At the morning of April 20th, I went once more to the small forest patch at Bai Da at the Red River to look for migrants.
Around the northern end of the little forest, I noticed a bird that perched openly with some of the Drongos present. I could manage a quick look and take some record pictures. I saw the bird later again nearby, again perched together with a Black-winged Cuckooshrike. Distance was higher this time and quality of pictures therefore even worse. The birds were shy and both times I could only observe them shortly. But it was enough to note the following characteristics:
- whitish belly with strong streaks, also on throat
- dark cap and face
- upper mantle brownish, back and rump clearly very light grey
- beak rather long and light color, almost blueish
In the field I guessed a female Maroon Oriole but wondered about that grey back. Later (in the plane flying home) consulting the Robson field guide, I realised that it must be a female Silver Oriole. Still doubting a little, because the upper more brownish part of the mantle did not seem a perfect match of the description and drawing, I sent the pictures to some people. Simon Mahood and John Pilgrim confirmed that it is indeed a Silver Oriole.
As far as I know this must be the first record for Vietnam, and also the first record on passage from the wintering grounds in Thailand and Cambodia to the breeding grounds in China. Looking at maps of the (still poorly) known range, Hanoi lays pretty much on a potential migration route: Birdlife species fact sheet with range map.
Here the two pictures (cropped and slighly lightened). Coordinates of the sighting (taken from google maps) are: 21.081355, 105.832847
Sebastien will try to find the bird again, and if the bird is still present, we'll certainly see better pictures.
Besides this phantastic bird, there were some other interesting birds present as well, many of them already observed by Sebastien in the previous days (see his previous post): Dollarbird, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, many Dusky and Radde's Warblers, Black, Ashy and Hair-crested Drongos, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (female), Mugimaki Flycatcher (male and female), Taiga Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarchs, Blue Whistling Thrush, Large Hawk Cuckoo, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, etc.
There was also a Forest Wagtail, an Orange-headed Thrush and a Common or Oriental (Himalayan) Cuckoo. I tend towards Oriental because of the somewhat bold barrings and the grey of the head constrasting with the dark back.