THE BEST OF VIETNAM
JANUARY 17–FEBRUARY 4, 2016
Bar-bellied Pitta Machiel Valkenburg
THE BEST OF VIETNAM JANUARY 17–FEBRUARY 4, 2016
By Machiel Valkenburg
On January 19th I met our tour participants in the lobby of the five-star Majestic Hotel in Ho Cho Minh
City (formerly Saigon). We had arrived a few days prior to the start of our tour, and we enjoyed the great service at this enchanting colonial style hotel from the 1920s. We packed up our car and, together with excellent local guide Quang, started driving towards the fascinating lowland Dipterocarp forest of Nam Bai Cat Tien. We would spend three full days birding in this amazing forest where we were blessed with many great sightings. Our days began around 05:30 with a pre-breakfast excursion, followed by a two- to three-hour session of birding after breakfast. We then enjoyed a midday siesta and had a final excursion in the late afternoon.
Blue-naped Pitta © M. Valkenburg
Our first excursion took us on a jungle trail where, with the use of camouflage tents and seats, we sat down and waited for foraging pittas. Within five minutes a gorgeous male Bar-bellied Pitta appeared about three yards from us. How lucky could we be? The pitta was joined by the common White-rumped Shama, Abbott’s Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, and cute Chestnut-capped Babbler. While enjoying this spectacle, we suddenly heard a distant call from a Blue-rumped Pitta. This shy species occurred, as well, right in front of us a few minutes after hearing its call. We were stunned by its appearance and absorbed its beauty with pleasure! In the grasslands of the park we heard two endemic Germain’s Peacock-Pheasants, loved a single male Green Peafowl, enjoyed a group of Red-wattled Lapwings, scoped a close Green Imperial-Pigeon, appreciated a party of Silver-backed Needletails, and both Oriental Pied- and Great Hornbills were a few of the highlights. In the dense foliage of the jungle we had amazing views of a small group of four Black-and-red Broadbills chattering away, which shortly after were accompanied by a female and stunning male Banded Kingfisher. Around our excellent lodge we found Sooty-headed Bulbul, White-crested Laughingthrush, Yellow-vented and Scarlet-backed flowerpeckers, and three species of spectacularly colored leafbirds (Blue-winged, Golden-fronted, and Orange-bellied). On several evening excursions we were lucky to find some nocturnal birds such as Great Eared-Nightjar, Large-tailed Nightjar, Collared Scops-Owl, Asian Barred Owlet, and Brown Boobook. All in all we had a superb time birding one of the best forests of Asia!
After Cat Tien we drove by way of Di Linh to Da Lat, which is in the middle of the Lang Bian plateau in southeast Vietnam. We visited a village where coffee was the major source of income; Vietnam is one of the world’s top producers of coffee. We enjoyed a locally produced cup of delicious coffee. In Di Ling we did some roadside birding, and here we discovered some Green Bee-eaters, heard our first Black-browed (Annam) Barbet, and scoped a gorgeous Black-crested Bulbul. Our itinerary had us scheduled for three full days in the Da Lat region; during this private tour we altered the program a little to meet the needs of our participants, focusing more on the cultural aspects of this wonderful region. In the early morning and late afternoon we scheduled birding excursions, and during the day we enjoyed several cultural activities. Top sightings included, among others, a close Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, groups of charming Long-tailed and Scarlet minivets, a delightful Maroon Oriole, displaying White-browed Fantails, special “leucotis” Eurasian Jay, and a lovely Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher.
Stripe-throated Bulbul © M. Valkenburg
The Da Lat flower garden is a well-maintained park showing many colorful fields of flowers which we were pleased to visit. Here we also encountered a perched Burmese Shrike and a small flock of Vinous-breasted Starlings. In the evening we visited the Linh Phong Pagoda. This Buddhist pagoda was built in 1944 and is the center of the teachings of Thich Nguyen Bich. Quang gave us an excellent insight into the life of the monks living in the temple. During the evenings we strolled the night market and witnessed the life of the locals selling locally made handicrafts. Vietnam is known worldwide for its tasty, balanced foods; on all evenings we visited excellent restaurants, enjoying the culinary skills of the Vietnamese kitchen.
