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South Vietnam: Endemics and Pittas, April 3 - April 15, 2007,
The following report details a recent visit to southern Vietnam from Hong Kong where I currently live. My aim was threefold: to seek out the endemic and near-endemic species that occur in Cochinchina and South Annam; to look for the five regular species of pitta that are possible in the region; and to do some general tropical-forest birding. The trip was, by-and-large, successful in that I saw most of the endemic/near-endemics that I was looking for, as well as managing to see all five species of pitta.
The birdwatching circuit in southern Vietnam is now well-established, with most birders taking in the various sites around Da Lat, Deo Nui San near Di Linh, and Cat Tien National Park. It is possible to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and access all these places independently. However, most birders with limited time on their hands tend to use an agent to arrange transport, accommodation, permits etc. This is very convenient and saves a lot of hassle. Like many other birders, I used the excellent services of Mr Nguyen Van Viet, the director of Vietam Travel (note the lack of an n in the company name). The contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The telephone number is +88-8-8203486; the fax number is +84-8-8201179. The website of the company is www.vietamtravel.net. I made all of the arrangements via email.
The total cost (excluding airfares & visa which I organised myself in Hong Kong) from 3rd – 15th April (see itinerary below) for private car transfer & transport, accommodation and permit to Cat Tien was US$1030. Half of this was payable as deposit by bank transfer to a bank in Vietnam. The remaining fifty- percent was paid in US$ cash on arrival in Vietnam.
Below is my itinerary (based on my specific requirements regarding sites) as agreed upon after consultation with Viet Nguyen:
Date - 2007
Arrive in HCMC at 9.35 pm
Greet & transfer to hotel
8.00 am Depart to Da Lat
Birding Da Lat
Birding Da Lat
Birding Da Lat
AM: Da Lat – 12.00 Drive to Bao Loc
Birding Deo Nui San
AM: Drive to Cat Tien – PM: Birding
Birding Cat Tien
Birding Cat Tien
Birding Cat Tien
AM: Birding Cat Tien
12:00 Pick up & drive to HCMC
4 am Transfer to HCMC airport for flight to HK
TOUR COST : US$ 1030
The itinerary was designed to give me enough time in Da Lat to cover the three major sites: Ta Nung, Mount Lang Bian & Ho Tuyen Lam. It also allowed time to visit the Datanla Waterfall area which is a small area very close to the town. Ta Nung is birdable in half a day. Mount Lang Bian and Ho Tuyen Lam are essentially full day birding, although at a push, could be covered in half a day. In the event, I birded Datanla Waterfall on the afternoon of April 4th, Ta Nung in the morning & early afternoon of April 5th with a further visit to Datanla Waterfall later that afternoon, Mount Lang Bian on April 6th and Ho Tuyen Lam on April 7th. In retrospect, if time had allowed, I would perhaps have added a day or two to revisit Mount Lang Bian and/or Ho Tuyen Lam.
On April 8th, I changed the itinerary a little as we left early in the morning, so I could spend the whole day birding at Deo Nui San. Also on April 10th, I asked the driver if we could spend the morning (6.00 – 8.30 am) again at Deo Nui San before heading to Cat Tien. The driver phoned Vietam Travel to see if this was possible. There was no problem. After birding Deo Nui San, the driver took me to Cat Tien and left me there. Another driver picked me up at Cat Tien on 14th April to take me back to Ho Chi Minh City. (As with Da Lat, I feel that a day or two more at Cat Tien would have been worthwhile.)
Although the driver spoke little English, there were few problems as he knew all the birding sites in Da Lat. He was very efficient and always punctual. Early starts (5 am most days) were no problem.
This was all arranged through Vietam Travel. All rooms were self-contained. The Asian in Ho Chi Minh City and the Thanh The in Da Lat were mid-range accommodation and were fine. The Hai Van in Bao Loc was more basic and on the first night the singing (sic) from a nearby karaoke lounge was deafening. Fortunately, the caterwauling finished at 10 pm. I am sure there are better hotels in Bao Loc – perhaps the Bao Loc Tourist Hotel, which was 200 metres or so from the Hai Van. The Bao Loc was where I had my evening meals. I understand it is now possible to stay in Di Linh itself, which is far more convenient. I know that some birders (Richard Craik et al) stayed at the Anh Kiet Hotel in Di Linh in April.
At Cat Tien, I had an en suite room, which was one of four near the restaurant that was raised above the ground on concrete stilts. It backed onto forest and I had Racket-tailed Treepies perched almost within touching distance of my window, as well as other birds. The room was fairly basic and had plenty of insect life (but no mosquitoes); there was an a/c and a fan and also a television which I never turned on. The food in the restaurant was edible and there was a plentiful supply of water and beer. There was also a karaoke/sauna/massage place next to the restaurant where you could ease your aching muscles after a hard day in the field, or, I imagine, your aching muscle if you were that way inclined.
Note: The Hai Van Hotel and the lodge at Cat Tien provided only a bottom sheet on the bed; there was no top sheet. The Hai Van provided a duvet and the lodge at Cat Tien provided a blanket. I doubt that these were washed/cleaned between a changeover of visitors. Such arrangements are not unusual in cheap lodgings in Southeast Asia, but if you are fastidious you might consider packing a light top sheet in your bag.
In the Central Highlands (April 4th – 8th), it was coolish at night, warm early and late during the day and quite hot in the middle of the day. However, birding was possible without too much discomfort from dawn to dusk.
Deo Nui San (April 8th – 10th) was comfortable in the early morning and late afternoon, but was drainingly hot in the middle of the day. On the first day I managed to bird all the way through, but on the second day I rested overlooking the stream for a couple of hours during the hottest part of the day.
Cat Tien (April 10th – 14th) was hotter still and I took a siesta on most days. Even on the full day trip to Crocodile Lake, I spent the hottest hours on the verandah of the ranger station there.
There was a tendency for the mornings to be clear but for it to cloud over in the afternoon. It rained late in the afternoon on both days I was at Deo Nui San and I had one late afternoon of very heavy rain at Cat Tien, which put a stop to my birding for the remainder of that day.
There are no great health problems in southern Vietnam at this time of the year. Bottled water is readily available and you should make sure you have an adequate supply in the field. Suntan cream and insect repellent are also advisable. I encountered few leeches; the only one that “got” me was on Mount Lang Bian (paradoxically, the driest place that I birded) and I didn’t know about it until after the event when, back at the hotel, I saw my sock was bloodstained around the ankle. I also saw a couple of leeches along the Bau Sau trail at Cat Tien after a downpour the previous day. Other birders I met encountered them at Ta Nung. So while there are still some around at the end of the dry season, they are found only in small numbers and are no great problem. The same is true of mosquitoes and there seems to be no need to take malarial prophylactics.
On birding holidays I tend to snack during the day – missing breakfast and lunch – and have a good meal in the evening. I took a good supply of tracker bars, dried fruit etc. with me from Hong Kong and this lasted me for the duration of the trip. There are a number of bakeries in Da Lat near the Long Hoa restaurant, so I bought sandwiches and croissants at one of these in the evening to have on the following day. At Deo Nui San, I existed on the snacks I’d brought with me, but it would be possible to have a mid-day break and get your driver to take you into Di Linh for lunch. Most days at Cat Tien I had lunch in the restaurant as it gets very hot there from late morning onwards and an afternoon siesta was welcome. I was invariably up too early to have breakfast anywhere.
Birding in southern Vietnam is centred on tropical evergreen forest, which is arguably the most challenging habitat to birdwatch in. It can certainly be frustrating with many more birds heard than seen, and those birds that are seen are often quickly glimpsed through thick vegetation. Patience and persistence are much needed. Bird activity is at its most intense soon after dawn and the first rays of sunlight on the trees can attract many birds. Fruiting trees can also be very productive. Pre-trip research into the calls of birds likely to be encountered is very useful.
Forest birding on the south Vietnam circuit involves walking along trails, tracks or roads.
Trails mean single-file birding where you can feel hemmed-in by the trees. Visibility, except in the vicinity of clearings, is often limited. You sometimes have to climb over or stoop under fallen trees. Trails may cross streams, which might involve getting your feet wet. Because they are enclosed, trails can provide shade during the heat of the day. Trails also often yield up the most sought after species such as pheasants, partridges, pittas and laughingthrushes. A tape, used sparingly, may be essential to call out some of these species. Important trails mentioned below are the lower trail at Ta Nung, the summit and contour trails at Mount Lang Bian, the trails through the forests at Ho Tuyen Lam, the tea stall trail at Deo Nui San, and various trails at Cat Tien.
Tracks are wider, and have been cut for vehicular access. They are usually unsealed, and may be rutted and potholed, meaning that they are only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles with a high clearance. Being more open, they provide a wider view than trails. The various tracks at Cat Tien can be excellent for birds and the logging tracks at Deo Nui San hold Green Cochoa amongst other species.
Sealed roads through forest can offer the best forest birding of all if the traffic is light. The road at Deo Nui San (Km80 – Km 75) can be excellent early in the morning.
Most birders visiting south Vietnam focus on seeing certain species. First and foremost are the following endemics: Orange-necked Partridge, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Collared Laughingthrush, Grey-crowned Crocia and Vietnamese Greenfinch.
Nowadays, a number of researchers/birders give full species status to a number of what were previously considered to be distinctive subspecies. The following list gives the name as given in Robson (2000) followed by the new English name currently used by some birders to indicate full-species status: Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus annamensis = Grey-crowned Tit; Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps klossi = Black-crowned Fulvetta; Cutia Cutia nipalensis legalleni = Vietnamese Cutia; Grey-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis gularis margaritae = Black-capped Parrotbill; Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra meridionalis = Vietnamese Crossbill.
