“Just back from Da Lat in the South Vietnam highlands last week. Birding was unexpectedly hard-going, and we found out to our dismay that swathes of former birding hotspots have in recent years given way to rapid development and logging, in addition to the great numbers of birds lost to intense hunting.
“Birds were noticeably missing from the many padi-fields we passed, and we only saw a string of birds (Barn Swallows) sitting on a wire once during our week-long trip. The one morning we woke up after sunrise at our hotel in Da Lat, we experienced a ‘Silent Spring’ morning – outside our window, not a single bird was seen or heard in the hotel garden and grounds. We managed to hear a sunbird twitter on our way to the breakfast table, but on our way back to our rooms after breakfast, we were pleasantly surprised to see a pair of Burmese Shrikes on the tree outside our room!
“Still, for a few days of birding, we did manage to see a good number of endemic and near-endemic species, including the Vietnamese Cutia, Dalat Shrike-babblers, Black-hooded and White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Annam Barbet, Grey-crowned Crocias, Vietnamese Greenfinches (Chloris monguilloti) (top, endemic), Grey-crowned Tits (Aegithalos annamensis) (above, endemic), Black-headed Sibia, and Black-headed Parrotbill.
“There were also lots of interesting and friendly butterflies to keep the butterfly enthusiasts among us entertained throughout the trip.
“Most of the bird species we saw were skittish and difficult to photograph/video. Anyhow, I did manage this clip of a faraway Pintail Snipe (Gallinago stenura) foraging at dusk… I never knew snipes to run along so quickly!”
27th December 2012