It was great to finally get back to Vietnam after four years away from the country, and this year we embarked on one of our most comprehensive itineraries of the country, as we added a couple of new locations that we hadn’t previously visited on tour. We saw a good variety of birds throughout, and also found lots of fun and interesting insects throughout (especially the great variety of butterflies).
We started out in Hanoi, and explored the old city a bit on our first afternoon before dinner. After that, we headed south, stopping at Van Long for a lovely boat ride through the tranquil wetlands at the base of striking limestone cliffs. This tour’s dedicated birding started off with a good bunch of waterbirds including Great Bittern and Black Bittern, a large flock of ducks, plenty of Plain Prinias, a couple of Blue Rock-Thrushes perching on karst promontories, and a nice up-close-and-personal perched Crested Serpent-Eagle. We then continued south to Cuc Phuong National Park, the oldest designated national park in the country. We had to navigate the remnants of some monsoon activity over the South China Sea, and this put a damper (pun intended) on one of our days in the park, but despite that we saw some fun birds: Bar-bellied Pitta, Red-vented and Green-eared barbets, a close call with some very vocal Tonkin Partridges, Annam Limestone-Babbler, and Pied Falconet. We had thrushes in spades (Japanese, Black-breasted, Orange-headed, Gray-backed), and also some good success on a couple of owling excursions, with views of Mountain Scops-Owl, Collared Scops-Owl, and Brown Wood Owl.
From here, we flew south to Danang, and continued the rest of the tour through central Vietnam and into the south by bus. We got started birding the lush montane forests of the central highlands a couple of hours late due to a flat tire we sustained on the drive up, but once we got into birding mode we found a few real high elevation gems: Red-tailed Laughingthrush, the very range-restricted local subspecies of Golden-breasted Fulvetta, as well as Rusty-capped Fulvetta, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Green-tailed Sunbird, Ashy-throated Warbler, Gray-headed Parrotbill, Red-tailed Minla, and of course, the relatively newly described and hyper-localized Black-crowned Barwing. We then continued down to Mang Den for a couple of nights, and our full day of birding here among the mixed flocks (“bird waves”) netted us Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Golden Babbler, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, White-winged Magpie, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Black-throated Sunbird, Speckled Piculet, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, and Necklaced Barbet amidst the many Black-throated Tits and Mountain Fulvettas. A Vogel’s Pit Viper was a great surprise during the afternoon, its emerald color blending right into the vegetation alongside the path as we admired a cool-looking stick insect nearby.
We continued south with two long travel days, breaking up the southbound drive with an overnight stop and some productive birding in the drier dipterocarp forest of Yok Don. In addition to the memorable Green Cat Snake here, we also ran into a few species which are more common in the dry forests of Cambodia to the west, but just barely sneak across the border to Vietnam here, such as Black-headed Woodpecker, Burmese Nuthatch, Cinereous Tit, Rufous Treepie, and White-rumped Falcon.
We rolled into Dalat, which used to be an old French hill station and resort town, amidst the rolling hills of the Langbian Plateau, in good spirits. This is one of the main seats of endemism within Vietnam, and we had a great couple of days birding around Tuyen Lam Lake, and on Mount Langbian and Mount Bidoup. Gray-crowned Crocias, which had been lost to science for decades before its re-discovery in the 1990s, showed very well several times during our first morning, with a supporting cast of White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Black-headed Sibia, Hill Prinia, Asian Fairy-bluebird, and Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird. That afternoon, we encountered more of some of the above specialties, and also had a surprise local rarity in Black Kite, and a near-dusk male White-throated Rock-Thrush. Our hike on Mt. Langbian involved a bit of a slick trail, but luckily for us it wasn’t actively raining. This beautiful forest provided a bounty of birds most excellent: Vietnamese Cutia, Collared Laughingthrush, Hume’s Treecreeper, “White-faced” Eurasian Jay, and the Dalat subspecies of White-browed Shrike-Babbler. Mt. Bidoup had a couple more of the range-restricted specialties we hunt for, most notably Short-tailed Scimitar-Babbler and Black-crowned Fulvetta.
It was then time to head south towards Cat Tien, with a birding stop at Deo Nui San (sometimes abbreviated below as "DNS") a coastal mountain pass on the way. Black-headed Parrotbill, Annam Prinia, Asian Emerald Dove, Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler, and Vietnamese Cutia were highlights of this interstitial stop, along with a lovely dinner at our lodging overlooking the a coffee tree-filled valley.
Cat Tien was the final birding stop on our trip, and the lowland tropical forest here is always chock full of animals, from birds to mammals to insects. We birded the open field habitats one evening, seeing Green Peafowl strutting and Chinese Francolin scampering through grasses in between our sightings of Red Muntjac, Sambar Deer, and the difficult-to-see Gaur. Great Eared-Nightjars flew down the Dong Nai river in the evenings by the dozens, Black-and-Red and Banded broadbills were cooperative, and we had multiple sightings of the range restricted bamboo specialist Pale-headed Woodpecker. Our hike to Crocodile Lake produced Bronze-winged Jacana, Yellow Bittern, Collared Falconet, Indochinese Blue Flycatcher, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Siamese Fireback, and several of the endangered Siamese Crocodile. From our lodging we spied Lesser Fish-Eagle, Oriental Pied-Hornbill, and Stork-billed and Black-capped Kingfishers, and as the clock on our time in this rich national park ticked down we jammed in yet more great species, with Green-legged Partridge, Forest Wagtail, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Orange-bellied Trogon, and Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant. Add to this haul the four species of primates (including a fantastic experience with Yellow-cheeked Gibbon), Yellow-throated Martens, Lesser Mouse Deer, and a fleeting view of Wild Boar, and you can argue that we saved the best for last!
It was great to travel with y’all, and here’s hoping I see you again somewhere on this bird-filled planet of ours.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus coromandelianus)
Quite a few at Crocodile Lake.
GARGANEY (Spatula querquedula)
A good number mixed into the huge Green-winged Teal flock at Van Long.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (EURASIAN) (Anas crecca crecca)
Big flock at Van Long.
ORANGE-NECKED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila davidi) [*]
We only heard this one, but even that is a victory these days, as this species has become quite hard to find at Cat Tien.
SIAMESE FIREBACK (Lophura diardi)
A couple of good encounters with these striking pheasants along the roads and trails of Cat Tien.
GREEN PEAFOWL (Pavo muticus)
Talk about a striking pheasant! We saw a dozen of these at Cat Tien, where their road-adjacent population seems to be booming after the lack of visitors for two pandemic years.