Other distinctive subspecies that are perhaps potential splits are Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera orientalis, Rufous-backed Sibia Heterophasia annectens eximia, and Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata johnsi.
In addition to the above, the following near-endemics will be on most birders wish-lists: Germain’s Peacock Pheasant (east Cambodia, C (south), S Annam, Cochinchina), Black-hooded Laughingthrush (east S Laos, C, S Annam), and White-cheeked Laughingthrush (east Cambodia, S Laos, C, S Annam).
Other popular species that most birders would be keen on seeing include: Scaly-breasted Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Green Peafowl, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Red-vented Barbet, Banded Kingfisher, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Javan Frogmouth, Great-eared Nighjar, Woolly-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Blue-rumped Pitta, Rusty-naped Pitta, Blue Pitta, Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-winged Pitta, Indochinese Green Magpie, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Spotted Forktail, Green Cochoa, Golden-crested Mynah, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Grey-bellied Tesia, Large Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Streaked Wren Babbler, Eyebrowed Wren Babbler and Grey-faced Tit Babbler.
Robson, Craig A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia, 2000
Robson, Craig New Holland Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia, 2005
The first is the original hardback edition of the field guide, the second the modified, more user-friendly, plastic-covered paperback of the same. I left the hardback in my room to be used for reference if needs be, and took the paperback into the field every day.
Wheatley, N. Where to watch birds in Asia, 1996
Various authors Oriental Bird Club Bulletin 33, Special Issue on Vietnam, June 2001.
Both of these provide a general overview of the important birds and sites in Vietnam.
There are now a fair number of trip reports of Vietnam available on the internet. The following are the ones I consulted:
Hendriks, Henk. Vietnam, 25 February-24 March, 2006
This is the most recent trip report available and is, in my opinion, essential as it contains updated maps to all the areas I visited, as well as to the key sites in North Vietnam.
Stamm, Hanno. Da Lat March-April 2005…In Search of Vietnamese Endemics
Allison, G.W. Vietnam, 15th March – 3rd April 2004
Rheindt, Frank E. Worldtwitch –Birding Vietnam, April 8 – June 5 2003
Wallace, Moira and Graeme Wallace. Vietnam 21February – 20 Marc 2002
Fischer, David. Trip Report: South Vietnam, March 13-27, 1999
There are three independently published trip reports as follows:
Gee, Brian. Vietnam, 7 November – 5 December 1996
Available from Natural History Book Society.
Holmes, Paul. Vietnam 22nd Nov. – 14th Dec. 1999
Available from Oriental Bird Club.
Woods, Sam and Adcock, Andy. Vietnam 7th March – 4th April 2002
Available from Oriental Bird Club.
Most of those who have birded Vietnam in recent years have drawn upon these three reports as they contain useful site maps and are still worth purchasing, although now perhaps somewhat superseded by Henk Hendrik’s report referred to above.
SONGS AND CALLS
Scharringa, Jelle Birds of Tropical Asia : Sounds and Sights DVD-ROM for Windows, 2005
Available from WildSounds.
Ray, N. and Yanagihara, W. Vietnam, Lonely Planet, 2005.
A brief nod of thanks to the birdwatchers I bumped into on my trip and who shared information with me. These were Richard Craik et al at Mount Lang Bian and Ho Tuyen Lam, and Ian Mills et al at Cat Tien. Albert Low, who was one of the three birdwatchers with Richard Craik, posted an interesting summary of his sightings on the Oriental Birding Yahoo group on April 10th (posting 8991).
THE BIRDING SITES
The following draws heavily on the trip reports mentioned above, most notably those by Henk Hendriks and Paul Holmes.
Da Lat is an old French hill station at 1475m elevation and is roughly 300km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. It takes 6-7 hours by road to reach there along Highway 20. Cat Tien lies off this highway near Madagui some 150km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. This is a low-lying area, being only about 130m above sea-level. It is a three-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. Di Linh is about 2 hours drive from Cat Tien on the way to Da Lat. I drove to Da Lat, then backtracked to Di Linh and then Cat Tien. Other birders do Cat Tien first. A useful rough sketchmap of these places in relation to each other can be found in Holmes (1999).
NB: In retrospect, given the dates of my trip, I would have birded Cat Tien first rather than Da Lat. Most birders and birdwatching companies do the circuit in February/March, which is probably the optimum time. In April, getting closer to the end of the dry season, it is hotter and bird activity diminishes – especially in the lowlands. My impression was that birds were less easy at Cat Tien during my stay (April 10th – 14th) than they had been even a few days before. Germain’s Peacock Pheasant and Blue-rumped Pitta were proving elusive for some, and certain species such as Scaly-breasted Partridge were far less common than usual.
Da Lat lies in the central highlands and the main birding sites consist of remnant patches of montane evergreen forest. Extensive pine forests also support a number of interesting species. There is a good map in Holmes (1999) that depicts the main sites around the town and outs their locations into perspective. None of the access points to the four key sites mentioned below is more than twenty minutes drive from the town centre
Ta Nung lies 20 minutes drive to the northeast of the town. There are useful maps and access details in Holmes (1999) and Hendriks (2006). The main target species here is the endemic Grey-crowned Crocia and I found them easily in the early morning in the trees around what are marked as small farm houses in Hendriks, but look more like forest shelters than actual houses. (There is a more substantial building near the barrier.) Apart from along the main access track, the best birding is probably along the lower forest trail, which runs close to and parallel to the stream. I initially accessed the trail by walking to the dam and then turning right parallel to what is marked as a pond in Hendriks, but was dry when I was there, as was the small reservoir. I walked as far as the stream crossing, but did not proceed much further as the track goes steeply uphill once you’re over the stream (but birders have had Blue Pitta further along here). The area near the stream crossing held Lesser Shortwing (taped out), Red-billed Scimitar Babbler and Orange-breasted Laughingthrush (heard only). The upper trail depicted by Hendriks gives good views over the remnant forest, but was generally unproductive in the middle of the day. The trail leading down to the lower trail is closer to the rosefield than shown in the map. It is not easy to find this connecting trail from the lower trail until you’ve accessed it from the upper trail. The stream to the left of the dam and reservoir on Hendriks’ map is worth exploring for possible White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Black-hooded Laughingthrushes, Blue Pitta and Red-vented Barbet. Indochinese Green Magpie, Black-throated Tit and Vietnamese Greenfinch also occur at Ta Nung. Half a day’s birding may be sufficient at this site.
Mount Lang Bian
Mount Lang Bian rises to a height of 2167m and a steep trail leads to the summit. Most birders don’t make it to the top, however, as the best birding is in a relatively small area as shown on the maps in the trip reports mentioned above. Access is from the HQ at the foot of the mountain, 15 minutes drive from Da Lat. There is a 7,000 dong entrance fee to the park and it now costs a relatively expensive 150,000 dong for the jeep-ride along the sealed road up to the access track which goes through pines and later becomes a narrow trail descending through scrub to a gully and the montane forest proper. It is possible to walk the four km up to the track, but the jeep-ride certainly saves time and energy. They are accustomed to early-rising birdwatchers here, and my driver quickly arranged for a jeep to take me up the mountain when we arrived there just before 6 am.
It is 30 minutes walk from the start of the track down to the gully. After the gully, the trail splits; the trail off to the left is known as the contour trail, and the trail ahead leads up the mountain. Note that maps in the trip reports show the main contour trail leading directly off the main trail and another small trail leading off to the left a little further on and connecting with the contour trail. The main access to the contour trail (the first left turn) is now blocked by a tree, which can be confusing, so access is now along the second left turn. The contour trail should be birded for at least a couple of hundred metres until where there is an obvious left-hand loop in the trail with a gully down below off to the left. This gully area holds skulkers such as Lesser Shortwing, Grey-bellied Tesia and Pygmy Wren Babbler. It is known as a possible site for Collared Laughingthrush, which is the key target species on the mountain. I also had a male Snowy-browed Flycatcher singing here. Richard Craik & party had Yellow-billed Nuthatch along the contour trail on the day I was there, but this is apparently rather unusual.
The key sites for Collared Laughingthrush are anywhere from the gully on the main trail up until a clearing in the forest (five minutes fast walk from the junction with the contour trail as it begins to climb towards the summit). The laughingthrushes can be fairly easily heard, but can be difficult to see – it is probable that the birds are becoming less responsive to tapes due to overuse. There are a number of other good forest birds possible in this area, including Cutia, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Rufous-throated Partridge, White-tailed Robin and Black-throated Tit. The pines along the access track (and further down the mountain) support Vietnamese Greenfinches and Vietnamese Crossbills amongst other species.
Ho Tuyen Lam
Ho Tuyen Lam is a man-made lake that supports breeding Little Grebe, and a few herons feed in its marshy bays. There are pines and areas of evergreen forest to the south of the lake and a wide variety of interesting species have been recorded. The key species here that is unlikely elsewhere (although see above) is probably Yellow-billed Nuthatch, but Grey-crowned Crocia, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Silver Pheasant, Rusty-naped Pitta, White-tailed Robin, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Cutia, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Eye-browed Wren Babbler, Vietnamese Greenfinch and Vietnamese Crossbill all occur in the area.
The trip reports by Gee (1996), Holmes (1999) and Woods and Adcock (2002) all direct birders to a series of trails on the southern edge of the lake, the access being by boat. This area now seems to be rather overgrown and more difficult to access. Hendriks explored a new site, a little to the east of the traditional site. I followed Hendriks on my visit and I met Richard Craik & friends on the same trail, so this may now be the main birdwatching area at Ho Tuyen Lam.