A last morning of birding in Da Lat was followed by a drive towards the local airport where a new Boeing brought us to the capitol of Vietnam—Hanoi. We arrived in the early evening (with rain), and from the airport we drove to the village of Tam Dao with its similarly named national park, which would be our home for the coming two nights. The weather reports of the days prior to our arrival informed us that for the very first time ever, snow was recorded in Tam Dao. On our first morning of birding in the hills of the national park, it drizzled a little, which turned into rain after 25 minutes. We walked back encountering no birds, as the snow had driven all birds down the mountain. The rest of the day we stayed in, as rain turned into heavy rain. The next morning we woke up to blue skies and rushed to the national park where we were welcomed by a plethora of birds. One male Crested Goshawk was hunting and stirred many passerines; among them was a tiny White-browed Piculet which moved through the scrub at a fast pace. We all, however, had excellent looks at this wonderful miniature woodpecker. A few minutes later we
came across a mixed flock of birds in which we quickly found an exquisite Sultan Tit, which gave a little show, performing three yards from us! We also found Japanese Tit, Common Tailorbird, Indochinese Yuhina, Golden Babbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Gray Laughingthrush, and a large group of beautifully colored Silver-eared Mesia! What a morning, and what birds the Tam Dao National Park showed us!
Black-hooded Oriole © M. Valkenburg
We descended from Tam Dao back into the lowlands of the red river delta for a five-hour drive towards Cuc Phuong National Park. On our way we visited the Bai Dinh pagoda, which is the largest in Southeast Asia; it is a complex of 20 architectural works on the campus of 700 hectares! We walked the premises and visited several of the large works where we enjoyed some bright golden Buddha sculptures. It was a wonderful experience. In the parks of the pagoda we met a male Japanese Thrush skulking away in the briar. We arrived in the evening in the (again—rainy) national park of Cuc Phuong. Our rooms were basic but clean in the headquarters of the park. We were ideally situated to explore the national park with its fascinating limestone formations and long list of birds and mammals. Every morning and afternoon we took walks in the park where we encountered many attractive species like the endemic Red-vented Barbet, Greater Yellownape, Bay Woodpecker, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, more Sultan Tits, Gray-eyed Bulbul, White-tailed Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail, many Orange-headed Thrushes, Gray-backed Thrush, and several Olive-backed Pipits around the headquarters. The highlight of the visit to the park was, surely, being witness to a Pied Falconet catching a Limestone Leaf Warbler, two large targets for this park. We were watching a mixed group of Leaf Warblers when, out of nowhere, a lot of excitement hit the flock. We understood that a raptor was near, but only until Machiel discovered the Pied Falconet about five yards from us with a Limestone Leaf Warbler in its claws! The weather during our stay was very wet, and it made us alter the itinerary; we returned one day early to Hanoi for a guided city visit. The drive back to Hanoi allowed a visit to a small wetland where we quickly found a superb White-browed Crake, tens of Purple Swamphen, a small flock of Paddyfield Pipits, and an attractive Siberian Stonechat, a winter visitor from Russia.
In Hanoi we lodged in the exquisite Metropole Hotel, which was voted a place in the top 100 of all best hotels in the world. With this fantastic hotel as our base, we explored the “City of Lakes” in style. We spent significant time wandering the markets in the evenings where many locals were buying their gifts for the approaching Chinese New Year celebrations. In the streets around our hotel all the major brands like Gucci, Dior, and Laboutin had their shops represented for the wealthy Vietnamese. In the ancient old quarter of the city with its narrow streets filled with motorbikes we found some excellent handicraft stores that sold elegant silk scarves and modern arts. One morning was spent in the National Art Museum which especially Joanna enjoyed very much; we noticed that many arts were influenced by the war of the sixties and seventies of the previous century.
With a grand finale dinner and a delicious bottle of red wine, we concluded our amazing tour in the outstanding country of Vietnam!
BIRD & MAMMAL LIST
This Checklist order, and common and scientific names are those given by James F. Clements in
The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World,
Edition, Cornell University Press, with all
current updates. Possible or debated species splits and alternative Common and Scientific names
[essentially those given by the Oriental Bird Club (OBC)] are given in ( ) or included in heavily
Pheasants, Grouse & Allies
Scaly-breasted Partridge Arborophila chloropus
Two birds were seen walking over the trail on our way to the pitta spot in the Cat Tien NP on the 20th. All
others days in the Cat Tien NP this species was heard only.
Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
Two birds heard along the track near the information center in Cat Tien NP on the 21st.
Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron germaini
In the morning of the 21st and 22nd we heard two birds calling along the road near the headquarters in Cat
Tien NP. Unfortunately we did not see the birds crossing the road.
Green Peafowl Pavo muticus
We had good views of one male feeding in the grassland areas at Cat Tien NP on the 20th. We really
enjoyed watching this bird for over 10 minutes.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Couple of birds foraging on the lake in Da Lat while we visited the Flower Garden.
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala
Three birds flying over the forest at the grassland area of Cat Tien on the 19th, this was a rare sighting for
Cormorants & Shags
Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
One bird flying over on the 19th during a walk in the grasslands of Cat Tien.
Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
Herons, Egrets & Bitterns
Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia
Several birds in the rice fields during our drive from Cat Tien to Da Lat and during our drive from Tam Dao to Cuc Phuong.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Two birds foraging in the river in front of the Forest Floor Lodge in Cat Tien on the 19th. Common during
our days around Dalat.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Several birds in the rice fields during our drive from Cat Tien to Da Lat.
Chinese Pond-Heron Ardeola bacchus
Common throughout the tour.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
One heavily moulting bird flying over the Forest Floor Lodge in Cat Tien on the 19th and 23rd.
Hawks, Eagles & Kites
Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
One close bird soaring over the fields in the grassland area of Cat Tien NP on the 20th. The broad wings
and fingers were beautifully seen. Machiel saw another bird from the veranda of the lodge during the siesta on the 21st.
Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela
One distant bird from the veranda of the lodge in Cat Tien on the 19th.
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
One male hunting along the slopes in the Tam Dao NP on the 28th and 29th, most probably it was the same
Rails, Gallinules & Coots
White-browed Crake Porzana cinerea
One bird walking along the shore of Xa Phu Thanh Lake. We scoped this lovely gallinule on about 30 yards distance – we all had cracking views!
Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio
Tens of birds seen at Xa Phu Thanh Lake which was the bird of the day for Joanna.
Eurasian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Several birds were seen during out visit to the Flower Garden in Dalat. In the little pond we saw many waterbirds.
Plovers & Lapwings
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
Several smaller groups with a maximum of six birds flew up during our time birding the grasslands in Cat Tien on the 19th. We also encountered a small group on the 20th in the same spot while driving back after
Sandpipers & Allies
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Two birds in Da Lat during our visit to the Flower Garden in the center of the city.
Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator
One bird crossing the road in Cat Tien on only 3 yards distance from us, however it all happened very fast.
Pigeons & Doves
Red Collared-Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
Common in the grassland areas of Cat Tien.
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
One bird perched close by in the grasslands of Cat Tien during a walk on the 20th. The species was
common around Da Lat.
Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
Two birds we scoped near the headquarters in the Cat Tien NP and gave us lovely views.
Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
One bird flew by and was seen only by Machiel from the back of the car on the 20th while driving back
from an excursion in the grasslands of Cat Tien.
Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra
Two birds making a nest in a small tree were observed for over 15 minutes. We were amazed by the subtle markings on the wings of this cute pigeon.
Green Imperial-Pigeon Ducula aenea
Seven birds flew by but perched right in front of us giving us excellent walk away views in the grasslands of Cat Tien.
Mountain Imperial-Pigeon Ducula badia Common in the hills of Da Lat.
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus
One bird was seen well in the top of the canopy near the headquarters in Cat Tien NP on the 22th
Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus
One bird passing by and seen by Machiel from the back of the truck. Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
Several birds were seen shortly in the Cat Tien NP and one bird was seen in the Cuc Phuong NP.
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
One bird foraging along the road on the ground on a trail in Cat Tien NP giving us quick views.
One bird perched along the road from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien on the 19th.
Collared Scops-Owl Otus lettia
We heard two birds calling around the lodge just before breakfast at the Forest Floor Lodge on the 20th.
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei
One bird calling along the trail in Tam Dao NP on the 29th during our morning excursion
Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides
Four birds called around the lodge during a pre-breakfast birding session in Cat Tien NP.
Brown Boobook Ninox scutulata
One bird called from a tree near the lodge which we unfortunately could not find. Near the headquarters in Cat Tien we did see a gorgeous birds perched on a leafless branch.
