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23 February 2015

Godlewski's Bunting in Ha Giang prov.

Birding the province of Ha Giang over Tet, we decided to spend the night along the TL182. This is a fascinating area, with black karst mountains dominating, sparsely vegetated, and with small hamlets scattered between the mountains. It is not very hospitable. We parked the car on a little side road to a hamlet for the night. The next morning I took coordinates, but made a mistake with the navigation system and registered the coordinates of a different place. So the only thing I can now say was that it was close to Lung Phin. 

The next morning (February 20) we checked the rocky slopes around when we woke up. Magpies are common here, Russet Sparrow and Green-backed Tit, Rusty-capped Fulvetta and Vinous-throated Parrotbill were some of the goodies. I followed a bunting that turned out to be a Little Bunting when I flushed two larger buntings that made a thin "tsii" call. When one perched on top of a rock I was very surprised to see a Rock Bunting like bunting, with chestnut belly and lower breast, grey upper breast, throat and head, with a brownish-black stripe through the eye, bordered above by a grey supercilium, a black moustachial stripe, and a chestnut crown with greyish crown stripe. Wings bars formed by light tips to median and greater coverts, chestnut rump and striped back completed the picture. Godlewski's Bunting! Although we walked quite a bit in the area, this was the only place where we saw them. There were 3-4 males present, and one of them was observed singing for a while from the top of a rock (the bunting, we were standing somewhat lower observing). I only had my iPhone with me and could not make a usable picture, although I did get a faint recording of the song.

Godlewski's Bunting is a rare sight in South-East Asia where Robson lists it as uncommon to parts of Myanmar. In Vietnam there have been only 2 (unconfirmed) previous records: one bird in Lai Chau prov. in 2005 and two in Quang Ba reserve (Ha Giang prov. also) in April 2008 (Lê Manh Hung, pers. comm.). 

Tom Kompier

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations for this phantastic observation!

    Interesting as well that you were birding the Ha Giang area. Not much info available. Are there any particular sites you would recommend?

    Cheers, Florian