Complete access details with a good map are given in Hendriks and all kudos to him and his brother for finding this new site to explore. A sealed road now goes all the way along the eastern side of the lake, terminating at a tourist camp. It is 15 minutes drive from Da Lat to the road’s end. You need to walk through the tourist camp along the edge of the lake to a second tourist camp. It takes 30 minutes from the road to the second tourist camp and involves crossing the marshy fingers of small bays. In the rainy season the route here and further on could well be impassable. It is fairly straightforward from the second tourist camp, if you follow Hendriks’ directions carefully, to get up into the good evergreen forest – although it does involve walking along a couple of logs through marshy areas, so you may get your feet wet in the process. It takes about an hour’s walk from the second tourist camp to the montane forest. Note also that the area marked on the map as degraded forest can be excellent.
The good evergreen forest can be rather slow for birding. The trail is dark and enclosed and is largely an uphill walk. It is difficult in such forest to recommend specific areas for birds. However, I walked for about an hour until I came to a small ridge. Here the trail split; one trail led downhill to the left to a small gully. The main trail continued and then descended from the ridge. I took the left trail down to the gully, where trees blocked the route a little way along. In the gully area, as sunlight penetrated the trees, I heard and saw briefly two Orange-breasted Laughingthrushes and a single Yellow-billed Nuthatch. Another area of interest was roughly midway between the entrance to the forest and this ridge. Here, the forest was fairly level for a stretch and more open than elsewhere, just before a small square-shaped clearing. There was a pair of White-browed Scimitar Babblers along here and Richard Craik et al had Black-hooded Laughingthrushes along this stretch.
They also had Grey-crowned Crocias in the degraded forest. I spent a couple of hours beating backwards and forwards along the trail in the degraded forest and saw Silver Pheasant, Rusty-naped Pitta, White-tailed Robin, Eye-browed Wren Babbler and Grey-headed Parrotbill amongst other species.
The pines between the degraded forest and the second tourist camp hold Indochinese Shrike, Cutia, Slender-billed Oriole and Vietnamese Greenfinch.
Datanla Waterfall area
The waterfall lies four km south of Da Lat on the main road to Ho Chi Minh City. It contains a small area of evergreen forest and is a popular tourist attraction. It only takes a few minutes to walk from
the entrance down to the falls. The entrance fee is 5,000 dong. Tourists who don’t want to walk down to the fall can use as kind of mechanised bobsled on an elevated rail to ride down to the bottom. This area is probably worth an hour or two if you have a spare afternoon. The best birds I saw there on two visits were Red-vented Barbet and a male White-throated Rock Thrush. Barred Cuckoo Doves and a Black-browed Barbet were feeding in a fruiting tree.
From the entrance to the waterfall car park a short track leads down to the left. White-cheeked Laughingthrushes occur here. These birds also occur along another track nearby. From the car park walk back towards Da Lat. After a couple of hundred metres, there is a left turn near a golden Buddha statue; this road actually goes to Ho Tuyen Lam. Opposite this turn a track goes under a wooden arch and follows the hillside through a pine forest. White-cheeked Laughingthrushes are regular here, sometimes close to the arch, sometimes further along the track. Other pine-forest birds that can be found here include Burmese Shrike, Slender-billed Oriole and Eurasian Jay.
Deo Nui San
This forested area lies along the old road connecting Di Linh with the seaside town of Phan Thiet. It is about 16 km from Di Linh. The map in Hendriks is the only one available of this site. The birdwatching areas consist of the following: the road between the 80km and 75km markers, particularly Km79-78; the forested trail behind a tea stall near the KM76 marker; the main logging track that can be accessed from the trail where it crosses the stream.
The trail is narrow and enclosed. Soon after its beginning, there is a split. One trail climbs steeply up off to the left; the other continues less steeply but still rising and running parallel to the stream. It is the latter that is depicted on Hendriks’ map. You can follow the trail the relatively short way to the stream crossing. Unfortunately, the trail no longer continues beyond the stream. On the opposite side of the stream to the trail, loggers have gouged a track, felling the trees in the process. This act of environmental vandalism means that the trail past the stream is now blocked by fallen trees. However, it is possible to get across to the logging track, either by climbing precariously along the trees themselves, or by making your way just a little further upstream where it is easier to get across and scramble up the bank. Paradoxically, the cleared area at the termination of the logged track, gives a good view over the forest and stream, and is good for birds.
If you walk along the logging track, it runs parallel to the stream for a short way and then bends to the left, going steeply uphill, where it soon connects with a long-established, central logging track. Following this central track to the right brings you to a dead end at the top of the steep embankment just before the main road. Because of the embankment the main road is frustratingly visible but inaccessible. If you follow the central track to the left, it climbs through pines and evergreen forest. I followed it for an hour or so till it came out onto a ridge amongst pines, giving extensive views over the hills receding in the distance. Various tracks lead off the main track down to the left but most (all?) of these seem to be dead ends. The key bird along this track is Green Cochoa.
The Road: 80km – 75 km
For general tropical-forest birding, these few kilometres along the Di Linh-Phat Tien road are excellent for the number and variety of species to be seen. The road is, in my experience, the best site for Black-hooded Laughingthrush, which I saw on one afternoon and the following morning. Other species seen well included Black Eagle, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Red-billed and White-browed Scimitar Babblers, Indochinese Cuckoo-Shrike, Black-chinned Yuhina, Orange-bellied and Blue-winged Leafbirds, Grey-crowned Tit, Long-tailed Broadbill, Speckled Piculet, White-hooded Babbler, Radde’s Warbler, Mugimaki Flycatcher and Vietnamese Greenfinch. During my visits, there were trees in fruit along the road, and I had excellent views of Black-browed and Golden-throated Barbets. Indochinese Green Magpie has been seen along the road, as well as along the tea stall trail.
The tea stall trail
Far quieter than the road, but is the best place on the south Vietnam circuit for Orange-headed Laughingthrush and Blue Pitta, both of which I only saw along this trail. (I also heard them – but didn’t see them - along the road.) Both, however, need persistence and patience. Black-hooded Laughingthrushes also occur along the trail, but they are easier (at least they were for me) along the road between the 79 and 78km markers. One other target species here is Spotted Forktail which can be found anywhere along the stream. The best place may be the small dam at the beginning of the trail just behind the tea stall. Note: like other forktails, the birds here can be elusive and you could miss them if you were not aware of their presence.
The stream-crossing area
A number of species can be seen from the end of the logged track above the stream. Birds I saw here included Maroon Oriole, White-browed Shrike Babbler, Rufous-backed Sibia, Streaked Wren Babbler and Bay Woodpecker. I also heard Green Cochoa here.
Central logging track
Fairly quiet in the heat of the morning but Little Pied Flycatcher occur and Crested Serpent Eagle breeds along here. I saw Green Cochoa from this track and I know that Ian Mills et al saw this species here too. From the stream go along the new logging track to the main track. Turn left. Follow the track through the pines. Just after you’ve left the last of the pines on your right, the track descends a little. A minor track to the left leads down to the stream – to what I suspect is near the termination of the now- defunct trail marked on Hendriks’ map. He too had Green Cochoa in this area. I heard Green Cochoa here but only saw it on my return along the central track, perched in a tree along another minor trail leading left off the main track just after the minor trail descending to the river described above.
As above, the maps in Hendriks (2006) and Holmes (1999) are both important. Birds can occur anywhere in the national park, but the following are perhaps the key areas that should be visited:
HQ area/HQ trail-Lagerstroemia trail-Uncle Dong trail/ Dac Lua track
All of the above are within easy walking distance of the accommodation and are all clearly marked on the map in Hendriks (apart from the HQ trail – see below).
The HQ area itself consists of accommodation, offices, the reception, a restaurant, a karaoke-cum-massage parlour , a disused swimming pool with scum-covered water etc. There is a certain air of dilapidation to the place, but it’s pleasant enough for a few days stay. Great Eared and Large-tailed Nightjar occur here, as do Collared Scops and Brown Hawk Owl. Oriental Pratincoles may fly over towards the river at dusk. The forest immediately behind the guesthouses supports a range of birds, including Racket-tailed Treepie, Large Iora etc.
Albert Low saw a White-rumped Falcon over the HQ buildings at the end of March 2007.
Not too far from the HQ, there is an interconnecting system of short forest trails, marked as the Lagerstroemia trail and Uncle Dong trail on Hendriks’ map. These trails are good for Bar-bellied and Blue-rumped Pittas, as well as Siberian Blue Robin. Opposite the HQ reception, there is a blue water tower behind an official stone with the words CAT TIEN BIOSPHERE RESERVE engraved on it. From the tower, a track goes between two smart-looking buildings past a small ornamental pond. This track goes through forest and joins the Lagerstroemia trail at a towering tree with huge external roots. I call this the HQ trail and mention it here as a site for Germain’s Peacock Pheasant should other sites, namely the Bau Sau trail, turn up a blank.
The Dac Lua track connects the HQ with Dac Lua 13km to the north. Birding the first few kilometres along this road can be productive. Just before the substation, a trail leads off to the Ben Cu Rapids, a side-channel off the main river. In April this rock-strewn channel was dry apart from a few shallow pools but I was fortunate enough to come upon a fruiting tree on my last morning at the reserve. The tree attracted a good variety of frugivores and I also saw Stork-billed and Black-capped Kingfishers while quietly observing the tree.
The bamboo area around the bridge near to the entrance to the Lagerstroemia trail is a known site for Pale-headed Woodpecker.
Further along the Dac Lua Road, just past the Heaven’s Rapids turn off, I saw Banded Kingfisher, Shikra, Black Baza, Black-and–red Broadbill and Grey-faced Tit Babbler.
Heaven’s Rapids track
This forested track is a couple of kilometres from the HQ off the Dac Lua track. One way of birding this track is to get a jeep in the early morning from HQ and get dropped off a kilometre or two after the actual Rapids and then walk back to the HQ. The bamboo after the Rapids is a known site for Orange-necked Partridge and some birders have been lucky enough to see this species here. A number of forest birds occur along the track including Orange-breasted Trogon, Indochinese Green Magpie and Pale-headed Woodpecker. The best birds I saw were Asian Barred Owlet, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and Scaly-crowned Babbler.