Nightjars & Allies
Great Eared-Nightjar Lyncornis macrotis
Many birds were calling from the veranda in the Forest Floor Lodge and we were fortunate to see a single bird flying over the lodge giving us good views.
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka
One bird seen near the headquarters in Cuc Phuong NP.
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
One bird flew over the lodge on the 22th in the evening just before the night set it.
Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis
We encountered several groups foraging above the forests of Cat Tien during the 3 days of birding in this fantastic park.
Germain’s Swiftlet Aerodramus germani
Common throughout the south of Vietnam.
Pacific Swift Apus pacificus
Tens of birds in the Bidoup NP on the 25th during our morning excursion.
House Swift Apus nipalensis
Group of swifts foraging around the temple on the 25th in Da Lat.
Orange-breasted Trogon Harpactes oreskios
We heard two birds calling during our walk on the trail leading to the pitta place. As we were in a hurry for the pitta we did not pay attention. On the way back we found 2 birds at the main road perched on a branch in the jungle. What a fantastic sighting!
One bird perched on a dead branch at the pond near the Flower Garden in Dalat. We found the bird daily in the Cuc Phuong NP.
Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella
A couple along the road in Cat Tien giving excellent views of this outstanding forest kingfisher. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
Had one individual perched in the top of a tree near the headquarters which showed excellent through the telescope. Another bird was found at the lake in the Cuc Phuong NP giving as well excellent views.
Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
Little group foraging above some plowed fields just out of Cat Tien NP during our drive towards Da Lat.
Indian Roller Coracius benghalensis
Common in the grasslands of Cat Tien. The birds showed very well and we had great looks.
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
One bird perched on about 80 yards in the top of a tree gave good looks in the grassland area of Cat Tien on the 19th.
Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
Common in Cat Tien NP. On the 21st we had a very big group of 22 birds crossing from one tree to
another tree. They flew around 100 yards giving us excellent views.
Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis
One bird crossing the river in the morning of the 20th at our lovely lodge in Cat Tien.
Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephala
Two were heard on our way back from a very successful morning excursion in Cat Tien on the 20th.
Blue-eared Barbet Psilopogon duvaucelli
Common bird in Cat Tien which is heard constantly during the days of birding, we scoped this gorgeous barbet whenever we had the chance.
Red-vented Barbet (E) Psilopogon lagrandieri
We only heard the species in Tam Dao and during all the full days of birding in Cuc Phuong until the last morning we finally scoped a bird on around 20 yards from us. Machiel even Digi-scoped this endemic barbet!
Green-eared Barbet Psilopogon faiostrita
One bird perched in the top of a tree giving great views and showing the green ear very well. We saw it near the headquarter in Cat Tien on the 21st. Very common barbet as well in the Cuc Phuong NP giving
excellent views on many occasions.
This lovely Barbet species gave good views showing the yellow skin around the eye in Cat Tien on the 19th.
Black-browed Barbet Psilopogon oorti
Common in the region of Da Lat with several nice sightings.
White-browed Piculet Sasia ochracea
We had fantastic views of this tiny woodpecker in the Tam Dao hills while birding on an excellent morning on the 29th.
Gray-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopus canicapillus Short views of this lovely woodpecker near Da Lat.
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
Quick views of this beautifully colored woodpecker in the Cat Tien NP.
Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha
We had good sightings of this large woodpecker on both days in the Cuc Phuong National Park.
Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus
Common in Cat Tien National Park.
Common Flameback Dinopium javanense
Seen one bird hacking away on a dead tree trunk in Cat Tien in the 21st.
Greater Flameback Chryssocolaptes guttacristatus
We had a good woodpecker day on the 21st and also had this gorgeous woodpecker in Cat Tien.
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis
On both days in the Cuc Phuong National Park we had short sightings of this beautiful collared reddish woodpecker.
Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente
One bird foraging on a dead tree trunk for about 5 minutes giving excellent open views along the road near our lodge in Cat Tien NP.
Falcons & Caracaras
Collared Falconet Microhierax caerulescens
Fantastic sighting of a bird which was picked up by Quang on a large distance perched in a tree top. We were lucky that it was chased by a drongo and flew right towards us and perched again in the tree next to us. Superb views in the telescope of this classy falconet.