SCALY-BREASTED PARTRIDGE (TONKIN) (Tropicoperdix chloropus tonkinensis) [*]
We very nearly saw these at Cuc Phuong. We sure did hear them.
SCALY-BREASTED PARTRIDGE (GREEN-LEGGED) (Tropicoperdix chloropus cognacqi)
Finally, we got eyes on a couple of these at Cat Tien, after frequently hearing them for our prior three days in the park.
GERMAIN'S PEACOCK-PHEASANT (Polyplectron germaini)
A real good one. Very nice views of a male at Cat Tien, and we also heard them giving their rolling clucking vocalizations from their dense forest abodes.
RED JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus gallus)
We did indeed see some wild chickens (in addition to some clearly not-so-wild ones). The males are quite snazzy!
CHINESE FRANCOLIN (Francolinus pintadeanus)
We heard a few giving their dusk calls at Yok Don, and nearly saw one before it got too dark for us. But then, after we had written it off, we lucked into a couple one evening at Cat Tien, one of which hung out for very good looks.
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Van Long and Ho Tuyen Lam.
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
ASHY WOOD-PIGEON (Columba pulchricollis)
A brief flyover of this shy high elevation columbid was nevertheless gratifying up at Ngoc Lay.
RED COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia tranquebarica)
Abundant at Cat Tien.
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis)
Seen in the wild on about a half a dozen days, and heard only on another couple. Also a few in cages here and there.
ASIAN EMERALD DOVE (Chalcophaps indica)
One jumped off the road at Cuc Phuong as we were driving. Luckily, ten days later we watched as one fed on the road shoulder at Deo Nui San Pass, for a time heedless of passing traffic. When seen well you realize just how great of a bird they are!
ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) [I]
THICK-BILLED GREEN-PIGEON (Treron curvirostra)
The abundant Treron at Cat Tien, and actually the only one we saw there this year.
GREEN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula aenea)
A couple of these flying over the dry forest at Yok Don.
MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula badia)
A few around the Central Highlands, both flying over and perched.
GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis)
Common, and both heard and seen regularly.
LESSER COUCAL (Centropus bengalensis)
Nice views at Cat Tien.
GREEN-BILLED MALKOHA (Phaenicophaeus tristis)
A couple scattered through lowland and foothill sites.
BANDED BAY CUCKOO (Cacomantis sonneratii)
Good views at Dalat and Cat Tien.
SQUARE-TAILED DRONGO-CUCKOO (Surniculus lugubris)
On a wire at Deo Nui San Pass
LARGE HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx sparverioides) [*]
Heard at Cuc Phuong
INDIAN CUCKOO (Cuculus micropterus concretus)
Hawking insects as part of the dusk feeding frenzy ay Cat Tien
HODGSON'S FROGMOUTH (Batrachostomus hodgsoni) [*]
We played cat and mouse with this one near Tuyen Lam Lake, but unfortunately we were the mouse. The bright nearly full moon surely didn't help our cause of hoping it would come out of its dense tangly home.
GREAT EARED-NIGHTJAR (Lyncornis macrotis)
Woo, what a spectacle these huge nightjars were on our first evening at Cat Tien, flying over the forest with their harrier-like flight, terrorizing the crepuscular winged insect population of the Dong Nai. We also got to see one perched over us the next evening, seeing its distinctive "ears."
GRAY NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus jotaka jotaka)
One greeted us upon arrival at the frogmouth site, though it disappeared after a couple of passes and a brief perching episode.
LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus macrurus)
Phenomenal show put on by one of these during our dusk owling expedition at Cat Tien.
BROWN-BACKED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus giganteus indicus)
A handful of these flew over us as we birded a road in Mang Den one morning.
HIMALAYAN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus brevirostris)
This darker-rumped Aerodramus was at Dalat and Deo Nui San Pass, and even a few of these on one overcast, drizzly morning at Cat Tien.
GERMAIN'S SWIFTLET (Aerodramus germani)
Very difficult to tell apart from the above species (75% of our Aerodramus were identified only to genus), but this was the widespread and abundant species in the lowlands.
PACIFIC SWIFT (Apus pacificus)
One flyover at Mang Den.
COOK'S SWIFT (Apus cooki)
Van Long and Cuc Phuong, where they breed in and around limestone karst features.
HOUSE SWIFT (Apus nipalensis)
Mostly around Dalat, including one very large evening aggregation.
ASIAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus balasiensis)
Yok Don, Dalat, Cat Tien.
CRESTED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne coronata)
A nice flock of more than 25 of these was hawking insects over the forest at Yok Don.
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)
GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio poliocephalus)
WHITE-BROWED CRAKE (Poliolimnas cinereus)
Heard at Van Long, seen at Croc Lake
RUDDY-BREASTED CRAKE (Zapornia fusca) [*]
Heard at Van Long
RED-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus indicus atronuchalis)
Cat Tien NP
BRONZE-WINGED JACANA (Metopidius indicus)
Excellent views at Crocodile Lake!
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)
Dong Nai River
WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (Ciconia episcopus)
One circling around overhead towards the end of morning walk at Yok Don
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster)
GREAT BITTERN (Botaurus stellaris stellaris)
A big surprise was one of these northern migrants flying across the marsh at Van Long. We got reasonable looks at this large wader before it landed and melted right back into the marsh vegetation.
YELLOW BITTERN (Ixobrychus sinensis)
Quick views of a couple of these at Van Long, and then Bill spotted a young one hanging out in a sparse bit of reeds right in front of our viewing platform at Croc Lake, allowing for excellent and prolonged views!
BLACK BITTERN (Ixobrychus flavicollis flavicollis)
One flew across the channel as we boated through Van Long.
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)
Van Long, Cat Tien
GREAT EGRET (AUSTRALASIAN) (Ardea alba modesta)
Including a group of 30 or more at Van Long.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia)
Van Long and Cat Tien
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)
Relatively widespread, even in a few rice paddies seen as we were driving
CATTLE EGRET (EASTERN) (Bubulcus ibis coromandus)
Yok Don, Cat Tien
CHINESE POND-HERON (Ardeola bacchus)
STRIATED HERON (OLD WORLD) (Butorides striata javanica)
One distantly perched along the Dong Nai River
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
A couple over Tuyen Lam Lake, and then also singles in different watery spots around Cat Tien
CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela)
A nice perched one right off the bat at Van Long, and a couple of others later on at Cat Tien
CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (CHANGEABLE) (Nisaetus cirrhatus limnaeetus)
A couple perched at Lo Xo Pass, and perched at Yok Don
MOUNTAIN HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus nipalensis)
One circling over Crocodile Lake briefly, before it got too high in the bright sky to see and drifted away
BLACK EAGLE (Ictinaetus malaiensis)
Da Lat, Langbian, Deo Nui San, including a pair in apparent courtship at the latter spot!