Bau Sau trail – Crocodile Lake
To get to Crocodile Lake you have to walk along the 5km Bau Sau trail. It is necessary to hire transport to take you to the start of the trail and you need to use a guide too. This is easily arranged at the reception building at HQ. There are a couple of experienced birdwatching guides who work in the park. I used Duyen (I think that’s his correct name) who was very good. He had a very keen eye and ear and proved an invaluable companion.
The Bau Sau trail, although 5km long, is well-maintained to allow motorcycle access to the substation at Crocodile Lake. It is flat and there is no scrambling over or under fallen trees as there are along some of the other trails referred to in this report. It is also a little more open than similar trails. Key birds along the trail include Germain’s Peacock Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Great Hornbill, Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, Black-and-red Broadbill and Banded Broadbill.
Crocodile Lake supports a number of waterbirds, including possible Woolly-necked Stork and Lesser Adjutant as well as Grey-headed Fishing Eagle (none of which I saw). It is also known as a site for Green Peafowl at dawn, which is the main reason that birders sometimes overnight at the substation. Note that only a bare mattress is provided; you need to bring your own sheets, pillows, towels etc. I didn’t stay at the substation and, even if you do, there is no guarantee of Green Peafowl. (In fact, I saw Green Peafowl at two other sites – see below.) Asian Golden Weaver occur near the lake, as do Blue-winged Pittas.
Cost of transport to and from the Bau Sau trail was 250,000 dong. The guide cost 300,000 dong for a full day. (NB: there is a catch here. Half-day = 4 hours maximum. Full day = 8 hours maximum. As the guide was with me from 5.30 am to 5.30 pm, it was made fairly clear that a tip was expected - to be paid to the guide in person.)
Dac Lua is c.16km west of HQ along the Dac Lua track. There is a good map in Holmes (1999). The habitat is that of a rural village, bamboo hills and (in March and April) a dried-up lake. The bamboo hills are the main site for Orange-necked Partridge, but without a tape you have as much chance of seeing one as I have of sleeping with Nicole Kidman. And, even with a tape, most people only hear but do not see this species. Other possible species include Green Peafowl (along the Dac Lua track), Germain’s Peacock Pheasant, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Large-billed Scimitar Babbler, Woolly-necked Stork, Black-naped Monarch, Brown-streaked Flycatcher and Bright-headed Cisticola. A half-day trip from the HQ (5.30 am – 10.30 am) including transport & guide was 350,000 dong (US$24).
Southern grasslands and grassland pools
If you head south out of the HQ area, after an hour’s walk through secondary growth, bamboo and some forest, you come to an area of more open grassland. You will see an observation tower over on your right. This is accessed by walking to the side of a large wooden house, which is in fact a pig farm. There are a number of channels and pools between the house and the tower, which contain water even at the height of the dry season and therefore hold a few waterbirds, including Cinnamon Bittern. It is the kind of place that could turn up unusual migrants. This area is known as a site for Green Peafowl in the late afternoon. The strategy is to scope the grassland from the tower, but I , in fact, flushed a bird when I was approaching the tower!! Also, I can see no reason why the peafowl would not also be present early in the morning.
Three to four kilometres further on, in a smaller area of grassland, there is a second observation tower, but it is the first tower that is the important one (see daily accounts – April 11th and April 13th below.)
Tuesday April 3rd
Evening United Airlines flight from Hong Kong to Ho Chi Minh City. I was met at the airport by my driver from Vietam Travel and taken to the Asian Hotel in central HCMC.
Wednesday April 4th
At 7 am, there were 150+ House Swifts hawking over the city – seen from the balcony of my hotel. We left HCMC at 8 am and arrived at Da Lat at 2.20 pm after a break at Bao Loc for lunch. The highway was relatively birdless but 20 km before Bao Loc there were 250+ Red-rumped Swallows over the hills, plus an Ashy Woodswallow and a few distant needletails.
After checking in at the Thanh The Hotel, we drove to Datanla Waterfall just outside the town, and I birded in the area from 2.45 – 5.45 pm. The track opposite the turn off to Ho Tuyen Lam (marked by a golden Buddha statue) gave me White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, as well as Slender-billed Orioles, Burmese Shrikes and Chestnut-vented Nuthatches.
The forest at the waterfall itself yielded up Barred Cuckoo Doves, Red-vented Barbet, Large Niltava and a superb male White-throated Rock Thrush.
Thursday April 5th
We left the hotel at 5.20 am and arrived at Ta Nung at 5.40 am. I birded the site until 1.45 pm. Grey-crowned Crocias were vocal and visible at the forest edge near the “small farm houses”. At least 10 Mrs Gould’s Sunbirds and five Black-throated Sunbirds were feeding on flowering bushes near the houses. White-cheeked Laughingthrushes and Red-vented Barbets were along the stream to the left of the dam, but there was no sign of the Black-hooded Laughingthrushes that Hendriks had seen there in 2006. I then walked the main trail parallel to the stream in the valley bottom. This area was quite productive, especially where the trail crossed the stream. I taped out and had excellent views of a Lesser Shortwing and also saw Red-billed Scimitar Babbler. An Orange-headed Laughingthrush was in song along here, but remained invisible. Two Vietnamese Greenfinches perched on pines near the houses, and as I was leaving I heard Black-hooded Laughingthrushes calling from behind the dam.
In the afternoon I visited the area around Datanla Waterfall again and saw much the same species as on the previous day.
Friday April 6th
We left the hotel at 5.30 am and were at the base of Mount Lang Bian at 5.45 am. I took a jeep up the mountain and began walking the track at 5.55 am. The wind was chilly at first, but it then turned sunny for the rest of the day. It was not too hot inside the shade of the evergreen forest. Grey-bellied Tesias and Lesser Shortwings were calling commonly along the trails but proved difficult to see. I finally saw the tesia near the gully along the contour trail. Lesser Shortwing, Pygmy Wren Babbler and Snowy-browed Flycatcher were all singing here too. During the day I bumped into Richard Craik who was with three other birders, and they saw Yellow-billed Nuthatch along the contour trail. They also eventually managed to tape out Collared Laughingthrush along the bottom section of the summit trail. These birds are quite vocal, but can be difficult to see. In fact, it was only when I was about to leave at 3 pm that I finally saw two birds near the deepest point in the gully as shown on the map in Hendriks. Other good birds I saw on the mountain were Cutia (thanks to Richard Craik et al), Rufous-winged Fulvetta and Rufous-throated Partridge. Vietnamese Greenfinches were very visible in the pines along the track to the road.
Saturday April 7th
We left the hotel at 5 am and arrived at the tourist camp car park at Ho Tuyen Lam at 5.15 am. The road is now sealed all the way. I began walking to the second tourist camp at 5.20 am and arrived there at 5.45 am. From there it was quite a trek – and involved walking along a couple of logs through marshy areas - following Hendriks’ directions to the montane forest, where I arrived at 6.40 am. I left t this forest at 11 am and spent a considerable time in the so-called degraded forest. I left that forest at 1.45 pm and was back at the car park at 3.40 pm.
The montane forest proved to be hard work, but eventually gave me my target species, Yellow-billed Nuthatch as well as brief views of Orange-breasted Laughingthrush. Other good birds were White-browed Scimitar Babbler and Black-throated Tit. Richard Craik’s party also saw Black-hooded Laughingthrushes in this forest.
The area of degraded forest provided me with a purple patch. Richard Craik had Grey-crowned Crocias here and I saw a number of excellent birds, including a female Silver Pheasant, Rusty-naped Pitta and Eyebrowed Wren Babbler. The pines on the way back to the tourist camps held Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Vietnamese Greenfinches and Cutia.
Sunday April 8th
After leaving the hotel at Da Lat at 5 am, we arrived at the tea stall at Deo Nui San at 6.30 am. I immediately hit the trail behind the shop and played a tape of Blue Pitta where the trail diverged. I had an immediate response and managed to see the bird as it hopped out onto the trail above me. However, apart from a couple of White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, the trail was otherwise rather quiet. I walked to where the trail met the stream, which was now blocked by logged trees. I managed to get a few more metres upstream, and crossed the shallow water and scrambled up the bank. I birded at the end of the newly-logged track for a while and apart from other birds saw the only Rufous-backed Sibia of the trip. I then spent the next few hours exploring the central logging track that cuts through the forest above the stream. The best birds seen here were an adult and juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle and Grey Nightjar. In the early afternoon I trod the trail again (Bay Woodpecker, Spotted Forktail) and walked a little way along the road in the direction of Phan Tiet (Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Vietnamese Greenfinch).
At 3 pm I started walking along the road in the direction of Di Linh, having indicated to the driver that I wanted him to set off from the tea stall at 4 pm and pick me up en route. Along the road I saw a Grey-headed Parrotbill and just 100 metres after the 78km stone I played a tape of Black-hooded Laughingthrush and had a response above the road to the right. There was also some movement in the vegetation to the left of the road and I had excellent views of at least three laughingthrushes. Further down the road a Black Eagle flew overhead. It was now 4.20 pm and the sky was purpling over, threatening rain. I realised that the driver had not understood my request, so I headed back – somewhat peeved - in the direction of the tea stall. On the way back I saw two Red-billed Scimitar Babblers and heard, but did not see, an Orange-breasted Laughingthrush. I was nearly back at the tea stall when the driver picked me up, having finally realised that something was amiss. To be fair, that was the only time where the lack of communication was a real problem.
We drove into Bao Loc in the rain and checked in to the rather desultory Hai Van Hotel where I had the dubious pleasure of locals karaoking very loudly until 10 pm at an adjacent bar. Not recommended.