Pied Falconet Microhierax caerulescens
We had sightings of this little perfect falcon on both days in the Cuc Phuong but on the first day we had the amazing pleasure of witnessing a Pied Falconet hunting on a group of leaf-warblers and killing a Limestone Leaf-Warbler!!! The little warbler and falcon sat on around 5 yards from us!! A goose bumps experience!
Old World Parrots
Blossom-headed Parrot Psittacula roseate
Group of around 12 birds flying over during an afternoon of birding in the grassland areas in Cat Tien on the 19th.
Red-breasted Parrot Psittacula alexandri
Several small flocks of birds flying by in Cat Tien on the 19th.
Vernal Hanging-Parrot Loriculus vernalis
Small numbers were encountered every day while birding the main road in the Cat Tien NP.
Asian & Grauer’s Broadbills
Black-and-red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos
An awesome group of four birds showed extremely well along the road near our lodge in Cat Tien during our morning excursion on the 22th. What an amazing bird!
Blue-rumped Pitta Hydrornis soror
We enjoyed exquisite views of one of the most sought-after species of Vietnam in Cat Tien on the 20th.
For over 15 minutes the bird paraded in front of us on about 3 yards distance, which was for many of us one of the highlights of the tour.
Bar-bellied Pitta Hydrornis elliotii
We had extraordinary views of the jewel of the jungle in Cat Tien NP. In a hide placed on 3 yards distance from the feeding place the bird paraded in front of us. This part of the jungle was named ‘theatre of dreams’ by us.
Vangas, Helmetshrikes & Allies
Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis gularis
Couple foraging from the top of a tree along the path near our lodge in Cat Tien NP on the 21st.
Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike Hemipus picatus
Two birds were seen wonderfully through the telescope during a morning excursion in the Da Lat region. We saw the species as well on two other days in the Da Lat region.
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
Good scope views of a perched bird in Cat Tien on the 19th.
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
Skulky bird of which we had poor views while birding the grasslands in Cat Tien.
Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei
Like the Common Iora also the Great Iora is a skulker which we saw briefly in the dense lower vegetation of this amazing forest in Cat Tien on the 21st. Also good views of single bird in Cuc Phuong.
Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciousus
We had good views of several groups in Da Lat, Tam Dao and Cuc Phuong.
Brown-rumped Minivet Pericrocotus cantonensis
Far away views of a bird perched in the top of a tree in Cat Tien NP on the 21st.
Indochinese Cuckooshrike Lalage polioptera One bird perched in the valley near Da Lat showing very well.
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Common bird throughout in the south of the country, especially during the drive from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien we saw several birds perched on the fences near the road. In the north we had a few sightings around Cuc Phuong.
Burmese Shrike Lanius colluroides
Excellent views of a bird perched in a pine tree during our visit to the Da Lat Flower Garden. We encountered the species on all days in Da Lat.
Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus
We had one bird in a garden while driving away from our hotel in Tam Dao on the 29th, some excellent
views of this last bird of Tam Dao.
Vireos, Shrike-Babblers & Erpornis
Pied (White-browed) Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius flaviscapis
One bird showing extremely well perched on a fence during an excursion near the waterfall in Da Lat. Another bird was seen in a large flock of passerines in Tam Dao.
White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca
Several birds were seen well in the Cuc Phuong NP.
Old World Orioles
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
One bird perched in the top of a tree in Cat Tien NP.
Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
Good scope views of an excellent bird perched in the top of a bamboo tree in Cat Tien.
Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii
One bird gave us great views from three different angles in the Bidoup NP on the 25th.
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
Common throughout the tour.
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
One juvenile bird perched in the top of a tree during our morning excursion in Da Lat on the 24th.
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
Excellent scope views of a bird in Cat Tien during the excursion in the grasslands. The species was common in Cat Tien.
White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola
We had superb views of a bird flicking in front of us at the parking of the waterfall in Da Lat.
Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
One bird around the Forest Floor Lodge in Cat Tien showing well, it looked like it was going to nest there.
Crows, Jays & Magpies
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
This gorgeous subspecies was seen in the woods near Da Lat on our afternoon excursion. The birds showed extremely well and we all had good views.
Common Green Magpie Cissa chinensis
This wonderful species was heard on several occasions in Da Lat, Tam Dao and Cuc Phuong. We were unfortunately unable to produce a sighting.
Racket-Tailed Treepie Crypsirina temia
Quick views of a bird in Cat Tien on the 19th.