CRESTED GOSHAWK (Accipiter trivirgatus)
Ngoc Lay and Deo Nui San
SHIKRA (Accipiter badius)
Yok Don, Cat Tien
BLACK KITE (BLACK-EARED) (Milvus migrans lineatus)
This is a rare species on the tour, but we ran into one flying all around Tuyen Lam lake after some gusty northeasterlies. We encountered what was presumably the same individual three different times at various points over the large lake during our afternoon birding the area.
LESSER FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus humilis plumbeus)
Another sparsely distributed species, this bird was initially perched way down the Dong Nai, but then it flew across and up the river. Smaller and more extensively dark than the next species.
GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus)
A couple at Crocodile Lake.
MOUNTAIN SCOPS-OWL (Otus spilocephalus)
One at Cuc Phuong during our first night of owling
COLLARED SCOPS-OWL (Otus lettia)
A couple of spots in Cuc Phuong, and then one calling from a dense dark tangle during an overcast drizzly mid-afternoon in Cat Tien.
ORIENTAL SCOPS-OWL (Otus sunia)
A couple at Yok Don
ASIAN BARRED OWLET (Glaucidium cuculoides)
We heard a heckuva lot of these, but it took until one of our final days at Cat Tien to see one, but that close-up dusk view was worth the wait!
COLLARED OWLET (Taenioptynx brodiei) [*]
We also heard these quite a bit (on five days), but we never found one in the right spot to view.
BROWN WOOD-OWL (BROWN) (Strix leptogrammica ticehursti)
Played hide (mostly) and seek with us at Cuc Phuong one evening, though we had a couple of views both perched and in flight.
BROWN BOOBOOK (Ninox scutulata burmanica) [*]
Heard only at Cat Tien.
RED-HEADED TROGON (Harpactes erythrocephalus) [*]
Heard in the evening at Mang Den, but we couldn't ogle it in the gloaming
ORANGE-BREASTED TROGON (Harpactes oreskios)
We finally ran into a couple of these on our final morning at Cat Tien
ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros albirostris)
Every day in Cat Tien, including from the lodge, and a few particularly nice views.
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis)
Van Long, Cat Tien
BANDED KINGFISHER (Lacedo pulchella) [*]
Heard on a couple of days at Cat Tien, but we didn't see it way up in the forest canopy.
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis)
We found one of these perched up river from the lodge, and were able to put a scope on it for all. We don't always connect with this impressive kingfisher on this tour.
WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Widespread throughout the old world, and also throughout Vietnam. We saw them on six days and in four locations.
BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon pileata)
Very nice views of this big contrasty kingfisher along the Dog Nai on a couple of days.
BLUE-BEARDED BEE-EATER (Nyctyornis athertoni)
One perched up high at the Ta Nung Valley.
CHESTNUT-HEADED BEE-EATER (Merops leschenaulti)
Three of these roadside as we made our way to Kham Duc
INDOCHINESE ROLLER (Coracias affinis)
Yok Don, Cat Tien
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis)
Deo Nui San, Cat Tien
COPPERSMITH BARBET (Psilopogon haemacephalus)
Excellent views at Yok Don, then its monotonous calls heard several times at Cat Tien.
BLUE-EARED BARBET (Psilopogon duvaucelii)
RED-VENTED BARBET (Psilopogon lagrandieri)
GREEN-EARED BARBET (Psilopogon faiostrictus)
LINEATED BARBET (Psilopogon lineatus)
Yok Don, Cat Tien
NECKLACED BARBET (Psilopogon auricularis)
A split off what was formerly Golden-throated Barbet, we got a couple of stellar views of this gaudy bird.
INDOCHINESE BARBET (Psilopogon annamensis)
Very nice views at Dalat and DNS
SPECKLED PICULET (Picumnus innominatus)
One of these in a mixed feeding flock at Mang Den
WHITE-BROWED PICULET (Sasia ochracea) [*]
Heard only at Cat Tien
HEART-SPOTTED WOODPECKER (Hemicircus canente)
A great experience watching a pair of these wonderful little odd-shaped, tiny-tailed woodpeckers defend a nest/roost cavity from some encroaching flamebacks at Cat Tien
GRAY-CAPPED PYGMY WOODPECKER (Yungipicus canicapillus)
Kind of fills the Downy Woodpecker niche in much of Southeast Asia, we had this species in a couple of places
STRIPE-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos atratus)
Heard at Ngoc Linh, but then seen well at Mang Den
BAY WOODPECKER (Blythipicus pyrrhotis)
Heard in several places, seen by Fran at Cuc Phuong, and by Mike and others at DNS
GREATER FLAMEBACK (Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus)
Good views at Yok Don and Cat Tien
PALE-HEADED WOODPECKER (Gecinulus grantia)
An often difficult-to-see bamboo obligate, but we encountered them in at least three different places in Cat Tien, and even had some chances at good looks at this usually shy species.
COMMON FLAMEBACK (Dinopium javanense)
Yok Don and Cat Tien
LACED WOODPECKER (Picus vittatus)
Best views at Yok Don, also seen at Cat Tien
BLACK-HEADED WOODPECKER (Picus erythropygius erythropygius)
A dry forest specialty, we only were able to see this spectacular woodpecker because of the itinerary change to go to Yok Don this year
GREATER YELLOWNAPE (Chrysophlegma flavinucha)
We scoped this at both Yok Don and Cuc Phuong
GREAT SLATY WOODPECKER (Mulleripicus pulverulentus) [*]
Heard only in the distance at Cat Tien, but it didn't seem to show any interest in re-locating closer to us
WHITE-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus javensis)
One flyover of this big, bold woodpecker at Yok Don.
WHITE-RUMPED FALCON (Polihierax insignis)
A pair of these (formerly known as White-rumped Pygmy-Falcon) were very cooperative at Yok Don.
