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A Report from

VIETNAM, December 19, 2003 - January 17, 2004,

Greg Roberts

We had excellent weather throughout this trip, with no rain at all and just one day lost to fog at Sapa. The trip was arranged through Nguyen Van Viet There were a couple of glitches, but generally things went smoothly. I had a fractured shoulder, which posed some limitations but not as many as I feared. Glenn Scherf travelled with me.

19/12 Ho Chi Minh City.

20/12 - Cu Chi Tunnels, drive to Dalat, stopping at Di Linh Pass (Deo Nui San). The road here is bitumen all the way to the pass now.  We were put up at the Mimosa Hotel in Dalat but this hotel no longer makes special efforts for birders and is very noisy and basic.

21/12 - Ta Nung Valley- Bao Dai Palace - Datanla Falls. Our driver overshot the turnoff at Ta Nung and by the time we sorted it out, the best part of the morning was over so we had to return here.

22/12 - Ta Nung Valley - Mt Lang Bian. We did not get up the mountain until late because of having to revisit Ta Nung, so missed collared laughingthrush. Best to get a park jeep up to the saddle track starting point on the mountain.

23/12- Ho Tuyen Lam. We took the boat to the right spot but weren't able to find the tracks on the various maps ( they seem to be overgrown) so few birds were seen. Probably best to focus on the other sites.

24/12- Drove to Di Linh Pass early morning, then Cat Tien National Park.

25/12 - Cat Tien, tracks near headquarters, road.

26/12 -  Drove to Crocodile Lake early morning, 5km walk to lake.

27/12 - Cat Tien, tracks near headquarters, road.

28/12 - Crossed Dong Nai River for drive to Ho Chi Minh City, flew to Hanoi.

29-30/12 - Hanoi.

31/12 - Drove to Xuan Thuy National Park, Red River Delta. Stayed at the very basic headquarters accommodation.

1/1/04 - We had logistical problems with our boat (it wasn't there when it was supposed to be, the car got bogged and then road-blocked) so by the time we got to Con Giao Xuan island, at the river mouth, the tide was quite low and birds were widely scattered. We had a 4km walk to the right area. Birds were widely scattered and I thought we had dipped but five spoon-billed sandpipers were finally located. Despite searching through numerous common greenshanks, no nordmann's were seen. Drove to Cuc Phuong.

2/1 - Cuc Phuong National Park, Bong substantion.  Nice site. Ridge and grid trails.

3/1 - Cuc Phuong. Valley and grid trails, lots of noisy Vietnamese teenagers.

4/1 - Cuc Phuong. Road and grid trails.

5/1 - Cuc Phong. Road, drove to Tam Dao, stayed at Rose Hotel (adequate).

6/1 - Tam Dao. Watertank trail, easily located, birds very shy (with restaurants selling such items as 'crispy fried forest birds', not surprising).

7/1 - Tam Dao. Watertank trail, drove to Hanoi, boarded overnight train to Lao Kai.

8/1 - Drove from Lao Kai to Sapa. Royal Hotel, nice. Visited the gardens of Ham Rong Mountain.

9/1 - Sapa. Jeep track above O Quy Ho, fogged out all day.

10/1 - Sapa. Mt Fansipan.   We did not visit the forest below the pass because the tracks looked slippery with my injury, and there were a bunch of heavily armed Hmong men on them with dogs. We walked 8km back towards Sapa from the pass on the road but it was very windy and we saw little.

11/1 - Sapa. Jeep trail above O Quy Ho. Excellent, though I did not find a track into the forest which Hanno Stamm told me about until it was too late to follow it.

12/1 - Sapa. Ham Rong Mountain, Drove to Lao Cai, train to Hanoi.

13/1 - Drove to Haiphong, boat to Cat Ba Island.

14/1 - Cat Ba.

15/1 - Boat trip on Halong Bay.

16/1 - Returned to Hanoi.

17/1 - Left Vietnam.

Field guide - Craig Robson's 2000 A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia.