Monday April 9th
We left the hotel at 5 am and arrived at Deo Nui San at 5.45 am. I got the driver to drop me a few hundred metres after the 80km marker post and birded the road to the tea stall. The road was, in fact, very productive, particularly between the Km79 and 78 markers as many of the trees there were in fruit. Birds seen included the following: two Indochinese Cuckooshrikes, three Black-chinned Yuhinas, Orange-bellied and Blue-winged Leafbirds, Black-throated Tits, a Long-tailed Broadbill, two White-browed Scimitar Babblers, eight Black-hooded Laughingthrushes, three Speckled Piculets, an Indian Cuckoo (heard) and two White-hooded Babblers.
I hit the tea stall trail at 9.10 am. I heard Blue Pitta and saw two more Long-tailed Broadbills and seven White-cheeked Laughingthrushes. At the stream I heard Green Cochoa. A Streaked Wren Babbler moved amongst the logged trees that lay sprawled across the stream.
Like yesterday, I walked the central logging track and explored a couple of the tracks off to the left. The track was generally unproductive in the rising heat, but I did see an adult Crested Serpent Eagle perched near where I had disturbed the juvenile yesterday. On the way back along the track, I had good views of a Green Cochoa that alighted on a dead tree 40 or so metres away to me.
In the midday heat, I sat overlooking the stream for a while, then went back along the trail. I saw a Red-billed Scimitar Babbler and had two Orange-breasted Laughingthrushes come in to a tape at 2.30 pm. I saw one of these quite well through the vegetation as it foraged on the ground.
Rain at 4 pm forced a premature retreat to Bao Loc.
Tuesday April 10th
My original schedule was to go to Cat Tien directly from Bao Loc, but I had asked the driver if I could spend the early morning back at Deo Nui San as I wanted to bird the road again. He had phoned his company and there was no problem. So we left the hotel at 5 am and I was dropped off at the 80km marker at 5.45 am. I walked along the road almost to the tea stall and was picked up at 8.30am. The road was less birdy than yesterday and was very quiet after 7.30 am, but I still added five new species for the trip, including Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon and Radde’s Warbler.
The journey to Cat Tien was quicker than I had expected. We arrived at the river-crossing at 10.45 am. The driver went across the river with me and helped me carry my bags to my room. It was very hot, so I washed some clothes and birdwatched a little from my window, which overlooked forest, seeing Racket-tailed Treepies and a Great Iora amongst other birds. I had lunch in the HQ restaurant/canteen, which was very busy – one group, some of them officials in uniform, were having a heavy liquid lunch. Cans of Heineken were piled up on the table, and the merry throng were also downing glasses of rice wine like there was no tomorrow. My other abiding memory is that the tablecloths were covered in flies.
I had a brief siesta after lunch, and headed out birding at 2.45 pm, when it was still very hot. First I went to reception and booked a truck and guide to take me to Dac Lua on the following morning. The girl at reception was very helpful, and that proved to be the case throughout my stay. After that, I walked the Lagerstroemia trail, which was very quiet except for a male Siberian Blue Robin, which is always a pleasure to see. I got a little lost along the trail system and unwittingly ended up on the Uncle Dong trail and then the shortcut, which brought me out by the substation. It was now very humid, the sky had darkened and there was thunder and a few spots of rain. I walked west along the Dac Lua track then back along the Uncle Dong trail. I played a tape of Bar-bellied Pitta and eventually got a response and had good views of two birds together. Along the Lagerstroemia trail, just before it met the road again, I met Ian Mills who was looking for Blue-rumped Pitta. We both agreed that birding here was hard work. Once back on the road, I had excellent views of some Dusky Broadbills high in the trees.
Wednesday April 11th
At 5.30 am I was perched on the back of an open truck heading along the Dac Lua track with Duyen, my guide. The concrete track soon gave way to a rutted, bumpy surface where a high clearance was necessary. We saw two Sambar deer along the track and a few Red Junglefowl. Near Dac Lua, a Green Peafowl took off from the track in front of our vehicle. At Dac Lua we walked between the bamboo hills and across the surface of the dried-up lake. We heard Scaly-breasted Partridge, Germain’s Peacock Pheasant and Large-billed Scimitar Babbler in this area, but saw none of them. We also had no chance of Orange-necked Partridge as I didn’t have a tape. However, the area is pleasant enough and we did have 10 Silver-backed Needletails low over the hills, an Oriental Honey Buzzard, two unidentified accipiters (Shikras??), a Woolly-necked Stork and two Black-naped Monarchs on our walk. Also of interest were several Bright-headed Cisticolas singing and showing well in the grass fringing the lake and I also saw a Brown-streaked Flycatcher on the edge of one of the hills. An Asian Brown Flycatcher found by Duyen soon after allowed for useful comparison.
On the way back along the Dac Lua track, Duyen spotted a Green Peafowl slinking off into the forest at the side of the track. I saw nothing. We stopped at a small clearing, which contained several peacock tail-feathers that Duyen collected – presumably the clearing was a display ground. Just after we’d driven off from here, Duyen saw another Green Peafowl just inside the forest and this time I had excellent, close views as the bird moved away.
At 10.35 am I was dropped off at the Uncle Dong trail and walked along here and the Lagerstroemia trail back to HQ. On the way I taped for Blue-rumped Pitta and heard a slight movement just after I’d entered the Lagerstroemia trail. Through the vegetation, I had good prolonged views of a pair of Blue-rumped Pittas.
After a midday break, I took a vehicle from HQ to the grassland area to the south at 3 pm. I paid 175,000 dong and arranged to be picked up at 6 pm. I had requested to be taken to the ‘tower’ and was a little disconcerted when I saw a tower some way off to the right but we kept on going. After a few minutes, we came to a second tower and I was dropped off. I climbed this tower, which was in a rather limited area of grassland, and found that it did not give particularly better views than from the ground. It was pretty apparent that the first tower, and not this one, was the Green Peafowl site.
I explored this area a little and then began walking along the track back towards the first tower. I saw a few birds but at 4.30 pm there was a thunderstorm and it rained heavily, ending my birdwatching for the day. I sheltered as best I could under a tree, but got soaked nevertheless. From my inadequate shelter, I saw two Wild Pigs pass on the other side of the track.
Thursday April 12th
At 5.30 am I was driven with Duyen to the start of the Bau Sau trail. We saw a male Siamese Fireback along the Dac Lua track on the way. We began walking the trail at 5.50 am. The trail was fairly quiet. We heard a close Germain’s Peacock Pheasant but it didn’t show itself, and saw a female Siamese Fireback and two Bar-bellied Pittas. Two Great Hornbills were vocal in overhead trees, but we only had untickable glimpses of them as they flew.
We arrived at Crocodile Lake at 9 am. I counted waterbirds from the observation tower, and then Duyen and I walked amongst the lakeside scrub. We heard and saw a very vocal Blue-winged Pitta, a species which is mainly a summer visitor to the area. From 11 am to 1.30 pm it was extremely hot, so we lazed around on the substation verandah, observing a Stripe-throated Bulbul’s nest that contained two young. One of the adults fed a large black and white caterpillar to the nestlings, so that both ends of the caterpillar were in each of the nestlings’ mouths. A tug-of-war ensued until eventually one nestling succeeded in pulling the grub out of the other’s mouth and swallowed it.
On the walk back to the Dac Lua Track, we saw three Black and Red Broadbills, a Banded Broadbill, another (or the same?) Siamese Fireback and the same Bar-bellied Pittas.
At dusk, small parties of Oriental Pratincoles, totalling at least 82 in all, flew over HQ towards the river.
Friday April 13th
I had arranged on the previous day for a driver to take me to Heaven’s Rapids at 5.30 am. However, when I arrived at the reception building, there was no sign of the driver. I asked someone for assistance; the unapologetic driver was eventually roused and we finally left at 5.50 am, which was very annoying.
I was dropped off at an area of bamboo a kilometre or so after the Rapids and I walked back to HQ from there. The bamboo along the track is a potential site for Orange-necked Partridge and Pale-headed Woodpecker. However, the track was relatively quiet, the best birds I saw being an Asian barred Owlet, two male Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers and two Scaly-crowned Babblers.
Once back at the Dac Lua Track, I took the short cut to the Uncle Dong trail, then hooked up with the Lagerstroemia trail, where I heard a Bar-bellied Pitta. I then took the short cut back to the HQ (what I call the HQ trail). Duyen had told me that a Germain’s Peacock Pheasant had been heard and seen along here a couple of days previously and luckily at 10 am I heard the bird and taped it in, getting good views of it as it circled around me in a wide loop.
In the afternoon, at 3 pm, I walked along the track to the grassland pools area and the first tower. It took an hour to get to the tower. This area – a mix of pools, bunds, trees and meadows - is the kind of place that I like. There were a few waterbirds on the pools, including two Cinnamon Bitterns and a Marsh Sandpiper. Near the tower, I flushed a Green Peafowl which flew heavily into the air and disappeared over the trees in front of the tower. The meadows held Zitting Cisticola and Paddyfield Pipit, and along the bunds I had two Chestnut-capped Babblers and a couple of tantalising brown skulkers, one of which was probably a Lanceolated Warbler.
Saturday April 14th
I was out just after 5 am along the Dac Lua track, my main target being Grey-faced Tit Babbler. Just before the substation a trail led off to the right to the Ben Cu Rapids – a side-channel of the main river that was now mainly dry rocks with scattered pools of water. On the edge of the dried-up river was a fruiting tree. I sat down on a rock and observed the tree from 5.50 – 7.00 am. During that time, the tree was visited by four species of barbet, Golden-crested Mynah, Blue-winged and Golden-fronted Leafbirds, Pompadour Green and Thick-billed Pigeons, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, White-crested Laughingthrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Bay Woodpecker and Black-naped Oriole. I also saw Stork-billed and Black-capped Kingfisher in flight.