COLLARED FALCONET (Microhierax caerulescens)
PIED FALCONET (Microhierax melanoleucos)
Nhan picked out a pair of these perched up on a bare snag during a midday stroll near Bong Substation
GRAY-HEADED PARAKEET (Psittacula finschii)
A surprise appearance by one of these at Di Linh, though it was quickly escorted away by some local breeding songbirds
RED-BREASTED PARAKEET (Psittacula alexandri)
The common parakeets that flew over us in flocks at Cat Tien
VERNAL HANGING-PARROT (Loriculus vernalis)
Encountered several times at Cat Tien, but mostly just flybys
SILVER-BREASTED BROADBILL (Serilophus lunatus) [*]
Heard only at Mang Den
BLACK-AND-RED BROADBILL (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos)
Seen nicely at Cat Tien
BANDED BROADBILL (Eurylaimus javanicus)
Good scope views of one vocal individual at Cat Tien
BLUE-RUMPED PITTA (Hydrornis soror) [*]
Heard only at Cat Tien
BLUE PITTA (Hydrornis cyaneus) [*]
Heard only at DNS
BAR-BELLIED PITTA (Hydrornis elliotii)
Seen on a couple of occasions, though first views at Cuc Phuong were probably our best.
SMALL MINIVET (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus)
GRAY-CHINNED MINIVET (Pericrocotus solaris)
SHORT-BILLED MINIVET (Pericrocotus brevirostris)
One at Mang Den
LONG-TAILED MINIVET (Pericrocotus ethologus annamensis)
Cuc Phuong, and a couple of DNS
SCARLET MINIVET (Pericrocotus speciosus)
The most widespread minivet in our travels: Cuc Phuong, Mang Den, DNS, Cat Tien
ASHY MINIVET (Pericrocotus divaricatus)
DNS and Cat Tien, but only a few here and there
BROWN-RUMPED MINIVET (Pericrocotus cantonensis)
Excellent views at DNS, where we had a flock of some 30+ on one of our visits
LARGE CUCKOOSHRIKE (Coracina macei)
Nice views overhead at Mt. Langbian, and then again at Cat Tien
BLACK-WINGED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Lalage melaschistos)
Cuc Phuong, Dalat, DNS
INDOCHINESE CUCKOOSHRIKE (Lalage polioptera)
Good views of singles at Dalat (Ta Nung Valley) and Cat Tien
DALAT SHRIKE-BABBLER (Pteruthius annamensis) [E]
Now re-lumped into White-browed Shrike-Babbler (Pteruthius aeralatus), we had a couple of these on Mt. Langbian.
CLICKING SHRIKE-BABBLER (Pteruthius intermedius)
Nhan and Bill saw one at Mang Den, and we also had brief views in the treetops at DNS.
WHITE-BELLIED ERPORNIS (Erpornis zantholeuca)
Common and widespread in all broadleaf or deciduous forests we encountered.
BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE (Oriolus chinensis)
Yok Don, Cat Tien
BLACK-HOODED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthornus)
Some nice views of this stunner, at Yok Don and Cat Tien
MAROON ORIOLE (Oriolus traillii)
Mang Den and DNS
ASHY WOODSWALLOW (Artamus fuscus)
Quite a few around Cat Tien, including a bunch roosting on a large snag during our evening safari drive
LARGE WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis virgatus)
A bunch of these over the road adjacent to Forest Floor at Cat Tien
COMMON WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis pondicerianus)
Common at Yok Don
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus)
A common and widespread forest denizen. Seen at Ngoc Lay, Mang Den, DNS, Cat Tien
COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia)
Just at Yok Don
GREAT IORA (Aegithina lafresnayei)
WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis)
Everywhere except the real lowlands: Cuc Phuong, Mang Den, Dalat, Langbian, DNS
BLACK DRONGO (Dicrurus macrocercus)
Just a couple of times, and surprisingly mostly absent along the road in the countryside
ASHY DRONGO (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
By far the most common and widespread drongo on this tour
ASHY DRONGO (CHINESE WHITE-FACED) (Dicrurus leucophaeus leucogenis)
Seen briefly at DNS
BRONZED DRONGO (Dicrurus aeneus)
Yok Don, DNS, Cat Tien
LESSER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus remifer)
A pair at Cat Tien were the only ones of the trip
HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (Dicrurus hottentottus)
Good views in several locations, including in the scope at Yok Don and DNS
GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus)
These are one of the great mimics of the forests of Southeast Asia, and we heard them trying to fool us into thinking they were other birds multiple times. It's hard to hide your true identity with a tail like that though!
BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea)
Several in Cat Tien
BLYTH'S PARADISE-FLYCATCHER (Terpsiphone affinis) [*]
We heard one scolding on our final morning at Cat Tien, but that was our only sniff of this bird
BROWN SHRIKE (Lanius cristatus)
Several spots, including it being one of the only birds while we waited for our flat to get fixed.
BURMESE SHRIKE (Lanius collurioides)
A few places along the road as we drove, then Di Linh and Cat Tien
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach)
Van Long and then the Central Highlands
GRAY-BACKED SHRIKE (Lanius tephronotus)
One perched cooperatively out in the open at the saddle of DNS on our first arrival there
EURASIAN JAY (WHITE-FACED) (Garrulus glandarius leucotis)
This distinctive white-faced form of the well known Eurasian Jay was at Mt. Langbian and Di Linh
WHITE-WINGED MAGPIE (Urocissa whiteheadi)
One troop was making a ruckus all around us at Mang Den, but it wasn't easy to get very good looks at them. Experts at staying hidden, even when moving around, despite their size.
COMMON GREEN-MAGPIE (Cissa chinensis) [*]
Heard only at Cuc Phuong
INDOCHINESE GREEN-MAGPIE (Cissa hypoleuca) [*]
Heard only at Mang Den
RUFOUS TREEPIE (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
Very good views at Yok Don
RACKET-TAILED TREEPIE (Crypsirina temia)
We saw this cobalt blue eyed treepie three days in a row in Cat Tien
RATCHET-TAILED TREEPIE (Temnurus temnurus)
We actually got to see well the bizarrely shaped tail on this often shy treepie
LARGE-BILLED CROW (LARGE-BILLED) (Corvus macrorhynchos macrorhynchos)
The only crow we encountered in our travels
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis)
Common, widespread, and conspicuous
SULTAN TIT (YELLOW-CRESTED) (Melanochlora sultanea sultanea)
Cuc Phuong. The yellow-crested versions of these big 'uns are the expected versions up-country
SULTAN TIT (BLACK-CRESTED) (Melanochlora sultanea gayeti)
The fully dark-headed versions of these monster tits were at Mang Den
GREEN-BACKED TIT (Parus monticolus legendrei)
Including twenty or more during our Langbian hike
CINEREOUS TIT (Parus cinereus)
Only in the dry forest of Yok Don
JAPANESE TIT (JAPANESE) (Parus minor nubicolus)
In Hanoi, at Ho Hoan Kiem
YELLOW-CHEEKED TIT (Machlolophus spilonotus)
These boldly-patterned tits were at Ngoc Lay and Mang Den
COMMON TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sutorius)
Widespread, and common in disturbed habitats
DARK-NECKED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus atrogularis)
The common (lowercase "c") tailorbird in any forested habitat
ANNAM PRINIA (Prinia rocki)
A great and difficult-to-track-down near endemic with a small range. It was recently (2021) split from the more widespread Brown Prinia, but has a disjunct range, different vocalizations, and looks different. It was great to finally connect with one of these on tour!
