Welcome to Vietnam Bird News

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

2 October 2014

Quest for migrant waterbirds around Hanoi

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)

.... not to mention Green, Wood and Common Sandpipers, Snipes sp., Egrets, Grey Herons, Little Ring Plovers, Common Greenshanks, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, etc.

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

Pacific Golden Plovers & Oriental Pratincoles roosting in a cultivated field

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.


  1. Very nice observations Sebastien, I especially like the Golden Plover and Pied Kingfisher shot :) Congrats to you :)

  2. Thanks Hoang,

    Pure luck with the Kingfisher. I was inside my hide waiting for waders and it perched 30m away, so too far for worthy shots. I forgot it, but finally decided to approach like a turtle, still inside my hide. 29, 28, 27m.....20m,......15m.. and finally less than 10 m! I was very surprised that such a wary bird allowed a so close approach. A hide in motion is quite a strange thing, I think...

  3. Loving your posts and great photos Sebastien, Hoang & Tien. More than a little envious of you guys being in Hanoi at this time of the year!


  4. Great pics! I'm enjoying very much the blog being lively again!

  5. Hi there,
    The blind in motion is quite new surprise and strange with me. The moving "turtle blind" has done a very good job :) In some situations, new way to approach should useful :D Right?