp. this time), Brownish-flanked & Manchurian Bush Warblers (call of the former also recorded), Sibe Stonechat & Grey Bushchat, Siberian Rubythroat, Eastern Marsh and Pied Harriers, Common Kestrel, Brown Shrike, and 2 non-migratory but interesting species (for the city): Masked Laughingthrush (at least 2 individuals together) and Puff-throated Babbler.
I spent half of my time in my hide, which explains this quite short species list.

I forgot : I also bumped into a Leopard Cat. This is my 3rd sightings of this species (2 + 2+ 1 individuals) along the Red River at Hanoi, in dense reed beds/scrubby areas, at 2 different sites.
I am convinced that these cats are highly adaptable, occurring in a wide range of habitats (not only forests), provided that we leave them in peace.

Here photos taken at Botanical Gardens:

 Chestnut-flanked White-eye after the bath

 Female Red-flanked Bluetail

 Female Fujian Niltava

 Deluxe perch

 Male Fujian Niltava

A Striped Squirrel – probably the Eastern Striped Squirrel (Tamiops maritimus).
Its presence in the park is strange (released?). Nice little fellow, it changes the usual Pallas's Squirrels. 

Here photos taken along the Red River:

 Black-shouldered Kite - resident.

 A male Eastern Marsh Harrier taken to task by a Kestrel - quite a size difference!

 Male Pied Harrier

Hoopoe - a regular but uncommon passage migrant in autumn and spring at Hanoi, I do not remember having seen one in winter

 Masked Laughingthrush - 2 seen

 A late Black-capped Kingfisher - as Hoopoe, more likely observed in autumn and spring at Hanoi.

 Puff-throated Babblermy first Babbler within the City limits

 Bush Warblers are photographers nightmares. You can locate them all by call, but seeing and photographing them is another issue. I was lucky with this Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler.

 Just half lucky with this Manchurian Bush Warbler.

Male Siberian Rubythroat. Also a ground-dwelling skulker (but not a mega one like the Bush Warblers). It is also much less nervous about coming out in the open – it helps the photographer.

 Female Japanese Thrush

Scrutizing the ground...

 Scaly Thrush - a personal favorite

Merry Christmas and a Bird-filled 2014 for everybody!