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

10 April 2014

Spring Migration : Some Hanoi Stuff

Spring migration is in full spring, and Hanoi’s parks & wooded/scrubby patches are great places to experience this. In large forests, things are much more “diluted”, I must say... Any park or garden can provide a stopover point for migrating birds and as the city continues to swallow up patches of greenery, these oases of habitat will become ever-increasingly important to passage migrants, making it even more likely that rare migrants can be found....

3-4 strolls (7-10 April) produced a nice selection of migrants/winter visitors, among them 2 lifers*, with highlights being (all at Bãi đá sông Hồng, northern tip of the Red River Island):

-1 male Narcissus Flycatcher (PM)
-1 Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo (PM)*
-1 Chestnut-winged Cuckoo (PM)
-1 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird (? Status uncertain but certainly not R)*

PM : passage migrant
W: winter visitor
R: resident

And all the usual stuff at this period of the year:

-Blue Whistling Thrush (PM+W), Eye-browed (PM) and White’s Thrushes (PM+W). Wintering Thrushes numbers have mostly decreased rapidly since mid-March
-Small flocks of Ashy and Spangled Drongos (both PM), Ashy Minivets (PM)
-Black-naped Monarch (PM), in mixed flocks with many phylloscs (“Blyth” (lato sensu), Eastern-crowned, Yellow-browed...)
-In the understorey, some Radde’s, Dusky Warblers, Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf-Warblers
- Yellow-rumped (PM) and Mugimaki (PM+W) Flycatchers at all the patches. Numerous Taiga Flycatchers (PM+W), males in summer dress. Surprisingly very few Asian Brown (PM+W) and Hill/Chinese Blue Flycatchers.
-2 Large Hawk Cuckoos (PM) (with the Hodgson’s, nice surprise – 1st sighting for me at Hanoi! Much more difficult to see and photograph in forest!)
- 1 Dollarbird, certainly (scarce) PM here.
- In the open fields, a surprising Indian Roller around Vinh Thuy Bridge (rare sight in East Tonkin), flocks of Red-throated Pipits (PM+W), lone Burmese Shrikes (PM).
- Around water bodies, numerous Black-browed Reed-Warblers (PM), nice males Citrine Wagtails (PM+W) in summer dress et Eastern Yellow Wagtails (PM+W).

Black-browed Reed Warbler

Spangled Drongo

showing its erectile crest

 Black-naped Monarch, male

  Black-naped Monarch, female

 Dollardbird - scarce passage migrant at Hanoi (my 2nd record)

Eastern-crowned Warbler showing well its yellow vent

 Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf-Warbler

 Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo

 Large Hawk Cuckoo

 Asian Brown Flycatcher

A juicy male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher - Botanical Gardens. 

better background...

 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

 Eye-browed Thrush

Ashy Minivet

Another highlight of my strolls was this mating pair of Atlas moth (Attacus atlas) found in a carambola orchard.

This species is interesting for two reasons: first, it is listed (as Rare) in Vietnam's Red Data Book of threatened species (Vietnamese: Sách đỏ Việt Nam). Secondly, it is a magnificent creature with a wingspan of around 25-30 cm! It is the world's biggest moth, not by wingspan but by wing surface area. This mating pair was an amazing sight. To have an idea of its size, click here.

The caterpillars feed on the leaves of a wide range of trees, from the carambola to cinnamon, lime, pomelo, rambutan, guava, citrus fruits.
The wing tips are hooked and some say resemble a snake's head complete with eye, to scare off predators!

Its name in Vietnamese is Bướm khế (= carambola tree butterfly).


  1. Great post Sebastien. It brings back memories. Strangely we had a migrating (common) Cuckoo here in Qatar on the same day.

  2. Hi Wayne,

    I have seen your pictures of birds of Qatar on flickr, very nice !


  3. Nice blog