* denotes lifer, [] heard only

Chinese Francolin (calling Ham Rong),  Red Junglefowl (common Cat Tien),
*Germain's Peacock-Pheasant (Cat Tien - 1 on headquarters trails),
Siamese Fireback (Cat Tien - 2, incl 1 superb male, Crocodile Lake trail),
*Green Peafowl (Cat Tien - 2 subadult males and 1 female near edge of Crocodile Lake about 8am),
Scaly-breasted Partridge (2 on headquarters trails Cat Tien),
Eurasian Widgeon,  Spot-billed Duck (10 Xuan Thuy),  Northern Shoveler,  Little Grebe,
White-browed Piculet (small numbers Cuc Phuong, Tam Dao),
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker (Ho Tuyen Lam, Lang Bian),
Common Flameback (Cat Tien),  Greater Flameback (Cuc Phuong),
Bay Woodpecker (1 Tam Dao),  Lesser Yellownape (2 Cat Tien),
Greater Yellownape (1 Cuc Phuong),
Lineated Barbet (several Cat Tien),  Green-eared Barbet (several Cuc Phuong),
*Red-vented Barbet (1 Cat Tien; 1 Cuc Phuong, others heard),
Golden-throated Barbet (common in mountains),  Coppersmith Barbet,
Blue-eared Barbet (1 Cat Tien),  Black-browed Barbet (common around Dalat),
Great Hornbill (1 Cat Tien),  Wreathed Hornbill (4 Cat Tien),
Oriental Pied Hornbill (common Cat Tien),
Red-headed Trogon (several Cuc Phuong),
Orange-breasted Trogon (2 Cat Tien),
Chesnut-headed Bee-eater (several Cat Tien, Di Linh Pass),
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Di Linh Pass),
Pied Kingfisher,  Common Kingfisher,  White-throated Kingfisher,
Black-capped Kingfisher (1 Ta Nung; 3 Xuan Thuy),
Banded Kingfisher (seen 3 times Cat Tien headquarters trails),
Stork-billed Kingfisher (1 Cat Tien),
[Plaintive Cuckoo (Cat Tien)],  Large Hawk Cuckoo (1 Ho Tuyen Lam),
Greater Coucal,  Lesser Coucal,  Green-billed Malkoha,
Red-breasted Parakeet (common Cat Tien),  Grey-headed Parakeet (several Cat Tien),  Vernal Hanging-Parrot (common Cat Tien),
Dollarbird,  Indian Roller,
House Swift,  Asian Palm Swift,
*Silver-backed Needletail (3 over Dong Nai River, Cat Tien),
[Collared Scops-Owl (Cat Tien)],
Asian Barred Owlet (Cat Tien 1 seen others heard; heard Cuc Phuong),
*Collared Owlet (2 seen separately during day Cuc Phuong),
*Brown Hawk-Owl (1 seen Cat Tien),
Great-eared Nightjar (common Cat Tien),
Green Imperial-Pigeon,  Mountain Imperial-Pigeon (1 Ta Nung),
Orange-breasted Green-Pigeon (several Cat Tien),
Thick-billed Green-Pigeon (2 Cat Tien),
Spotted Dove,  Oriental Turtle-Dove (1 Xuan Thuy),  Emerald Dove,  Rock Dove,
*Barred Cuckoo-Dove (1 Lang Bian),
Brown Crake (1 Xuan Thuy),  Slaty-breasted Rail (4 Xuan Thuy),
White-breasted Waterhen,
Common Greenshank,  Marsh Sandpiper,  Wood Sandpiper,  Common Sandpiper,
Common Redshank,  Curlew-Sandpiper,  Red-necked Stint,  Sanderling,
*Spoon-billed Sandpiper (5 feeding frenetically, avocet-style, in a loose flock with  sanderlings and stints - they took two hours to locate on a falling tide),
Great Knot,  Bar-tailed Godwit,  Eurasian Curlew,  Whimbrel,  Black-necked Stint,
Bronze-winged Jacana (common Crocodile Lake, Cat Tien),
Kentish Plover,  Mongolian Plover,  Grey Plover,  Pacific Golden Plover,