HILL PRINIA (Prinia superciliaris klossi)
A couple of spots around Dalat. Quite striking as prinias go
RUFESCENT PRINIA (Prinia rufescens)
With the Annam Prinias, and again at Cat Tien
PLAIN PRINIA (Prinia inornata)
The common prinia around wet rank vegetation, so well represented at Van Long and Crocodile Lake.
LANCEOLATED WARBLER (Locustella lanceolata) [*]
Heard only in the Annam Prinia area.
DALAT BUSH WARBLER (Locustella idonea)
Another relatively recent split, we found a pair of relatively vocal, but skulky (as usual) birds in Dalat, and eventually got a look at one of them.
PYGMY CUPWING (Pnoepyga pusilla annamensis) [*]
This tiny forest dumpling has quite a loud voice, but we never were in position to get views of them when we heard their distinctive calls at high elevation.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (Cecropis daurica)
STRIATED SWALLOW (Cecropis striolata)
COMMON HOUSE-MARTIN (EASTERN) (Delichon urbicum lagopodum)
A flock of house-martins flying over Mang Den was apparently the long distance migrant "Siberian House-Martin," currently considered the eastern subspecies of Common House-Martin. They can be difficult to distinguish from Asian House-Martins, but the face pattern, pale chin, apparent extent of the rump patch, and underpart patterning (or lack thereof) point towards this species.
ASIAN HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon dasypus)
BLACK-CRESTED BULBUL (Rubigula flaviventris)
This snazzy bulbul was widespread, with small numbers at most locations, from the lowlands to the mountains.
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL (Pycnonotus jocosus)
Van Long for a couple folks.
SOOTY-HEADED BULBUL (Pycnonotus aurigaster)
We had both the yellow-vented and red-vented versions of this common species.
STRIPE-THROATED BULBUL (Pycnonotus finlaysoni)
Di Linh and Cat Tien.
FLAVESCENT BULBUL (Pycnonotus flavescens)
Most days from Lo Xo Pass to Deo Nui San Pass.
STREAK-EARED BULBUL (Pycnonotus conradi)
This understated species was at Cat Tien.
OCHRACEOUS BULBUL (Alophoixus ochraceus)
DNS and Cat Tien
PUFF-THROATED BULBUL (Alophoixus pallidus)
Cuc Phuong and Mang Den
GRAY-EYED BULBUL (Iole propinqua)
Cuc Phuong, DNS
GRAY-EYED BULBUL (INNECTENS) (Iole propinqua innectens) [*]
This subspecies was encountered most days at Cat Tien, though we didn't get any looks at it
BLACK BULBUL (Hypsipetes leucocephalus)
The all black versions of this subspecies were likely H.l.sinensis.
BLACK BULBUL (LEUCOCEPHALUS GROUP) (Hypsipetes leucocephalus leucothorax)
The white headed versions that flew by at Ngoc Linh were wintering migrants which had likely bred in China.
ASHY BULBUL (BROWN-BACKED) (Hemixos flavala remotus)
Very nice views at Mt. Langbian and also some at DNS
MOUNTAIN BULBUL (Ixos mcclellandii)
Mang Den and Langbian
ASHY-THROATED WARBLER (Phylloscopus maculipennis)
One at Ngoc Linh, and nice views up high on Mt. Langbian
YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Perhaps on the highest number of eBird checklists (23) of any bird of the tour. It's calls are a near-constant in the Southeast Asian wintertime
DUSKY WARBLER (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
GRAY-CHEEKED WARBLER (Phylloscopus poliogenys)
Ngoc Lay and then Ngoc Linh
TWO-BARRED WARBLER (Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus)
At lower elevations: Yok Don, DNS, and Cat Tien
PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus tenellipes)
Particularly good looks over the main road at Cat Tien
KLOSS'S LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus ogilviegranti klossi)
Ngoc Linh, Dalat, DNS
GRAY-BELLIED TESIA (Tesia cyaniventer)
This skulker was seen on three instances: up high at Ngoc Linh, hopping around and foraging in the dark forest up at Langbian (very satisfying views watching a small troop go about its business in the woods), and then again at Bidoup.
RUFOUS-FACED WARBLER (Abroscopus albogularis)
Wow! This bird is a real stunner, and we had standout looks at Mang Den this year.
MOUNTAIN TAILORBIRD (Phyllergates cucullatus)
We heard its distinctive song on a couple of occasions at higher elevations, and we got to see it well at Bidoup and Dalat.
BLACK-THROATED TIT (GRAY-CROWNED) (Aegithalos concinnus annamensis)
This is another one that may yet be split into two or more species, and we had lots of them in the Mang Den area, as well as good sightings at Dalat and Langbian
GOLDEN-BREASTED FULVETTA (Lioparus chrysotis robsoni)
Speaking of potential splits... Golden-breasted Fulvetta has a reasonably wide distribution in the Himalayan foothills well to the north (China, Nepal, India etc.), but the population in the isolated mountains of Central Vietnam is very disjunct, and the birds here look different than the ones well to the north. This was a real highlight at the very end of our birding up at Ngoc Linh.
INDOCHINESE FULVETTA (Fulvetta danisi)
Some brief views of these montane forest skulkers during our Ngoc Linh hike.
GRAY-HEADED PARROTBILL (Psittiparus gularis)
Really nice views of a small group in the ethereal forest of Ngoc Linh.
BLACK-HEADED PARROTBILL (Psittiparus margaritae) [E]
Wowee! A couple of very large flocks of these charismatic endemics at Deo Nui San Pass, the first of which provided some very good and prolonged views of a bunch of individuals.
CHESTNUT-FLANKED WHITE-EYE (Zosterops erythropleurus)
A flock of around twenty of these was frenetically moving between tree canopies at Ngoc Linh
SWINHOE'S WHITE-EYE (Zosterops simplex simplex)
The abundant white-eye in Hanoi.
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BABBLER (Timalia pileata)
Excellent views of this snappy looking babbler in Di Linh and then some brief looks at loudly calling birds at Cat Tien.