Ratchet-tailed Treepie Temnurus temnurus
We enjoyed a large group of these birds in Cuc Phuong and through the scope we saw the typical tail shape.
Large-billed Crow Corvus japonensis
One bird seen flying in the distant from the car while driving towards Cat Tien on the 19th.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustico
Common throughout our stay in Cat Tien.
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Common throughout our stay in Cat Tien.
Common House-Martin Delichon urbicum
Few birds flying above the grasslands in Cat Tien on the 20th.
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
One bird foraging heavily along a river in the Bidoup NP on the 25th. We all had good views of this
Tits, Chickadees & Titmice
Japanese Tit Parus minor
One bird next to the hotel in Tam Dao and a couple in a tree during our visit to the Bai Dinh pagoda.
Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea
We had breathtaking views of an immaculate individual on 3 yards distance displaying. Another bird was seen in Cuc Phuong.
Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus
Two birds at the waterfall of Da Lat showed very well in some bushes on 3 yards from us.
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis
One bird showed in the top of the tree and through the scope we had good views in Bidoup NP.
Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris
We had several good views of this amazingly looking Bulbul around Da Lat where it was rather common. In Cuc Phuong we came across a few individuals on 3 days of birding.
Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster
Excellent scope views of two perched birds of the yellow vented subspecies in the bamboo areas of Cat Tien NP. In Tam Dao we saw a few birds of the red vented subspecies.
Stripe-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysoni Common throughout our stay in Cat Tien and Cuc Phuong.
Flavescent Bulbul Pycnonotus flavescens
On bird seen very well on the morning of the 27th in the valley near Da Lat of the hallae race.
Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi
Common throughout our stay in Cat Tien.
Puff-throated Bulbul Alophoixus pallidus
One bird seen in Da Lat and several birds in mixed flocks of passerines in Tam Dao.
Gray-eyed Bulbul Iole propinqua
We saw one bird in a group of Black-crested Bulbuls on the 30th which was discovered by Bob!
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
This species showed very well and was very common in the hills around Dalat and in the hills of Tam Dao.
Ashy Bulbul Hemixos flavala
One bird together with two Black-throated Tits showed very well on a couple of yards.
Mountain Bulbul Ixos (Hypsipetes) mcclellandii
Pygmy Cupwing Pnoepyga pusilla
One individual was heard briefly in the hills nearby Da Lat.
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus iornatus
Common throughout the tour.
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis
One bird in a group of warblers in the Bidoup NP on the 25th showed quickly and several birds were seen
in Cuc Phuong where this winter visitor was more common. Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes
Excellent views of this skulky bird, one individual perched in the top of a tree allowed us to view it through the scope in Cat Tien NP.
Blyth’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
In a group of warblers were a few individuals foraging heavily around a couple of tree trunks lying in the river in Bidoup NP.
Davison’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus davisoni
Common in the hills around Da Lat and a few sightings as well in Tam Dao. Limestone Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus calciatilis
One bird was taken by a Pied Falconet on around 5 yards distance from us in the Cuc Phuong NP.
Cisticolas & Allies
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
We saw one bird near the hotel in Tam Dao but more common in the forests of Cuc Phuong. Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis
One bird heard in the grassland area of Cat Tien and two more heard along the path near the headquarters.
Hill Prinia Prinia superciliaris
One bird showed well in the hills around Da Lat on the 24th during our afternoon excursion.
Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens
This prinia showed itself very briefly, we had poor views of this species. Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris
Superb scope views of a male in the top of a bush on the 20th during our afternoon excursion in Cat Tien.
White-eyes, Yuhinas & Allies
Indochinese Yuhina Yuhina torqueola
We had a large group crossing the road in Tam Dao NP on the 29th. Some birds were very obliging!
Tree-, Scimitar-Babblers & Allies
This master skulker came up for a few seconds allowing us to see its white throat and chestnut colored cap on the 19th during our visit to the grasslands in Cat Tien.
Pin-striped Tit-Babbler Mixornis gularis
One bird was singing in Cat Tien NP and we had quick views of a couple in Cuc Phuong.
Golden Babbler Cyanoderma chrysaeum
One gorgeous babbler was found in the group of Indochinese Yuhina crossing the road in Tam Dao on the 29th.
