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Vietnam birding diary
Bill & Doreen Stair, March 7 - 30, 2001
The continuing saga of our year-long, theoretically low budget, RTW birding trip... Since independent travel in Vietnam can, apparently, be somewhat problematic, we upped the budget and booked everything through Mr. Viet of Vietnam Trading & Travel (firstname.lastname@example.org). We got his name from Phil Benstead's trip report, and were very happy with his services - thank you, Phil. Our primary concern was to make sure we had drivers who knew where the parks actually were - many birders seem to have lost whole days trying to find Cat Tien. We ended up having Mr. Viet book all our accommodation, as well as the flight from Hanoi to Saigon, which he did in record time (we only e-mailed him five days before we arrived in Vietnam). It certainly made our trip relatively hassle-free. The only problems were the weather and our continuing inability to pin down the various Phylloscopus warblers flitting about.
An inauspicious start to our Vietnam trip. Torrential rain, cold winds, and fog so dense you could scoop it up with a spoon, all conspire to prevent us seeing any of the spectacular birds which reside around Tam Dao. We cut this one short and head to Cuc Phuong ahead of schedule. The rivers of mist waterfalling down the side of the mountain was quite spectacular, however.
3/10/01 - 3/16/01
Cuc Phuong NP
Quite a lot of rain here as well, but enough clear spots to get some good birding in. Even during the rain it was possible to bird from the shelter of the accommodation building, watching the Sultan Tits feeding close by, or the flocks of Brown Hornbills overhead when the rain cleared at dusk.
Birds seen at Cuc Phuong: Silver Pheasant, White-throated & Common Kingfishers, Greater Flameback, Lesser Yellownape, Rufous & Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, Brown Hornbill, Green-eared & Red-vented Barbets, Silver-backed Needletail, Lesser Coucal, Green-billed Malkoha, Hoopoe, Long-tailed & Silver-breasted Broadbills, Blue-winged Leafbird, White-bellied Pigeon, Black Eagle, Grey-backed Shrike, Green Magpie, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Great Iora, Large & Black-winged Cuckooshrikes, Long-tailed & Scarlet Minivets, Black & Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, Grey-backed & Japanese Thrushes, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, Orange-flanked Bush-Robin, Oriental Magpie Robin, Stonechat, Sultan Tit, Hill Myna, Black, Red-whiskered, Stripe-throated & Puff-throated Bulbuls, Rufescent Prinia, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Japanese White-eye, Striped Tit-Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Rufous-throated & Black-browed Fulvettas, Striated & White-bellied Yuhinas, Black-throated, Crimson & Fork-tailed Sunbirds, Streaked Spiderhunter, Olive-backed Pipit, White Wagtail
3/19/01 - 3/23/01
Cat Tien NP
Good birding on the roads and trails just around the accommodation, and also a jeep ride away at the higher altitudes where the endemics occur. We should have hired the jeep more than once, but did find a pair of very docile Blue-rumped Pittas in lieu of the Peacock-pheasant.
Birds seen at Cat Tien: Chinese Pond Heron, Little, Intermediate & Cattle Egrets, Little (Striated) Heron, Osprey, Black Baza, Red Junglefowl, White-breasted Waterhen, Thick-billed & Green Imperial Pigeons, Spotted & Emerald Doves, Red-breasted Parakeet, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Oriental Cuckoo, Asian Koel, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Pied, Common & White-throated Kingfishers, Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Indian Roller, Dollarbird, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Red-vented & Lineated Barbets, White-browed Piculet, Greater Yellownape, Black and Red-broadbill, Blue-rumped Pitta, Asian Palm Swift, Silver-backed Needletail, Barn, Red-rumped & Pacific Swallows, Grey Wagtail, White-rumped Munia, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Black-naped & Black-hooded Orioles, Racket-tailed Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Common & Great Ioras, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Black-crested, Stripe-throated, Streak-eared & Ochraceous Bulbuls, Scaly-crowned Babbler, Large Scimitar-Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, Chestnut-capped Babbler, White-crested Laughingthrush, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Rufescent Prinia, Oriental Magpie Robin, White-rumped Shama, Common Stonechat, Asian Brown & Red-throated Flycatchers, Brown Shrike, Vinous-breasted Starling, Golden-crested & Hill Myna, Ruby-cheeked, Olive-backed & Crimson Sunbirds, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker.
Ho Tuyen Lam, Da Lat
This is a very confusing site, not made any easier by the fact that we were both quite ill when in Da Lat. The trail that we thought was the good one turned out to be virtually impassable, whereas the trail we were convinced was the wrong one (near the elephant ride place) had some great birds, notably a flock of Cutias.
Birds seen at Ho Tuyen Lam: Little Grebe, Bay Woodpecker, Greater Flameback, Moustached Barbet, Indian Roller, Spotted Dove, Osprey, Black Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Common Moorhen, Chinese Pond Heron, Burmese Shrike, Ashy & Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, Eurasian Jay, Large Cuckooshrike, Black-naped Oriole, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Little Pied Flycatcher, White-throated Fantail, Grey Bushchat, Black-collared & Vinous-breasted Starling, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Green-backed & Black-throated Tits, Red-whiskered, Flavescent, Sooty-headed & Black Bulbuls, Plain Prinia, Cutia, Ashy Woodswallow, Little Spiderhunter.
Mount Lang Bian, Da Lat
Avoid the weekends when hordes of Vietnamese kids arrive, carrying guitars and boomboxes.
Birds seen at Mount Lang Bian: Grey-headed & Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Black Eagle, Chinese Pond Heron, Long-tailed Minivet, Verditer & Little Pied Flycatchers, Grey Bushchat, Red-whiskered & Black Bulbuls, Eurasian Jay, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Green-backed Tit, Ashy-throated & White-tailed Leaf Warblers, Rufous-capped Babbler, Gould's Sunbird.