GRAY-FACED TIT-BABBLER (Mixornis kelleyi)
Abundant at Cat Tien.
PIN-STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (Mixornis gularis)
Very common in vine tangles around Cuc Phuong.
GOLDEN BABBLER (Cyanoderma chrysaeum)
Excellent views of a couple feeding out in the open over the road at Mang Den.
RUFOUS-CAPPED BABBLER (Cyanoderma ruficeps)
Good views out in the open amongst a roadside vine tangle at Bidoup.
CORAL-BILLED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus ferruginosus) [*]
These were making a ruckus below the road at Ngoc Linh, but they never quite revealed themselves.
RED-BILLED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus ochraceiceps)
Spectacular close up views of a troop of these at Deo Nui San Pass.
GRAY-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigriceps)
Our best views of this species were of the very cooperative pair at Bidoup.
RUFOUS-WINGED FULVETTA (Schoeniparus castaneceps stepanyani)
In a mixed flock in the forest high up at Ngoc Linh, giving reasonable views, though they melted back into the forest within a minute or so.
BLACK-CROWNED FULVETTA (Schoeniparus klossi) [E]
We snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the eleventh hour with excellent point blank views of a group of three at Bidoup.
RUFOUS-THROATED FULVETTA (Schoeniparus rufogularis)
We unfortunately were dealt a bad weather hand while we looked for these, but we heard them very well, and got several brief, but good (if you were lucky enough to be in the right spot during one of the appearances) views in the dark, rainy forest.
RUSTY-CAPPED FULVETTA (Schoeniparus dubius cui)
A very confiding troop of these at Ngoc Linh. Because of the remoteness of this forest, they, unlike many other forest birds of Vietnam, clearly haven't learned to fear humans yet.
PUFF-THROATED BABBLER (Pellorneum ruficeps)
Nice views on the final morning at Cat Tien.
SPOT-THROATED BABBLER (Pellorneum albiventre) [*]
We heard a pair of these singing along the roadside on afternoon at Mang Den.
ABBOTT'S BABBLER (Malacocincla abbotti) [*]
Serenading us from the forest on our way to Crocodile Lake.
STREAKED WREN-BABBLER (Gypsophila brevicaudata) [*]
Heard in the forest trails at Mang Den.
ANNAM LIMESTONE BABBLER (Gypsophila annamensis)
We had some views through intervening forest of a pair against their limestone outcrop home at Cuc Phuong, and we heard their loud, resonant call and response very well.
SHORT-TAILED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Napothera danjoui danjoui)
BLACK-BROWED FULVETTA (Alcippe grotei)
MOUNTAIN FULVETTA (Alcippe peracensis)
VIETNAMESE CUTIA (Cutia legalleni) [E]
GRAY-CROWNED CROCIAS (Laniellus langbianis) [E]
RED-TAILED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron milnei)
Brief but solid views of this stunning Laughingthrush on our afternoon at Ngoc Lay.
COLLARED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron yersini) [E]
Fantastic, amazing, fulfilling experience with a small group of these iconic endemic laughingthrushes up on Mt. Langbian. What great birds!
BLACK-HEADED SIBIA (ENGELBACHI/KINGI) (Heterophasia desgodinsi kingi) [*]
We heard this taxon singing loudly over us at Ngoc Linh, but we never laid eyes on it as a group.
BLACK-HEADED SIBIA (LANG BIAN) (Heterophasia desgodinsi robinsoni)
Repeated good views across all four days spanning our Langbian Plateau explorations. This is one that is targeted by the cage bird trade, but hasn't gotten particularly difficult to find, unlike some other similarly persecuted species.
BLUE-WINGED MINLA (Actinodura cyanouroptera wingatei)
We had a couple of these around Mang Den. This form is much more boldly marked than the next entry, though they are still currently considered the same species by western taxonomic committees (but for how long?).
BLUE-WINGED MINLA (Actinodura cyanouroptera orientalis)
Also known as "Plain Minla," and a strong candidate for a future split, which would give the Langbian Plateau yet another endemic species.
BLACK-CROWNED BARWING (Actinodura sodangorum) [E]
Some good views of this relatively newly described endemic, at Ngoc Linh.
SILVER-EARED MESIA (Leiothrix argentauris)
Ngoc Lay and then the Ta Nung Valley.
RED-TAILED MINLA (Minla ignotincta)
Some quick views of these black-masked songbirds amidst one of the fast moving bird waves up at Ngoc Linh.
LESSER NECKLACED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax monileger)
One or two mixed in with one of the large troops of White-crested Laughingthrushes at Yok Don.
WHITE-CRESTED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax leucolophus)
We ran into a couple of raucous gaggles at Yok Don, and also heard them at Cat Tien.
BLACK-HOODED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax milleti)
A couple of very nice views of gangs of these garrulous but shy laughers. The subspecies that we encountered is G.m.sweeti, named after the current curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History, as it was described after the institution's 1999 expedition to the rugged, poorly explored central highlands.
WHITE-CHEEKED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Pterorhinus vassali)
Really good views at Ta Nung Valley, and then again at Bidoup.
BURMESE NUTHATCH (Sitta neglecta)
At Yok Don, we heard a couple of these dry forest nuthatches, and also saw a very vocal one that seemed glued to its treetop perch.
CHESTNUT-VENTED NUTHATCH (Sitta nagaensis)
A lot of these in the Dalat area.
VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH (Sitta frontalis)
Cuc Phuong (Bong), Yok Don, and Deo Nui San Pass.
YELLOW-BILLED NUTHATCH (Sitta solangiae)
What a bird! Not only is this a range restricted nuthatch, but it's a very snazzy looking one, with matching yellow bill and eye-ring. This was a high priority, and we had a couple of great encounters with it in Mang Den.
HUME'S TREECREEPER (Certhia manipurensis meridionalis)
We had a nice and intimate experience with one of these fantastic birds at Langbian.
GOLDEN-CRESTED MYNA (Ampeliceps coronatus)
A couple gave us a nice flyover during our first afternoon at the Forest Floor balcony.
COMMON HILL MYNA (Gracula religiosa)
A half dozen flew over us at Bong.
BLACK-COLLARED STARLING (Gracupica nigricollis)
Abundant around Di Linh
CHESTNUT-TAILED STARLING (Sturnia malabarica)
Three of these teed up on our morning in Di Linh.
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis)
Surprisingly scarce, and we didn't encounter it until nearly two full weeks through the tour, in Dalat.
VINOUS-BREASTED STARLING (Acridotheres burmannicus)
Plenty coming out of roosts in the sprawling coffee plantations of Di Linh.