At 7.00 am I continued along Dac Lua track past the turn off for Heaven’s Rapids. Birds I saw included Ruby-throated Sunbird, Banded Kingfisher, 2 Grey-faced Tit Babblers, a Black and Red Broadbill, a Shikra and two Black Bazas.
I returned to HQ via the HQ trail but there was no sign today of Germain’s Peacock Pheasant. At 12 noon I checked out and was met by my driver. I arrived back in Ho Chi Minh City at 3.00 pm.
Sunday April 15th
I was picked up from the hotel at the ungodly hour of 4.00 am and taken to the airport for my 6.00 am flight back to Hong Kong.
SYSTEMATIC LIST :
The list below follows the order and nomenclature from A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson (2000).
Chinese Francolin – Francolinus
Two heard at Ho Tuyen Lam on 6th April, and singles heard at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April. One heard across the river from the southern grasslands (second tower), Cat Tien on 11th April.
Rufous-throated Partridge – Arborophila
Two birds observed near the small clearing close above the start of the summit trail at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. [Subspecies annamensis]
Scaly-breasted Partridge - Arborophila
Heard at Dac Lua, Cat Tien on 11th April.
Red Junglefowl - Gallus gallus
Commonly seen and heard at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April.
Silver Pheasant - Lophura
A female in the degraded forest patch at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. [Subspecies annamensis]
Siamese Fireback - Lophura
A male along the Dac Lua track on 12th April and two females along the Bau Sau trail the same day.
Germain's Peacock-Pheasant - Polyplectron
At Cat Tien, single birds were heard at Dac Lua on 11th April and along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April. Another seen and heard along the trail behind the headquarters at Cat Tien on 13th April.
Green Peafowl – Pavo
One seen along the Dac Lua track near Dac Lua on 11th April and another seen further back down the Dac Lua track towards the Bau Sau trail turn off on the return journey later on in the morning. One was also flushed in the grassland pools area close to the first tower on the afternoon of 13th April.
Lesser Whistling Duck - Dendrocygna
About 130 at Crocodile Lake, Cat Tien on 12th April.
Speckled Piculet – Picumnus
Three along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th April with one there on 10th April.
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker - Dendrocopos
Two at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
[Lesser Yellownape - Picus chlorolophus
A yellownape seen in the degraded forest at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April was probably this species.] Laced Woodpecker - Picus vittatus Singles at Dac Lua and the southern grasslands, Cat Tien on 11th April, with two at Heaven’s Rapids trail on 13th April.
Common Flameback - Dinopium javanense One at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Bay Woodpecker - Blythipicus pyrrhotis One along the stream at Deo Nui San on 8th & 9th April. One at Ben Cu Rapids, Cat Tien on 14th April.
Red-vented Barbet - Megalaima
One seen at Datanla Waterfall on 4th April, and one to two heard at Ta Nung on 5th April, Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April and at Dac Lua, Cat Tien on 11th April.
Lineated Barbet - Megalaima
Several different birds seen & heard at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April.
Green-eared Barbet - Megalaima
As with the previous species, several different birds seen & heard at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April.
Golden-throated Barbet - Megalaima franklinii Up to two birds heard at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April, with up to three birds seen/heard at Deo Nui San on 8th & 9th April.
Black-browed Barbet - Megalaima
Commonly recorded in the Da Lat area 4th – 7th April, and particularly common and visible in fruiting trees at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Blue-eared Barbet – Megalaima
Several different birds heard at Cat Tien 10th-14th April, with one or two seen in a fruiting tree at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Coppersmith Barbet – Megalaima
One heard along the track to the southern grasslands, Cat Tien on 13th April and up to three seen in a fruiting tree at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Oriental Pied Hornbill - Anthracocerus
Single birds noted at Cat Tien as follows: at Dac Lua on 11th April, Crocodile Lake on 12th April, Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April and Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Great Hornbill - Buceros bicornis
Two birds heard and poorly seen along the Bau Sau trail, Cat Tien on 12th April.
Indian Roller - Coracias benghalensis
Up to three noted at the southern grasslands, Crocodile Lake and the HQ at Cat Tien 11th - 14th April.
Dollarbird - Eurystomus orientalis Three at Heaven’s Rapids trail and one at HQ, Cat Tien on 13th April, with one at the grassland pools on the same day.
Common Kingfisher - Alcedo athis
One at the grassland pools, Cat Tien on 13th April and one at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Banded Kingfisher - Alcedo pulchella
A female seen in forest along the Dac Lua track after the Heaven’s Rapids turn off on 14th April.
Stork-billed Kingfisher - Halcyon
One at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
White-throated Kingfisher - Halcyon smyrnensis One near Di Linh on 9th April. At Cat Tien noted at Dac Lua, Crocodile Lake, the southern grasslands and the HQ area 11th – 14th April, with a high count of four at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Black-capped Kingfisher - Halcyon
One at Ben Cu Rapids, Cat Tien on 14th April.
Pied Kingfisher - Ceryle rudis
A pair on the river at Cat Tien HQ on 10th April and three at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Blue-bearded Bee-eater - Nyctyornis
One at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Green Bee-eater – Merops
Three at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater - Merops
Three at Dac Lua, two at the river at Cat Tien HQ and one over the river at the southern grassland area (2nd tower) on 10th April, and singles at HQ and grassland pools on 13th April.
Banded Bay Cuckoo - Cacomantis
One heard along the Bau Sau trail, Cat Tien on 12th April.
Indian Cuckoo – Cuculus
Single birds heard at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April.
Plaintive Cuckoo – Cacomantis
One heard at Ta Nung on 5th April. At Cat Tien, two were at Dac Lua, one was at the Uncle Dong trail and two were at the southern grasslands on 11th April.
Green-billed Malkoha - Phaenicophaeus
Two birds along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th April with one there on 10th April. Noted daily at various areas in Cat Tien, the most seen being three at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Greater Coucal - Centropus
At least one bird heard at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April. Up to three birds heard daily at various locations at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April.
Lesser Coucal - Centropus bengalensis
Single birds along the track to the grassland pools at Cat Tien and at the grasslands themselves on 13th April.
Vernal Hanging Parrot - Loriculus
One at Dac Lua on 11th April, five along Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April and six along Dac Lua track on 14th April.
Red-breasted Parakeet - Psittacula
Commonly noted in small parties at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April.
Silver-backed Needletail - Hirundapus
At least 10 over the hills at Dac Lua on 11th April, two at Crocodile Lake on 12th April and three along Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April.
Asian Palm Swift – Cypsiurus
One near Di Linh on 4th April. Noted daily at Cat Tien 10th – 13th April, with a maximum count of eight at Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April.
House Swift – Apus affinis
Common at Ho Chi Minh City with at least 150 over the centre of the city on 4th April. Also present at Da Lat city centre 5th – 8th April.
Asian Barred Owlet - Glaucidium
One seen along Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April.
Brown Hawk Owl – Ninox
One heard at Cat Tien HQ on 12th April.
Great Eared Nightjar - Eurostopodus
At least one heard at dawn and dusk at Cat Tien HQ 10th – 14th April, with one seen on 12th April.
Grey Nightjar – Caprimulgus
One flushed during the day at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Large-tailed Nightjar - Caprimulgus
One flushed along the Dac Lua track in the early morning of 11th April and one heard and seen at Cat Tien HQ in the evening on the same date.
Rock Pigeon - Columbia livia
Small numbers noted at Ho Chi Minh City and between Di Linh and Duc Trong on 4th April.
Spotted Dove - Streptopelia
Fairly common in the Da Lat area and at Cat Tien.
Red-collared Dove - Streptopelia
Four+ at Dac Lua and two at the southern grasslands on 11th April, with several in the grassland pools area on 13th April.
Barred Cuckoo Dove – Macropygia
Five in a fruiting tree at Datanla Waterfall on 4th April, and up to four at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Emerald Dove - Chalcophaps
Singles at Heaven’s Rapids track and along the track to the southern grasslands on 13th April, with two at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Pompadour Pigeon - Teron pompadora
Five at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Thick-billed Green Pigeon - Treron
Of 20+ green pigeons seen at the southern grasslands on 11th April, two were identified as this species. Three were at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon – Treron
One at Deo Nui San on 10th April. Three green pigeons seen in the same area on 9th April were also probably this species.
Green Imperial Pigeon - Ducula
Eight at Dac Lua on 11th April,with two at Heaven’s Rapids track and 13 at the southern grasslands on 13th April.
Mountain Imperial Pigeon - Ducula
Small numbers regularly noted in the Da Lat and Deo Nui San areas.
White-breasted Waterhen - Amaurornis
At Cat Tien, three at Crocodile Lake and one along the Dac Lua track on 12th April, and one at the grassland pools on 13th April.
Purple Swamphen - Porphyrio
Six+ at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Common Moorhen - Gallinula
Two at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Marsh Sandpiper – Tringa
One at the grassland pools, Cat Tien on 13th April.
Common Greenshank – Tringa
One at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Bronze-winged Jacana - Metopidius
At least 10 at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Red-wattled Lapwing - Vanellus
Two at Dac Lua and two at the southern grasslands (2nd tower) on 11th April, two at Crocodile Lake on 12th April and five at the grassland pools on 13th April.
Oriental Pratincole – Glareola
Eighty-two were noted flying over the HQ at Cat Tien at dusk on 12th April, six were seen over Heaven’s Rapids track and 70 were noted over forest near the grassland pools on 13th April, and 21 were seen over Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
One at the southern grasslands, Cat Tien on 11th April, two at Crocodile Lake on 12th April and one at Ben Cu Rapids on 13th April.