Large Scimitar-Babbler Megapomatorhinus hypoleucos
Few birds were heard from the scrub along the main track in Cuc Phuong. Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis
One bird was heard during a morning excursion in Tam Dao.
Gray-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps
One bird was herd only in the hills near Da Lat.
Ground Babblers & Allies
Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps
Two birds feeding in the jungle simultaneously with both pitta species in Cat Tien.
Abbott’s Babbler Turdinus abbiotti
Several birds feeding feed in the jungle where we enjoyed as well the pittas and puff-throated babblers.
Laughingthrushes & Allies
Mountain Fulvetta Alcippe peracensis
Common bird in the Da Lat region, seen around Dalat and on our excursion to Bidoup NP. White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulux leucolophus
One bird was singing loudly from the bamboo forest along the path near the headquarters in Cat Tien on the 21st. On our last day in Cat Tien we had a small group moving fast through the jungle. We managed to
get a few birds in our bins.
Black-hooded Laughingthrush (E) Garrulax millet
One bird was seen quickly along the road in the Bidoup NP on the 25th.
Gray Laughingthrush Garrulax maesi
We heard a bird calling close to the main road in the Tam Dao National Park. Black-throated Laughingthrush Ianthocinla chinensis
We heard several birds calling along the main road in the Cuc Phuong NP. White-cheeked Laughingthrush (E) Lanthocincla vassali
Very good views of a group of 7 of these endemic birds in the valley near Dalat on the 26th.
Black-headed Sibia Heterophasia desgodinsi
Few brief sightings of this sibia in the Da Lat region.
Up to 30 birds showed themselves extremely well in a large flock during our morning excursion in Tam Dao NP on the 29th.
Rufous-backed Sibia Minla annectens
We enjoyed great views of this very attractive bird during our morning excursion in the hills near Da Lat on the 24th.
Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera
We had good views through the scope of this interesting and good looking species.
Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella
Several birds were seen during the time we birded the south of Vietnam.
Old World Flycatchers
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
In the north of the country we had several birds and some of them showed very well. Especially the bird around our hotel in Cuc Phuong was very obliging.
White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
Very common in Cat Tien and we managed to have excellent looks from our hides during the Pitta excursion. Few birds were seen as well in Cuc Phuong.
White-tailed Flycatcher Cyornis concretus One female was seen briefly by Machiel only in Cuc Phuong.
Hainan Blue Flycatcher Cyornis hainanus
One bird near the road before ending our morning walk in Cat Tien on the 22th showed quick but well.
Pale Blue-Flycatcher Cyornis unicolor
We all managed to have good scope views of this lovely bird on the morning of the 26th during an
excursion in the valley near Dalat.
Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae
One bird was discovered by Joanne right above us while we sat in our hide during the pitta show. The male gave excellent views until it flew of.
Fujian Niltava Niltava davidi
We found a splendid male along the main path of the Cuc Phuong NP – we enjoyed quick scope views.
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thallassinus
One gorgeous male was seen by Machiel briefly during a walk over a trail in the Bidoup NP. One day later we had quick views of a male in the hills near Da Lat.
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans
Common in the jungle of Cat Tien throughout. One bird was found in Cuc Phuong.
Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane
Common in the jungle of Cat Tien throughout.
Slaty-backed Forktail Enicurus schistaceus One gorgeous male showed very well at the river in the Bidoup NP.
Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
We had a cute male winter plumage on the road which gave good views in Cuc Phuong NP.
Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
Common throughout the tour.
Mugumaki Flycatcher Ficedula Mugimaki
One female showed well in the pine forest near the waterfall in Dalat on the 25th. We all had good scope
Plumbeous (Water) Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
This lovely redstart showed well for over a half hour of birding at the river in the Bidoup NP on the 25th.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitaries
One male was very obliging in the Bidoup NP, we saw the bird near the headquarters of the national park.
Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata
Common bird in the open grassland areas of Cat Tien.
Gray Bushchat Saxicola ferreus
Seen on several occasions while birding the Dalat region of the tour. Thrushes & Allies
Orange-headed Thrush Geokickla sibirica
On both days in the Cuc Phuong NP we saw them on the road while driving to our bird spot in the park. In the light of the car we had descent views of these wonderful Thrushes.
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum
We found one bird in the early morning foraging on the main road in the Cuc Phuong NP.