Heuglin's Gull (several Xuan Thuy, Cat Ba),  Black-headed Gull (common Xuan Thuy),
*Saunders's Gull (3 winter plumage Xuan Thuy),
Crested Serpent-Eagle,  Black Kite,  Eurasian Marsh Harrier (common Xuan Thuy),
Shikra,  Black Baza (several Cat Tien),  Grey-faced Buzzard (1 Cuc Phuong),
Black Eagle (2 Cuc Phuong),  Common Buzzard,
Merlin (1 successfully hunting swallows Xuan Thuy),
*Pied Falconet (1 around Bong subst headquarters Cuc Phong),
Purple Heron,  Grey Heron,  Great Egret,  Little Egret,  Striated Heron,
Cattle Egret,  Chinese Pond Heron,  Cinnamon Bittern (2 Cat Tien),
Woolly-necked Stork (4 Crocodile Lake, Cat Tien),  Lesser Adjutant (1 Cat Tien),
*Black-faced Spoonbill (Xuan Thuy - 3 in flyover and 1 feeding near headquarters),
*Blue-rumped Pitta (Cuc Phuong - 1 only but seen well, grid trails),
*Bar-bellied Pitta (Cuc Phuong - 1 near from road, 1 on grid trails; Cat Tien - pair flushed from Crocodile Lake trail, spectacular bird),
Long-tailed Broadbill (several Ta Nung),  Silver-breasted Broadbill (several Cuc Phuong),
Blue-winged Leafbird,  Orange-bellied Leafbird,  Asian Fairy-Bluebird,
Long-tailed Shrike,  Brown Shrike,  Grey-backed Shrike (1 Cuc Phuong),
*Burmese Shrike (2  Ho Tuyen Lam; 2 at Bao Dai Palace, Dalat),
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo,  Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo,
Ashy Drongo,  Black Drongo,  Bronzed Drongo (Cuc Phuong),
Red-billed Blue-Magpie (2 around Sapa),
*White-winged Magpie (3 from road Cuc Phuong),
Racket-tailed Treepie (several Cat Tien),
*Ratchet-tailed Treepie (1 Cuc Phuong on grid trails; 2 Tam Dao),
Large-billed Crow,
Black-naped Oriole,  Black-hooded Oriole,
Maroon Oriole (several Cuc Phuong, Ho Tuyen Lam),
Great Iora (Cat Tien),  Common Iora,
Large Cuckoo-shrike (1 Ta Nung),  Indochinese Cuckoo-shrike (2 Ho Tuyen Lam),
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike,  Large Wood-shrike (Cuc Phuong),
Scarlet Minivet,  Long-tailed Minivet (Lang Bian - endemic race annamensis),
White-throated Fantail,  Asian Paradise-Flycatcher,  Black-naped Monarch,
Blue Rock-Thrush (common Cat Ba),
Blue Whistling-Thrush (Tam Dao both wintering caeruleus and eugenei),
Scaly Thrush (common Cuc Phuong),
Japanese Thrush (several Cuc Phuong),
*Black-breasted Thrush (2 Cuc Phuong; 1 Tam Dao),
Eurasian Blackbird (Cuc Phuong),  Eye-browed Thrush (Ho Tuyen Lam),
*Dusky Thrush (2 Ham Rong, Sapa - Robson does not record the species for West Tonkin; at least 1 Tam Dao),
*Fujian Niltava (1 Cuc Phuong grid trails),
Asian Brown Flycatcher,  Red-throated Flycatcher,
Verditer Flycatcher,  Little Pied Flycatcher,
*Ferruginous Flycatcher (1 Ham Rong),
Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher (several around Sapa),
*Mugimaki Flycatcher (1 Ta Nung),
Hill Blue-Flycatcher (2 Ta Nung),  Tickell's Blue-Flycatcher (2 Cat Tien),
[Lesser Shortwing (Ho Tuyen Lam)],  Siberian Blue-Robin (several Cuc Phuong, 1 Cat Tien),
*Rufous-tailed Robin (Cuc Phuong - 3 on grid trails),
Oriental Magpie-Robin,  White-rumped Shama,  White-tailed Robin (1 Cuc Phuong),