Black Baza - Aviceda leuphotes
Two along Dac Lua track on 14th April.
Oriental Honey-buzzard – Pernis
One at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Black-shouldered Kite - Elanus
One seen near Mount Lang Bian HQ on 6th April.
Crested Serpent-Eagle - Spilornis
An adult and a juvenile along the logging track at Deo Nui San on 8th April, witht an adult seen again on 9th April.
Crested Goshawk - Accipiter
One at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Shikra – Accipiter Badius
One along the Dac Lua track on 14th April.
Black Eagle - Ictinaetus malayensis
One along the road at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Several, including a pair with two juveniles, at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Darter – Anhinga melanogaster
One was seen near the HQ, Cat Tien on 10th April and there were 13 at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
One at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Singles at Cat Tien as follows: at Crocodile Lake on 12th April, grassland pools on 13th April, and Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
One along the river at the southern grasslands, Cat Tien on 11th April, and two at the grassland pools on 13th April.
Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
Four were at Crocodile Lake on 12th April and two were at the grassland pools on 13th April.
Great Egret - Casmerodius albus
Five were at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Cattle Egret – Bubulcus
Four were seen 16km south of Da Lat on 4th April. At Cat Tien, eight were at Dac Lua and seven in the southern grasslands on 11th April, and eight flew over the HQ at dusk on 12th April.
Chinese Pond Heron - Ardeola
Observed in small numbers at Da Lat, near Di Linh and at Cat Tien.
Cinnamon Bittern - Ixobrychus
Two at the grassland pools, Cat Tien on 13th April.
Woolly-necked Stork - Ciconia
One flew over Dac Lua on 11th April.
Blue-rumped Pitta - Pitta soror
A pair were observed on the Lagerstroemia trail, Cat Tien on 11th April.
Rusty-naped Pitta - Pitta oatesi
One seen in the degraded forest, Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Blue Pitta – Pitta cyanea
One heard and seen along the trail at Deo Nui San on 8th April, with one heard there again on 9th April. Two were heard along the road at Deo Nui San on 10th April.
Bar-bellied Pitta - Pitta elliotii Two seen along the Uncle Dong trail, Cat Tien on 10th April, one heard and two see along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April, and one heard on the Lagersroemia trail on 13th April. The least difficult of the pittas to come to grips with.
Blue-winged Pitta - Pitta moluccensis
One seen and heard calling repeatedly at Crocodile Lake on 12th April
Black and Red Broadbill - Cymbirhynchus
Three were seen along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April and one was seen along the Dac Lua track on 14th April.
Long-tailed Broadbill – Psarisomusdalhousiae
One was seen along the road and two along the trail at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
Banded Broadbill - Eurylaimus
One seen along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April.
Dusky Broadbill - Corydon sumatranus
Four together along the Dac Lua track near the Lagerstroemia trail on 10th April.
Asian Fairy Bluebird - Irena
One observed at Ta Nung on 5th April. Up to seven at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April. One at Ben Cu Rapids, Cat Tien on 14th April.
Blue-winged Leafbird - Chloropsis
Up to five along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April. Two at Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April and two at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Golden-fronted Leafbird – Chloropsis
One at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Orange-bellied Leafbird – Chloropsis
Two along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
Brown Shrike – Lanius
Singles at Dac Lua on 11th April and at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Burmese Shrike - Lanius collurioides
Six near Datanla Waterfall on 4th April with two there on 5th April, and two at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
At least two in pines near Datanla Waterfall pn 4th & 5th April, and three in pines at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. [Subspecies leucotis]
Racket-tailed Treepie - Crypsirina
Up to three birds seen daily in various areas at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April.
Ashy Wood Swallow - Artamus
One seen 20 km before Bao Loc on 4th April.
Black-naped Oriole - Oriolus
Noted at Cat Tien as follows: one at the southern grasslands on 11th April, two along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April, and one at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Slender-billed Oriole – Oriolus
Four near Datanla Waterfall on 4th April with two in the same area on 5th April, and one at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Black-hooded Oriole - Oriolus xanthornus Two at Crocodile Lake on 12th April and one at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Maroon Oriole - Oriolus traillii
Up to three at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Large Cuckooshrike - Coracina
Two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. One at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Indochinese Cuckooshrike –
One at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April, and up to two at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Grey-chinned Minivet – Pericrocotus
One at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Long-tailed Minivet - Pericrocotus
Two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April, with four at Deo Nui San on 9th April and one there on 10th April.
Scarlet Minivet - Pericrocotus
Up to seven noted at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April. At Cat Tien, singles were seen along the Dac Lua track on 12th April and along Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April.
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike - Hemipus
Up to three birds noted in the Da Lat area on 5th & 6th April, with up to five birds at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April. Only one at Cat Tien – along the Dac Lua track on 14th April.
White-throated Fantail - Rhipidura
Four at Ta Nung and one at Datanla Waterfall on 5th April, and two at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Singles at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April.
Ashy Drongo - Dicrurus leucophaeus
Small numbers regularly noted in the Da Lat area and at Deo Nui San. One at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Bronzed Drongo – Dicrurus
One at Deo Nui San on 9th April. Up to three at Cat Tien 10th – 13th April.
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo - Dicrurus
Four+ at Ta Nung on 5th April, five at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April and up to four at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo - Dicrurus
One at KM80, Deo Nui San on 10th April. Up to seven noted at Cat Tien 10th –14th April.
Black-naped Monarch - Hypothymis
Two at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Common Iora – Aegithina
One at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Three at Dac Lua on 11th April and three at Crocodile Lake on 12th April, with one along Dac Lua track on 14th April.
Great Iora - Aegithina lafresnayei
One at HQ, Cat Tien on 10th April, and one along the HQ trail on 13th April.
White-throated Rock Thrush - Monticola
A male at Datanla Waterfall on 4th April.
Blue Whistling Thrush - Myophonus
One in pines on the lower slopes of Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. One at Ben Cu Rapids, Cat Tien on 14th April.
Lesser Shortwing - Brachypteryx
Three at Ta Nung on 5th April (one seen well where the trail crosses the stream), and several heard at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April.
Asian Brown Flycatcher – Muscicapa
One at Deo Nui San on 10th April. Two at Dac Lua on 11th April and two along Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April.
Brown-streaked Flycatcher – Muscicapa
One at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Ferruginous Flycatcher – Muscicapa
One near the stream-crossing point at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Mugimaki Flycatcher - Ficedula mugimaki One at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April, and up to five different birds at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Red-throated Flycatcher – Ficedula
One at Ta Nung on 5th April. One at Dac Lua on 12th April.
Snowy-browed Flycatcher - Ficedula
One male singing near the gully along the contour trail at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April.
Little Pied Flycatcher - Ficedula
One along the logging track at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Verditer Flycatcher - Euymias
One at Ta Nung on 5th April. One at Deo Nui San on 8th April with four there on 9th April.
Large Niltava - Niltava grandis
Singles at Datanla Waterfall on 4th April, Ta Nung on 5th April and Mount Lang Bian on 6th April, with two at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. One at Deo Nui San on 8th April with two there on 9th April.
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher -Cyornis
Two males along Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April and one male along Dac Lua track on 14th April.
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
- Culicicapa ceylonensis
Commonly heard and seen in the Da Lat area, the most seen at one site being six at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Up to eight were noted at Deo Nui San, 8th – 10th April. Not recorded from Cat Tien.
Siberian Blue Robin - Luscinia
A male along the Uncle Dong trail, Cat Tien on 10th April, and a female along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April.
Oriental Magpie Robin - Copsychus
At Cat Tien, two were at Dac Lua on 11th April, at Crocodile Lake on 12th April and in the Botanical Gardens area on 13th April.
White-rumped Shama - Copsychus
Heard and seen daily at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April, with a high count of nine along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April.
White-tailed Robin - Myiomela
One or two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April, and one in the degraded forest at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Spotted Forktail – Enicurus
One bird heard and seen along the stream at Deo Nui San on 8th & 9th April.
Green Cochoa – Cochoa
One heard near the stream crossing-point at Deo Nui San on 8th April. One again heard there on 9th April, with a second bird heard a little way along the main logging track. A bird was seen in this area later on in the morning.
Siberian Stonechat – Saxicola
Two at Dac Lua on 11th April, one at Crocodile Lake on 12th April and one at the grassland pools on 13th April.
Pied Buschat – Saxicola
One at the southern grassland pools (2nd tower) on 11th April.
Grey Bushchat - Saxicola
One at Datanla Waterfall on 5th April, one at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and two at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Black-collared Starling - Sturnus
Three near Datanla Waterfall on 4th April, two near Mount Lang Bian HQ on 6th April and six at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Vinous-breasted Starling - Sturnus
At Cat Tien, one at Dac Lua and eight at the southern grasslands on 11th April, with three at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Golden-crested Mynah - Ampeliceps
Six at Ben Cu Rapids, Cat Tien on 14th April
Hill Mynah – Gracula religiosa
Single birds heard at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April and Deo Nui San on 9th April. Two seen at Dac Lua on 11th April and single birds heard elsewhere in the Cat Tien area 10th – 13th April.
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch - Sitta
Two near Datanla Waterfall on 4th April, and four in the same area plus two at the waterfall itself on 5th April. One at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April.
Yellow-billed Nuthatch – Sitta
One in the evergreen forest at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Green-backed Tit - Parus monticolus
Three at Mount Lang Biang on 6th April. One at Deo Nui San on 10th April.
Black-throated Tit - Aegithalos
Two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April, and one at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Up to three along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April. [Subspecies annamensis; considered by some to be a separate species Grey-crowned Tit]
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Five at Deo Nui San on 9th April. Noted daily at Cat Tien 10th-14th April, with 80+ regularly present over the river at HQ.
Red-rumped Swallow – Hirundo
Thirty + regular over the river at Cat Tien HQ 10th – 14th April.
Black-headed Bulbul – Pycnonotus
One at southern grasslands (2nd tower), Cat Tien on 11th April.
Black-crested Bulbul - Pycnonotus
Six at deo Nui San on 9th April, with four there on 10th April. Two at HQ, Cat Tien on 10th April with one there on 13th April, and one at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Red-whiskered Bulbul - Pycnonotus
Up to four in the Datanla Waterfall area on 4th & 5th April, with six + at Ta Nung on 5th April. Three at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Sooty-headed Bulbul – Pycnonotus
One seen near Datanla Waterfall on 5th April.
Stripe-throated Bulbul - Pycnonotus
Small numbers (up to three) noted at various places at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April. A pair had a nest containing two young at the Crocodile Lake ranger station on 12th April.
Flavescent Bulbul - Pycnonotus
Two at Ta Nung on 5th April and three at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Up to 10 at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Streak-eared Bulbul - Pycnonotus
Up to five noted at various sites at Cat Tien, 10th – 14th April.
Ochraceous Bulbul - Alophoixus
Up to four along the trail and road at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April. At Cat Tien, one along the Bau Sau trail on 12th April, four along Heaven’s Rapids track on 13th April and two along the Langerstroemia trail on 14th April.
Grey-eyed Bulbul – Iole
Two at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April. Four at Ben Cu Rapids, Cat Tien on 14th April.
Ashy Bulbul – Hemixos
One at Ta Nung on 5th April, and up to four along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th & 10th April.
Mountain Bulbul - Hypsipetes
Four + at Ta Nung on 5th April, two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and four at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Black Bulbul - Hypsipetes leucocephalus
Common in the Da Lat area and at Deo Nui San. There were 15+ near Datanla Waterfall on 4th April and 15+ at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Zitting Cisticola – Cisticola
Three at grassland pools, Cat Tien on 13th April.
Bright-headed Cisticola – Cisticola
Several in areas of thick grass at the dried-up lake at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Hill Prinia - Prinia atrogularis
A minimum of two at Ta Nung and one at Datanla Waterfall on 5th April, and two + at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Rufescent Prinia – Prinia
Two + at Dac Lua and one at southern grasslands on 11th April.
Yellow-bellied Prinia – Prinia
Two + at Dac Lua and one at southern grasslands on 11th April, and several at grassland pools on 13th April.
Oriental White-eye – Zosterops
Three at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
Grey-bellied Tesia - Tesia cyaniventer One seen and several heard at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April.
Mountain Tailorbird – Orthotomus
Two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and two at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Dark-necked Tailorbird - Orthotomus atrogularis Up to three at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April. Common at Cat Tien 10th – 14th April.
Radde’s Warbler – Phylloscopus
One along the road at Deo Nui San on 10th April.
Ashy-throated Warbler – Phylloscopus
One at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April.
Yellow-browed Warbler – Phylloscopus
At least two at Ta Nung and one at Datanla Waterfall on 5th April, six at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and six at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Up to four at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus
A minimum of one at Ta Nung on 5th April, and two at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Single birds at Deo Nui San on 8th & 9th April.
White-tailed Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus
A minimum of two at Datanla Waterfall on 4th April and two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. One at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
Grey-cheeked Warbler - Seicercus
One at Ta Nung on 5th April.
Chestnut-crowned Warbler – Seicercus
Two at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. One at Deo Nui San on 8th April.
White-crested Laughingthrush - Garrulax
Parties heard at several sites at Cat Tien 10th –14th April. Two birds finally seen in a fruiting tree at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Black-hooded Laughingthrush - Garrulax
Heard at Ta Nung on 5th April and at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Heard along the trail at Deo Nui San on 8th & 9th April. Three + birds finally seen along the road at Deo Nui San near the 78Km marker on the afternoon of 8th April, and a further eight + birds were seen between the 79Km and 78Km markers on the morning of 9th April. The road at Deo Nui San may well be the best site to see this near-endemic species (it also occurs in east S Laos) in Vietnam.
White-cheeked Laughingthrush - Garrulax
Thirteen + near Datanla Waterfall on 4th April with five there on 5th April, and eight at Ta Nung on 5th April. Up to eight noted at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April. The easiest by far of the near-endemic (east Cambodia, S Laos, C,S Annam) laughingthrushes to come to grips with.
- Garrulax annamensis
One heard at Ta Nung on 5th April, and two heard and seen briefly in the evergreen forest at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Four heard at Deo Nui San on 8th April, and two seen along the trail there on 9th April. This endemic appears to be very secretive and I found it very difficult to see well.
Collared Laughingthrush - Garrulax
Several heard and two birds eventually seen after much effort at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April.
Puff-throated Babbler - Pellorneum
Two near Cat Tien HQ on 10th April.
Scaly-crowned Babbler - Malacopteron
Two along Heaven’s Rapids track, Cat Tien on 13th April.
Large Scimitar-Babbler - Pomatorhinus
Three heard at Dac Lua on 11th April.
- Pomatorhinus shisticeps
Two in the evergreen forest at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Two seen along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
Red-billed Scimitar Babbler – Pomatorhinus
One at Ta Nung on 5th April. At Deo Nui San, there were two on 8th April and one on 9th April.
Streaked Wren-Babbler - Napothera
One seen near the crossing point along the stream at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
Eye-browed Wren-Babbler - Napothera
Two seen in the degraded forest at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April.
Rufous-capped Babbler - Stachyris
At least six at Ta Nung on 5th April, three + at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and seven at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Up to three noted at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Striped Tit-Babbler - Macronous
Four at Deo Nui San on 10th April. Common at Cat Tien 10th –14th April.
Grey-faced Tit-Babbler - Macronous
Two along Dac Lua track, Cat Tien on 14th April.
Chestnut-capped Babbler – Timalia
Two at grassland pools, Cat Tien on 13th April.
Silver-eared Mesia – Leiothrix
Three at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. One at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
Cutia – Cutia nepalensis
One seen at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and one in pines at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. [Subspecies legalleni; considered by some to be a separate species Vietnamese Cutia]
- Pteruthius flaviscapis
Two at Deo Nui San on 8th & 9th April on the logging track above the crossing point along the stream.
Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler -
One at Ta Nung on 5th April. One at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
White-hooded Babbler – Gampsorhynchus
Two along the road at Deo Nui San on 9th April with one there on 10th April.
Blue-winged Minla - Minla cyanouroptera
Three at Ta Nung on 5th April, one at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and nine at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. At Deo Nui San, seven were seen on 9th April and two on 10th April. [Subspecies orientalis]
Rufous-winged Fulvetta - Alcippe
Three together at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. [Subspecies klossi; considered by some to be a separate species Black-crowned Fulvetta]
Mountain Fulvetta - Alcippe
Commonly noted in the Da Lat area and in smaller numbers at Deo Nui San.
Grey-crowned Crocias - Crocias
Five seen at Ta Nung on 5th April.
Rufous-backed Sibia - Heterophasia
One near the crossing point along the stream at Deo Nui San on 8th April. [Subspecies eximia]
Black-headed Sibia - Heterophasia
Two at Ta Nung on 5th April and one at Datanla Waterfall on the same date. At Deo Nui San three were seen on 8th April and one on 9th April. [Subspecies robinsoni]
White-bellied Yuhina - Yuhina
Two at Ta Nung on 5th April. Up to five at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Grey-headed Parrotbill - Paradoxornis
One on the edge of the degraded forest at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. One along the road at Deo Nui San on 8th April. [Subspecies margaritae; considered by some to be a separate species Black-capped Parrotbill]
Thick-billed Flowerpecker – Dicaeum
One at Deo Nui San on 9th April.
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker – Dicaeum
One or two at Ben Cu Rapids on 14th April.
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker – Dicaeum
Singles at Dac Lua on 11th April and Crocodile lake on 12th April.
Brown-throated Sunbird – Anthreptes
Singles at Cat Tien HQ on 13th & 14th April, and one along track to grassland pools on 13th April.
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird - Anthreptes
One along Dac Lua track on 14th April.
Purple-naped Sunbird - Hypogramma
One along the Uncle Dong trail, Cat Tien on 11th April.
Mrs Gould's Sunbird - Aethopyga
Ten + at Ta Nung on April 5th and one at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April.
Black-throated Sunbird – Aethopyga
Five + at Ta Nung on 5th April and two at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. Up to two at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April. [Subspecies johnsi]
Crimson Sunbird – Aethopyga
One at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Streaked Spiderhunter - Arachnothera
One at Ta Nung on 5th April and at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Up to four noted at Deo Nui San 8th – 10th April.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer
Common in towns and villages, including Ho Chi Minh City and Mount Lang Bian HQ.
Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
One at Ta Nung on 5th April, and one at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Paddyfield Pipit – Anthus
Four at Dac Lua on 11th April and two at grassland pools on 13th April.
Olive-backed Pipit - Anthus
Ten at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April. One at Deo Nui San on 9th April. Two at Cat Tien HQ on 10th April and at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
Baya Weaver – Ploceus
Two at Dac Lua on 11th April and five at grassland pools on 13th April.
Asian Golden Weaver – Ploceus
Two to three at Crocodile Lake on 12th April.
White-rumped Munia - Lonchura
Several at Dac Lua on 11th April and two at grassland pools on 13th April.
Scaly-breasted Munia - Lonchura
One at Dac Lua on 11th April.
Vietnamese Greenfinch - Carduelis
Two at Ta Nung on 5th April, four at Mount Lang Bian on 6th April and one at Ho Tuyen Lam on 7th April. Along the road at Deo Nui San, six were seen on 8th April and 12 on 9th April.
David Diskin May 2007