Japanese Thrush Turdus cardis
In the north of the country we saw several birds and all were very skittish, however we did obtain good looks of a bird near the Bai Dinh Pagoda.
Golden-crested Myna Ampeliceps coronatus
Good views in bad light conditions of this rare and difficult to see myna. We saw it on the 19th while
birding the grasslands of Cat Tien.
Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa
Several sightings around our lodge in Cat Tien, we had excellent views.
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Few birds were seen in the Flower Garden and near the pagoda of Da Lat. Vinous-breasted Starling Acridotheres burmannicus Common in the open areas of Cat Tien.
Black-collared Starling Gracupica nigricollis
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis
Two birds were found foraging in front of the restaurant of the Forest Floor Lodge on the 19th in Cat Tien
Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
During our lunch two birds were feeding in the tree next to our table giving outstanding views. Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii
Two birds were seen from our lodge just before leaving the Cat Tien NP. They showed really well for all of us.
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker Dicaeum chrysorrheum Common in Cat Tien throughout.
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
This species proved to be very common in the south of the country especially at Cat Tien.
Sunbirds & Spiderhunters
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis
One bird was feeding on some large purple flowers along the path in Cat Tien on the 21st.
Purple-throated Sunbird Leptocoma sperata
A single bird foraging on some flowers along the road on the 22th in Cat Tien. Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris (Nectarinia) jugularis
Bad light conditions in the evening made the sighting of this lovely sunbird in Cat Tien not the best sighting possible.
Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata
One male was seen foraging on some large flowers in the garden of the restaurant at the waterfall in Da Lat.
Gould’s Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
Two birds were foraging in a large fruiting tree near Da Lat during our first morning excursion nd showed really well. The other days in Da Lat we had brief sightings of these tiny sunbirds.
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
The species was seen on two consecutive days of birding in the Cat Tien NP.
Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
This gorgeous bird was very obliging and we had long looks through the scope, Quang even made some great pictures through the telescope.
Wagtails & Pipits
Gray Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
Around our hotel in the Cuc Phuong NP we saw them daily in the trees; some of them were very obliging and gave wonderful views.
Finches, Euphonias & Allies
Vietnamese Greenfinch Chloris monguilloti
Common in the Da Lat region and seen on every day we were birding in that region. Some sightings were very
Old World Sparrow
Plain-backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus
One bird was seen in the Flower Garden of Da Lat, it perched for a few minutes so we had some scope views of this sparrow.
Waxbills & Allies
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
Small group of around 6 birds were foraging in some little bushes with low grass, we had views from around 7 yards of these lovely munia’s.
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata
Small group of 4 birds showed well in the morning of the 26th during our excursion in the valley near
Dalat. The group consists of 3 females and one lovely male.
Northern Treeshrew Tupaia belangeri
We saw a little family foraging on the ground in the bamboo along the road in Cat Tien during a morning walk on the 22th.
Old World Monkeys
Long-tailed Macaque Macaca fascicularis
One group was feeding on a fruiting tree across the river from our lodge in Cat Tien. We had great scope views of several animals which sat open in the tree.
Buff-cheeked Crested Gibbon Hylobates gabriellae
One load male calling from the tree tops which after some patience started moving and gave us excellent views of this large primate.
Old World Porcupines
Common Malayan Porcupine Hystrix brachyura
One animal crossing the road during an excursion finding the Siamese Fireback.
Vietnam Mouse Deer Tragulus versicolor
We saw one of these tiny even-toed ungulate walking in the undergrowth of the dense vegetation of Cat Tien. What an amazing mammal!
Black Giant Squirrel Ratufa bicolor
This large squirrel was seen well but briefly in the Bidoup NP on the 25th.
Pallas’s Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus
Seen every day while birding in the Cat Tien NP, it was usually common around our lodge. Rudolph’s Striped Squirrel Tamiops rudolphi
We found one in the garden of the restaurant near the waterfall of Da Lat.
Red-cheeked Squirrel Dremomys rufugenis
One was seen in a little village during the drive from Cat Tien to Da Lat while drinking some lovely Vietnamese coffee.
Northern Treefrog Polypedates mutus
One amazing specimen sitting against a small tree was found by our excellent local guide during our walk to the pitta spot.
Red-necked Keelback Rhabdophis subminiatus
One snake we seen briefly hiding in the grass during a morning walk in the Cat Tien NP on the 21st.
Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko