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

6 April 2014

First Paddyfield Warbler in Vietnam

Note: we have edited this post after the discussion about the Paddyfield Warbler (see also comments section)

At the morning of the 6.4.2014, Sebastien Delonglee and I (Florian Klingel) looked for birds at Red River, in the cultivations and along the channel between Hanoi and the Island, near the Sofitel

We found a rather plain Acrocephalus at one of the small ponds between Hanoi and the Red River Island. For its short white supercilium and lack of a black supercilium, and considering range information, we concluded intially that it is a Blunt-winged Reed-Warbler A. concinens. However, after consulting several experts (Thanks a lot to Phil Round, Paul J Leader and Peter Kennerley for their detailed answers, which can be read down in the comments section) we are now convinced of the bird being a Paddyfield Warbler Acrocephalus agricola. A first for Vietnam!

A thin black line above the supercilium can clearly be seen in this shot. And upper half of lower mandible appears to be blackish.

Besindes the morning with Sebastien at 6.4., I've done some more birding around Hanoi the same week:
- Two morning visits to the Botanical Gardens
- A morning at the Red River around the northern tip of the island and in the small tree plantation at Bai Da (the wedding couples photo shooting place)

The Botanical Gardens had a lot of Phyllos Warblers giving me a hard time especially after a 2 years break of visting Vietnam. The ones I could more less confidently identify were: Yellow-browed, Arctic and Pale-legged. At the Red River there were in addtion one Sulphur-breasted and a few Eastern-crowned.

The hill at the Botanical Gardens was teeming with Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, must have been at least 30 or so. Also interesting was a flock of Chestnut-flanked White-eyes. Quite a few Taiga Flycatcher were around, a single Asian Brown, a female Yellow-rumped and a nice male Blue-and-White Flycatcher at (there was also a male and female BW Fly at the Red River Island).

The little forest at Bai Da had a few Red-breasted Parrakeets, a Large Hawk Cuckoo (another one seen this morning as well) and several Black-naped Monarchs. The out of place song of a Mountain Tailorbird there irritated me quite a bit, but I found it and it really was one.

The northern tip of the Island rewarded me with nice views of the Black-shouldered Kites and a nice male Pied Harrier, always great to see those.

This morning with Sebastien was also quite good. Apart from the interesing find of the Paddyfield Warbler, there were several Black-browed Reed-Warblers about, lots of Critrine and Yellow Wagtails, the channel hat many Pond Herons in breeding plumage, a nice Black-capped Kingfisher, a White-browed Crake and a Moorhen, several Yellow Bitterns and a fly-by Crake, which we think was Ruddy-breasted, but we couldn't relocate it to get better views and confirm.

Once again, surprisingly good birding for a big city.

Below some pictures (apologies for not being up to the usual standard of quality for this blog, perhaps Sebastien will add some better ones later) and the full list.

Cheers, Florian

 Red-breasted Parakeet, Bai Da

 Black-naped Monarch, Bai Da

 Pied Harrier, Red River Island (northern tip)

Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Botanical Gardens

Yellow Bittern, Channel between Hanoi and RR Island

White's Thrush, Channel

Large Hawk Cuckoo, Channel

 Swinhoe's Minivet, Red River Island

Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Red River Island


Yellow Bittern
Grey Heron
Chinese Pond Heron
Black-shouldered Kite
Pied Harrier
White-breasted Waterhen
Ruddy-breasted Crake (probable)
White-browed Crake
Little Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Snipe sp.
Large Hawk Cuckoo, 2
Plaintive Cuckoo
Greater Coucal
Common Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Black-capped Kingfisher
Red-breasted Parrakeet
Swinhoe’s Minivet
Black-winged Cuckooshrike
Burmese Shrike
Ashy Drongo
White-throated Fantail
Black-naped Monarch
Barn Swallow
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
Japanese Tit
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Mountain Tailorbird
Dusky Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Arctic Warbler
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler
Eastern Crowned Leaf-Warbler
Sulphur-breasted Warbler
Paddyfield Warbler (see also discussion in comments)
Zitting Cisticola
Common Tailorbird
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Plain Prinia
Chestnut-flanked White-eye
Japanese White-eye
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Blue-and-white Flycatcher, 3
Taiga Flycatcher
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
female Cyornis Flycatcher
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Siberian Stonechat
Blue Rock Thrush (roofs in Hanoi)
White’s Thrush
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
White Wagtail
Richard's Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Tree Sparrow
Scaly-breasted Munia


  1. Is that not a Paddyfield Warbler, Florian ?

  2. Hi, yes, bill fits better, wings probably as well? Has Paddyfield been recorded in Vietnam (not yet acc. to Robson)?
    Sebastien will post more pics...
    Btw, who wrote that comment?
    Thanks Florian

  3. Sent a mail to Phil Round to have his opinion. He kindly answered me this (thanks to him !) :

    “Looking at these photos I cannot make this to be A. concinens. It looks far too rufous-tinged above and too richly tawny below. Additionally it has a conspicuous dark eyeline in front of the eye (weak in concinens) and, moroever, seems to show slight darkening of the lateral crown. The bill is nt as long and strong as I usually seee in concinens and I would therefore reach the conclusion that it is most likely either agricola (Paddyfield Warbler) or tangorum (Manchurian Reed Warbler). Admittedly the supercilium looks short and seems not to extend behind the eye, though the appearance of the supercilium can vary depending on how the crown feathers lie and is also much influenced by ambient lighting. Possibly the images have been tweaked somewhat in processing- I cannot see much feather detail.

    I would expect both tangorum and agricola to be worn and a bit bleached at this time of year, agricola in particular appearing sandy grey above and more silvery-white below, though both species presumably have a pre-nuptial moult of body feathers which would return them to more rufous tones. Bill does not look long and strong, nor is the blackish on the lateral crown well-marked. I would therefore reach the conclusion that this bird is an agricola that has moulted body feathers giving it the richly rufous colouration shown in your photos.”

    Phil also told me I should seek opinions of Peter Kennerley or Paul J Leader. I will send their answers here as soon as I get them.


  4. Mail of Paul J Leader (many thanks to him also!) :

    "I would agree with Phil (and Peter) on this as a Paddyfield. I agree that it is a rather warm bird but not that much warmer than birds I have trapped in spring. I agree with Phil that the lateral crown stripes are too poorly marked for tangorum, and the additional photos show the bill structure well and it is clearly too narrow at the base for tangorum (or concinens). In addition the additional photos show an entirely uniform crown, lacking the subtle but distinctive mottling of tangorum. Nice record!"

  5. Manchurian for me. I'm pretty sure Paddyfield would be first for Vietnam?

    Simon Mitchell

  6. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for posting. Yes, apparently, Paddyfield W. has never been recorded in Vietnam, that`s why this ID issue Manchurian vs Paddyfield is quite important.
    Could you please bring some arguments for the debate?


  7. Mail of Peter Kennerley (many thanks!) :

    ``The supercilium and dark shadow above the supercilium on the side of the crown are typical of agricola, and these features exclude concinens. Also the warm tones to the plumage are typical of agricola in fresh plumage, but this colour is quickly lost after the moult as the feather tips are lost and the plumage becomes duller. The possibility of tangorum can be excluded by the rather narrow bill structure, the proportionately short and broad tail, the conspicuously dark sides to the lower mandible, and lack of fringing/mottling on the crown. So I agree that this bird is agricola``.

  8. Phil also told me I should seek opinions of Peter Kennerley or Paul J Leader. I will send their answers here as soon as I get them.

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