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

31 December 2014

Chinese Penduline Tits at Hanoi

Today (31th  December) was one of those days that makes me grateful to be a regular patchworker. There is always something new to see, something new to learn, and sometimes a great surprise around the corner.
This morning I headed to the Red River, more exactly to the place called “Bai Da Song Hong”, only few kilometers from the city center. This area is a mix of shrubs, woodland, grassland, reedbeds, sandbars and open water, crossed by small tracks. This is the most popular place in Hanoi for... wedding photos. A scenic place, good birds, beautiful brides..... A great spot!

I parked my bike and headed out onto the trails. After a few minutes walk, a small bird perched on a reed attracted my attention. I hurriedly put my bins to my eyes and was more than happy to discover a Chinese Penduline Tit, part of a small party (ca 5 ind.) busily exploring reedbeds.

Below a heavily-cropped (photographer speak for crap) record shot taken with a... 100mm macro lens (a great lens for butterflies and dragonflies but not for birds!). The worse photo ever published on this blog for sure, sorry for that, but enough to validate the sighting. Should have my 400mm next week, fingers crossed.

Apparently there are very few records of Chinese Penduline Tit from Vietnam (1 or 2 according to Lê Manh Hung), although of course the lack of people checking suitable habitat in winter is certainly a factor.
This species is recorded in Robson for East Tonkin, as vagrant. 

Happy New Year!
May you see wonderful birds in 2015!


PS : relocated the flock on January 2. Got better views and slightly better images. Five individuals, majority of first-winter (pale mask), at least one adult male. Perched on reeds and tall grasses at the edge of a pond, sometimes on top of peach trees in a nearby orchard.

Remiz consobrinus, male ad. and 1st winter bird. 
Hopefully they will stick around a few more days and someone will take better photos than me.

According to literature, breeds in the Russian Far East and northeast China. Winters in eastern and southern China (Yangtze valley, Yunnan, Hong Kong), South Korea and South Japan. An increase in the wintering grounds was recorded in the last decades.

24 December 2014

A short trip to Ba Vi NP

Last week I went to Ba Vi for work-related reasons but but I did manage to sneak off and do a bit of birding in the National Park :) 

I got a female White-throated Rock Thrush, a White's Thrush, a flock of 17 Red-billed Blue Magpies, a couple of Grey Treepies, a Ashy Bulbul, a female Fork-tailed Sunbird, lots of Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers (and one good opportunity of photo missed arghh.....), a Red-flanked Bluetail...

The day after, in a rural cultivate area in Thanh Tri district (near Cong Bang pagoda, Hanoi), only a Wryneck and a Siberian Stonechat played ball for the camera.

Le Viet Tuan Hoang

Grey Treepie - one of the avian specialities of Ba Vi (more often heard than seen)

Ashy Bulbul

Red-flanked Bluetail

White-throated Rock Thrush, female

Fork-tailed Sunbird, female

White's Thrush

Red-billed Blue Magpie


Siberian Stonechat

18 December 2014

Small Niltava in the City

A cold front brings altitudinal migrants to the city (Hanoi). Recently spotted at the Botanical Gardens a juv. White-tailed Robin and a female Small Niltava. The latter is a patch tick and the 22th species* of ‘Flycatcher’ being observed in this park!

During the winter months, this strict montane bird sometimes shifts to lower elevations. It is a scarce visitor at Hanoi (I have 2 previous sightings in November  2010 and December 2012). Moves lower inside denser vegetation, more skulking in habit than other Niltavas. With all the ‘grooming’ in the park, I was not expecting to spot this species there.

No photos unfortunately (photography gear had some 'problems' recently)...


* the 21 others are : Fujian Niltava, Brown-chested Jungle Fly, Grey-headed Canary Fly, Dark-sided, Asian Brown, Brown-breasted, Ferruginous, Verditer, Yellow-rumped, Green-backed, Mugimaki, Taiga, Snowy-browed, Slaty-backed, Slaty-blue, Rufous-gorgeted, Blue-and-White sensu lato, Hainan Blue,  Chinese Blue, Hill Blue, Blue-throated (ssp klossi) (excluded : Asian Paradise Fly, Black-naped Monarch).

  2 photos of the juv. White-tailed Robin taken one day before by Jean-Daniel L'HERIAU, a french visiting birder (many thanks to him!) 

16 December 2014

Silver Waterfall at Tay Thien - Tam Dao

I haven’t been birding for a few weeks due to work and family commitments, so it was nice to go last Saturday to Tay Thien, Tam Dao, in Vinh Phuc province (70km from Hanoi). 

On the way to the Silver Waterfall, I saw some mix flocks with warblers, Schaeffer’s Fulvettas... 
But my main target here were Water-Redstarts and I picked up 2 birds : a stunning White-capped WR and a  female Plumbeous WR.
Other interesting birds include  a couple of Grey Wagtails, a smart Slaty-backed Forktail, 2 Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers - 1 female and 1 male at good range, nice and clean light and background. 
On the way back, I saw more birds moving and calling around but not enough time to photograph them.

Tay Thien, a really nice place for sight-seeing, trekking and birding!
Sure I will be back soon :)

Le Viet Tuan Hoang

White-capped Water Redstart

Schaeffer's Fulvetta is a recent split from Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, and is a typical component species of bird-waves at Tam Dao

Slaty-backed Forktail

Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher

Plumbeous Water Redstart, female

Grey Wagtail