WHITE'S THRUSH (Zoothera aurea aurea)
One of these monster, pot-bellied thrushes, flew in front of the bus as we drove slowly through Cuc Phuong one morning.
GREEN COCHOA (Cochoa viridis) [*]
Heard at a couple of sites (Ngoc Linh, Langbian), but as usual, not seen.
ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH (ORANGE-HEADED) (Geokichla citrina innotata)
This was the taxon we saw well in the road at Cat Tien on our final morning there.
ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH (BUFF-THROATED) (Geokichla citrina aurimacula)
In the road at Cuc Phuong and in the forest at Bidoup.
CHINESE BLACKBIRD (Turdus mandarinus mandarinus)
Hanoi, Cuc Phuong, and Lo Xo Pass.
JAPANESE THRUSH (Turdus cardis)
The most common thrush at Cuc Phuong.
GRAY-BACKED THRUSH (Turdus hortulorum)
One male at Bong Substation.
BLACK-BREASTED THRUSH (Turdus dissimilis)
One nice male in the road at Cuc Phuong.
DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa sibirica)
Yok Don, Cat Tien.
ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa dauurica)
Yok Don, Cat Tien.
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus saularis)
In the old city of Hanoi, and then at a couple of other places along the way.
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (Copsychus malabaricus)
A few encounters of very shy birds at Cuc Phuong, and every day encounters with still shy, but maybe less shy, individuals at Cat Tien. This is one of the most heavily persecuted species by the out-of-control pet trade in Vietnam. You can see the effect trapping has on bird behavior by comparing their shyness here to their boldness in Hawaii, where they were introduced and face no human threat.
RUFOUS-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Anthipes solitaris)
Lots of song and ultimately good views for all, at Bidoup.
WHITE-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Cyornis concretus) [*]
One of these was singing from close to the road at Cuc Phuong, but we couldn't get group views in the darkness and drizzle.
HAINAN BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis hainanus)
INDOCHINESE BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis sumatrensis)
Quite common at Cat Tien, where we even got scope views of a couple of different males.
LARGE NILTAVA (Niltava grandis decorata)
Langbian and Bidoup.
FUJIAN NILTAVA (Niltava davidi)
A male working the dark canopy of a tree with many thrushes at Cuc Phuong.
VERDITER FLYCATCHER (Eumyias thalassinus)
Good views on several days across the tour route. What a blue!
LESSER SHORTWING (Brachypteryx leucophris langbianensis)
Heard giving beautiful serenades at Ta Nung Valley and Langbian, and a female seen at Bidoup.
RUFOUS-TAILED ROBIN (Larvivora sibilans)
Nice views of one of these skulkers at Cuc Phuong, and heard there several other times.
SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN (Larvivora cyane)
Heard in a couple of places, but atypically excellent looks had at this forest floor skulker at Bidoup NP.
BLUE WHISTLING-THRUSH (YELLOW-BILLED) (Myophonus caeruleus eugenei)
One of these bulky thrushes was calling and mostly staying hidden at the bottom of Ta Nung Valley, but it also slipped into the open for good views a couple of times.
SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT (Calliope calliope)
Briefly seen while we were on the hunt for prinias, but mostly heard only giving its variety of call notes from dense brush.
WHITE-TAILED ROBIN (Myiomela leucura)
These couldn't have gotten any more confiding even if they were in a cage.
MUGIMAKI FLYCATCHER (Ficedula mugimaki)
Three encounters, with a female at Ngoc Lay, and then males at Tuyen Lam and Langbian.
SNOWY-BROWED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hyperythra)
Beautiful views of males at Bidoup.
TAIGA FLYCATCHER (Ficedula albicilla)
Common at Yok Don and also seen in Dalat.
PLUMBEOUS REDSTART (Phoenicurus fuliginosus)
Nice views of a bird below the bridge at Lo Xo Pass.
WHITE-THROATED ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola gularis)
Real nice views of a male just before dusk alongside the road at Tuyen Lam.
BLUE ROCK-THRUSH (PANDOO) (Monticola solitarius pandoo)
On the scenic karst outcrops at Van Long.
BLUE ROCK-THRUSH (PHILIPPENSIS) (Monticola solitarius philippensis)
The red-bellied subspecies of the widely familiar Blue Rock-Thrush was encountered at Lo Xo Pass and near Ngoc Lay.
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata)
A couple of these around Cat Tien - a male at Crocodile Lake and a pair in the road through the grasslands.
GRAY BUSHCHAT (Saxicola ferreus)
Scattered around open habitats around Dalat, especially at Tuyen Lam Lake.
THICK-BILLED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum agile)
Nice views at Tuyen Lam Lake.
YELLOW-VENTED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum chrysorrheum)
Brief views around Mang Den.
FIRE-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER (FIRE-BREASTED) (Dicaeum ignipectus ignipectus)
Several encounters across our week or so in the central highlands.
SCARLET-BACKED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum cruentatum)
Cuc Phuong and Cat Tien, but not seen well in between.
BROWN-THROATED SUNBIRD (Anthreptes malacensis)
A couple around the deck at Forest Floor.
OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris jugularis)
A few of this very widespread (maybe they will eventually split it into several?) species around Cat Tien.
BLACK-THROATED SUNBIRD (BLACK-THROATED) (Aethopyga saturata ochra)
BLACK-THROATED SUNBIRD (DALAT) (Aethopyga saturata johnsi)
The johnsi subspecies is a Langbian Plateau endemic, and we had a couple of encounters with them, at Ta Nung Valley and Deo Nui San Pass.
MRS. GOULD'S SUNBIRD (PURPLE-RUMPED) (Aethopyga gouldiae annamensis)
Likely to be eventually split, this taxon would become Annam Sunbird, and is found only on the Langbian Plateau. Excellent looks around Dalat.
GREEN-TAILED SUNBIRD (GREEN-TAILED) (Aethopyga nipalensis ezrai)
A few encounters high up at Ngoc Linh.
FORK-TAILED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga christinae)
This sunbird presented very well in Cuc Phuong at the very beginning of the tour.
LITTLE SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera longirostra)
Several encounters at Cat Tien, with especially good views a couple of times.
STREAKED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera magna)
With us throughout the tour, though often only seen flying over giving their loud, strident flight calls.
ASIAN FAIRY-BLUEBIRD (Irena puella)
Spectacular views of these jaw-droppingly gorgeous birds in the Ta Nung Valley. When seen flying over giving their unobtrusive flight calls, a frequent mode of encounter with the species, it's difficult to appreciate their beauty. Thankfully that wasn't a problem for us this year though!
