Hanoi is certainly not a heaven for waterbirds. City lakes and ponds are birdless, suburbs have quite a lot marshes and wetlands but most of them are over-frequented - by hunters amongst other - and their waters are too deep for shorebirds (only suitable for diving/dabbling birds and Ardeidae). The few good spots for birders are the exposed mudflats along the Red River. At the end of the rainy season (September-October), the water levels drop quickly. Many sandbars and mudflats appear, providing excellent habitat for migrating shorebirds. Diversity and numbers always remain low but it is possible to find some goodies if you give it enough time and effort. Autumn passage is far better than in spring.
Last week, I saw the following during a one day trip 20 km from the city (upstream) :
- flock of 80+ Garganeys (ducks are a rare sight in Hanoi, but Garganeys are regular at this period of the year)
- Oriental Pratincoles (3 flocks of 30-40 individuals, often roosting in cultivated fields. Regular passage migrant in autumn)
- Pacific Golden Plovers (ca 15 individuals, mudflats and wet fields)
- some Spotted Redshank
- 20 Black-winged Stilts (autumn passage peak in early September)
- 2 Curlew Sandpipers + 5 Marsh Sandpipers in one inundated field – interesting record for the city I think
- 50+ Grey-headed Lapwings in different flocks (regular autumn migrant)
- some Temminck’s Stints (passage migrant and winter visitor, uncommon)
- 10-15 Kentish Plovers (passage migrant and winter visitor)
Also noteworthy were Sand and Grey-throated Martins, a lone Eurasian Hobby gliding overhead, many Harriers (Eastern Marsh ad.+juv., Pied juv.), a pair of nesting Grass Owl - all along the marshy/grassy banks of the river.
Oriental Pratincoles & Garganeys - shot of the latter heavily cropped
Common Greenshank & Curlew Sandpipers
male Pied Kingfisher, a common year-round resident
Like a lot of people, it was the charisma of kingfishers that lured me into birding.