Orange-flanked Bluetail (several around Sapa, Tam Dao),
*Daurian Redstart (1 Ham Rong),
Blue-fronted Redstart (several around Sapa),  Siberian Stonechat,  Grey Bushchat,
Black-necked Starling (Hu Tuyen Lam),  Red-billed Starling (2 Xuan Thuy),
*Vinous-breasted Starling (2 Cat Tien),
Crested Myna,  Hill Myna (Cat Tien),  Golden-crested Myna (common Cat Tien),
Common Myna,
Chesnut-vented Nuthatch (several Ho Tuyen Lam, Lang Bian),
*Yellow-billed Nuthatch (1 at Di Linh Pass;  1 at Ho Tuyen Lam),
Brown-throated Treecreeper (1 Ho Tuyen Lam),
Great Tit (Cat Ba),  Green-backed Tit (2 Lang Bian endemic race legendrei),
*Sultan Tit (Cuc Phuong - grid trails and around staff quarters; Tam Dao - seen twice),
Black-throated Tit (several Lang Bian endemic race annamensis),
Yellow-cheeked Tit (Lang Bian, O Quy Ho),
Barn Swallow,
*Crested Finchbill (80-100 in mixed flock with following species above O Quy Ho),
*Collared Finchbill (20-30 in mixed flock with previous species above O Quy Ho),
Red-whiskered Bulbul,  Stripe-throated Bulbul,  Black-crested Bulbul,
Black-headed Bulbul,  Ashy Bulbul (Ta Nung),  Chesnut Bulbul (1 Tam Dao),
*Brown-breasted Bulbul (common about Sapa),
Light-vented Bulbul (common about Cat Ba),  Ochraceous Bulbul (Di Linh, Cat Tien),
Sooty-headed Bulbul (Ho Tuyen Lam),  Grey-eyed Bulbul (Cat Tien, Cuc Phuong),
Puff-throated Bulbul (Cuc Phuong, Cat Tien),  Black Bulbul races sinensis and leucocephalus together at Tam Dao),   Mountain Bulbul,
Hill Prinia (common about Sapa),  Yellow-bellied Prinia (Xuan Thuy endemic race sonitans),  Plain Prinia,  Rufescent Prinia,
Common Tailorbird,  Dark-necked Tailorbird,  Mountain Tailorbird,
*Asian Stubtail (1 Tam Dao),
*Manchurian Bush-Warbler (1 Xuan Thuy),
*Russet Bush-Warbler (1 Cuc Phuong grid trails),
*Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler (1 seen others heard above O Quy Ho),
*Rusty-rumped (Pallas's) Warbler (1 Cat Tien, Crocodile Lake),
Black-browed Reed-Warbler (2 Cat Tien, Crocodile Lake),
Oriental Reed-Warbler,
*Lemon-rumped (Pallas's) Leaf-Warbler (several Tam Dao),
*Buff-throated Warbler (1 Ham Rong),
Inornate Warbler,  Two-barred Warbler,
Blyth's Leaf-Warbler,  Radde's Warbler (1 Cat Tien),
Dusky Warbler (common Xuan Thuy),  Sulphur-breasted Warbler (several Cuc Phuong),
*Eastern Crowned Warbler (2 in Temple of Literature, Hanoi; 2 Cuc Phuong),
White-tailed Leaf-Warbler,  Chesnut-crowned Warbler (1 Tam Dao),
*White-spectacled Warbler (1 Ho Tuyen Lam; 3 Ta Nung),
*Grey-crowned Warbler (several Cuc Phuong, Tam Dao; 1 Ham Rong, possibly bianchi's),
*Grey-bellied Tesia (1 Ta Nung, others heard),
Japanese White-eye,  Oriental White-eye,
White-crested Laughingthrush (several Cat Tien),
*Black-hooded Laughingthrush (2 Ta Nung),
*White-cheeked Laughingthrush (flock of 10 Lang Bian),
*Grey Laughingthrush (flock of 5 Tam Dao),
Black-throated Laughingthrush (common Tam Dao),
[Spot-breasted Laughingthrush (Di Linh Pass)],
*White-browed Laughingthrush (several above O Quy Ho),
Buff-breasted Babbler (1 Cuc Phuong),  Scaly-crowned Babbler (Cuc Phuong, Cat Tien),
