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

2 March 2015

A morning at Tam Dao / 27th Feb.

Hi all, 

Last week, a morning visit to Tam Dao (along the “Water Tank trail”) produced some nice species in spite of many groups of noisy students. As usual the birding activity was slow in spite of the excellent viewing conditions. Some « innovations » there since my last visit last year: a barrier at the Forest protection station, an entrance ticket (20.000 VND) and, at the end of the trail, a restaurant + a new loop trail. Obviously there is a plan to attract more visitors there. And unfortunately it works well !

The 3 peaks that gives Tam Dao its name (Tam = 3, Dao/Đảo = island - above the sea of fog!), seen from the Water Tank trail.
An amazing warm and sunny weather, rare in February.

The piping call of the Golden Babbler and the loud song of the Golden-throated Barbet accompanied me all the morning, and some gave nice views. Another common singer was the handsome Chestnut Bulbul. I also did hear some distant Laughingthrushes (probably Grey), and at the end of the morning a flock of Grey L. finally crossed the trail. It took plenty of time and effort to get some kind of view of one of the 3-4 birds present. Chestnut Bulbul and Grey Laughingthrushes are restricted to East Tonkin and South China, and are among the specialities of Tam Dao.

In mid-morning, as virtually nothing was moving, I played the Collared Owlet call and had a male Forktail Sunbird and some unexpected Short-tailed Parrotbills (another local speciality), which vanished as quickly as they appeared. No photos, maybe next time.
At the end of the trail I had also 1 Ratchet-tailed Treepie, which gave great looks. Following the bird-waves as usual. One ceicercus warbler was also seen, identified by ear as the Bianchi’s Warbler (soft più call). 

Notable other birds include a fine pair of Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler, Schaeffer's Fulvetta, Black Bulbul, Chestnut-collared Yuhina (a breeding pair), Spot-necked Babbler, Collared Owlet (heard), Streaked-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Lesser Yellownape, Sultan Tit, a lone Japanese Thrush, Brown-flanked Bush Warbler... 

I also bumped into 2 guys on motorcycle with (homemade) guns. My god, where are the "rangers" ? Despite being a national park, proper conservation remains non-existent. This is Vietnam!

heavily cropped shots of a male Blyth's Shrike-Babbler - split from White-Browed Shrike-Babbler complex

Golden Babbler

male Forktail Sunbird

David's (Schaeffer's) Fulvetta - split from Grey-cheeked.

Chestnut Bulbul

a very smart Black Bulbul of the white-headed morph

Along the Water Tank trail...
The former trail has been fully degraded into a gravel track...Hopefully it will not be upgraded to a paved road...


  1. Nice photos Sebastien :)
    Birding are now harder and harder, the government seems not to be support for wildlife anymore.
    Each time I went into the forest or national park or Nature reserve, I saw hunter or some kind of people with guns or a kind of trap...
    Infact after reading the Vietnam birdnews blogspot and compare to what we have now (or at least I saw on the field) I think fewer birds coming to Hanoi, same in the other places. ...

    1. Yep Hoang, nature and wildlife conservation is not being given a high priority by your government, to say the least. Some even call Vietnam “Ground Zero” for nature conservation. Generally speaking, Vietnam has a good body of environmental laws and regulations but implementation is very, very weak. The picture's very bleak and there is no reason to be optimistic about the future...

      Concerning Tam Dao, we can't even imagine how wonderful was this place a few decades ago.