Puff-throated Babbler (Cuc Phuong, Cat Tien),
*Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler (at least 2 in mixed flock with following species Tam Dao),
*Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler (at least 1 in mixed flock with preceding species Tam Dao),
*Limestone Wren-Babbler (Cuc Phuong - singles on Ridge and Valley trails),
[Eye-browed Wren-Babbler (Cuc Phuong)],
Golden Babbler (common Tam Dao),  Grey-throated Babbler (Cuc Phuong, Tam Dao),
*Rufous-capped Babbler (several Ta Nung, Ho Tuyen Lam),
*Grey-faced Tit-Babbler (several along road, Cat Tien),
Striped Tit-Babbler,  White-browed Shrike-Babbler (1 Tam Dao),  Black-eared Shrike-Babbler (2 above O Quy Ho),  Chesnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler (2 Ta Nung),
*Red-tailed Minla (2 parties above O Quy Ho),
Chesnut-tailed Minla ( several above O Quy Ho),  Blue-winged Minla (several Ta Nung endemic race orientalis and above O Quy Ho),  Silver-eared Mesia (Tam Dao),
*Rufous-throated Fulvetta (common Cuc Phuong),
*Rusty-capped Fulvetta (1 above O Quy Ho, others heard),
*Golden-breasted Fulvetta (party below Mt Fansipan pass),
Mountain Fulvetta (common about Dalat),
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta (common Tam Dao),
*Black-browed (Brown-cheeked/Mountain) Fulvetta (common Cuc Phuong),
*Grey-crowned Crocias (Ta Nung  - 2 pairs either side of creek, 1 with feeding party),
Spectacled Barwing (several above O Quy Ho and near Sapa),
*Grey-headed Parrotbill (small party Di Linh Pass endemic race margaritae),
*Spot-breasted Parrotbill (parties above O Quy Ho and near Sapa),
*Short-tailed Parrotbill (at least 1 with yuhinas Tam Dao),
Whiskered Yuhina (common about Sapa),
*White-collared Yuhina (common above O Quy Ho),
Streak-throated Yuhina (several near pass, Mt Fansipan),  White-bellied Yuhina,
*Black-chinned Yuhina (small party Tam Dao),
Plain Flowerpecker (1 Tam Dao),
 Gould's Sunbird (common about Sapa),  Fork-tailed Sunbird (common Cuc Phuong),
Black-throated Sunbird (1 Di Linh Pass endemic race johnsi),
Green-tailed Sunbird (several Mt Fansipan),  Crimson Sunbird (Cat Tien),
Streaked Spiderhunter,  Little Spiderhunter,
White Wagtail,  Yellow Wagtail,  Grey Wagtail,  Olive-backed Pipit,
*Forest Wagtail (Cat Tien - 1 visiting pool on road),
Tree Sparrow, Common Rosefinch (several above O Quy Ho),
White-rumped Munia (Cat Tien),
*Vietnamese Greenfinch (2 Di Linh Pass),
*Black-headed Greenfinch (1 Ham Rong; party above O Quy Ho),
Red Crossbill (common Ho Tuyen Lam endemic race meridionalis),
*Little Bunting (common about Sapa).

Total 295, 64 lifers


Barking Deer,  Black (Malayan) Giant-Squirrel (common in mountains),
*Duoc Langur (2 parties on track to Crocodile Lake, Cat Tien),
[White-cheeked Gibbon (Cat Tien, Ho Tuyen Lam)],
Rhesus Macaque (Cat Tien),  Long-tailed Macaque (Cat Ba),
*Large Indian Civet (1 spotlit Cat Tien),
Malay Tree-Shrew (common Cat Tien),
*Northern Smooth-tailed Tree-Shrew (several Cuc Phuong).


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