BLUE-WINGED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis cochinchinensis)
The most common and widespread leafbird during our time in the country, with encounters at several locations from Cuc Phuong all the way through to Cat Tien. Best experiences around the lodge at Cat Tien, where they would forage for most of the day very close to the deck.
ORANGE-BELLIED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis hardwickii)
A brief but very nice encounter with a couple that flew in and landed in a tree next to us during our morning at Ngoc Linh.
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA (Lonchura punctulata)
Encountered at a couple of locations during the second half of the tour, including a couple of times around Dalat.
WHITE-RUMPED MUNIA (Lonchura striata)
Including birds building nests at both Deo Nui San Pass and at Cat Tien.
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
Encountered only once with certainty as a group during the tour - during our roasted chicken lunch stop south of Dalat.
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus)
FOREST WAGTAIL (Dendronanthus indicus)
We encountered these shy wagtails on a couple of occasions in Cat Tien. Seeing how well they blend into the leaf litter alongside the roads despite their very bold wing patterns was fascinating.
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea)
Our most common and widespread wagtail - especially fond of road edges through hill and montane forest, especially but not only around water.
OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT (Anthus hodgsoni)
Surprisingly sparse this year. A few flushed up off a shaded lawn at Bong Substation, and then we had a couple flying circles over us on our morning along the road at Ngoc Linh.
VIETNAMESE GREENFINCH (Chloris monguilloti) [E]
One of the Vietnamese endemics that we look for on the Langbian plateau, and they performed exceptionally well this year. We had multiple encounters, and a couple of them were extended views at very close range.
CRAB-EATING MACAQUE (Macaca fascigularis)
Also known as Long-tailed Macaque, we saw this species several times, including a couple of larger troops (upwards of 20 individuals for one), once of which was mixed in with Douc Langurs!
PIGTAIL MACAQUE (Macaca nemestrina)
A couple of these alongside the road on our morning drive out to Crocodile Lake.
BLACK-SHANKED DOUC LANGUR (Pygathrix nigripes)
This Critically Endangered (IUCN) primate is only found in the Cambodia-Vietnam border area, with the majority in Cambodia and likely less than a thousand of them in Vietnam, but Cat Tien is perhaps the best place to see them in the world. We had several encounters with these cool looking leaf monkeys!
YELLOW-CHEEKED GIBBON (Nomascus gabriellae)
Awesome, amazing, fantastic views of a small troop of these regional endemics at Cat Tien, including a mother and young one. These endangered monkeys change color over the course of their lives - all being born blonde to blend into their mother's plumage, and then turning black as they get older, with females turning back to blonde/rusty when they reach sexual maturity. What amazing animals!
PALLAS'S RED-BELLIED SQUIRREL (Callosciurus erythraeus)
We had these in several locations, and it lived up to its other name: Variable Squirrel. We saw a range of colors from rich dark reddish to a gray reminiscent of Eastern Gray Squirrels in the USA.
CAMBODIAN FLYING SQUIRREL (Tamiops rodolphii)
Yok Don and Cat Tien
FORMOSAN STRIPED SQUIRREL (Tamiops maritimus)
Cuc Phuong, and the Langbian Plateau (the latter at least being the T.m.moi subspecies).
NORWAY (BROWN) RAT (Rattus norvegicus)
A couple of these, including while owling near the Cuc Phuong HQ.
YELLOW-THROATED MARTEN (Martes flavigula)
A great show by two of these on the road on our first morning at Cat Tien made up for the one that only Doug saw for a millisecond as it disappeared across the road at Ngoc Linh.
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
One got flushed off the road and shot off into the denser vegetation as we came back from our dusk drive.
LESSER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus javanicus)
A mother and young of these hopped across the road in front of us a couple of times on our final morning at Cat Tien. Also known as Lesser Oriental Chevrotain, they are so small (the smallest hoofed animal in the world) and oddly proportioned that they seem to move like Agoutis, but they are indeed ungulates.
MUNTJAC (BARKING DEER) (Muntiacus muntjak)
Several of these in Cat Tien, and seen on both of our group dusk expeditions.
SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor)
Two of these on the dusk drive at Cat Tien, and then a few more on our dusk/night walk there.
GAUR (Bos gaurus)
Our dusk drive driver told us that Gaur hadn't been seen in a long time - months. Then a passing motorbiker told him to be careful and watch out because there were some Gaur up ahead. We headed up the road, and not only were there Gaur, but there were 35 of them!!! Perhaps another byproduct of the pandemic is the boom in animals around the parts of Cat Tien visited by guests (since it was closed to visitors for so long).
COMMON HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus frenatus)
Regularly seen, and present around most of our accommodations. We'll see what species this is once the potential many-way split of the House Geckos comes along...
TOKAY GECKO (Gekko gecko)
We heard these aural icons of the region on several occasions, and at least Harlan was lucky enough to see one, in or around his cabin at Cat Tien.
ORIENTAL GARDEN LIZARD (Calotes versicolor)
At least one of these, in a field edge at Di Linh.
COMMON MOCK VIPER (Psammodynastes pulverulentus)
This tiny pencil-thick snake was spotted by Bill on trail edge as we hiked our way out to Crocodile Lake.
ORIENTAL RAT SNAKE (Ptyas mucosa)
This one was spotted by Harlan as it slithered its way across the Dong Nai river across from the HQ compound at Cat Tien.
VOGEL'S PIT VIPER (Trimeresurus vogeli)
We had been standing in one spot for quite a while when Val spotted this beautiful emerald green gem motionless and blending into the forest just feet from us, and where we had been ogling an interesting-looking stick insect just minutes before.
VIETNAMESE BRONZEBACK (Dendrelaphis ngansonensis)
This was Val's second snake spotting, and we got to watch it slither back and forth through the roadside bamboo, hunting, on our first morning at Cat Tien.
GREEN CAT SNAKE (Boiga cyanea)
We nearly stepped on this big snake as we entered a forest trail at Yok Don. Pretty soon, it was clear that it was not moving, and after poking it and attempting to get it to move off the trail with no response, we made a guess that it was potentially dead (or digesting). On the way back it was in the same spot, though the tail was in a slightly different position. We again tried to get it to move and this time it woke up and moved a bit more off the trail, though very slowly - it WAS alive!
SIAMESE CROCODILE (Crocodylus siamensis)
What a cool experience it was seeing these huge animals in the only place to see them in the wild in Vietnam. They were reintroduced to Crocodile Lake around twenty years ago, after the species had been extirpated in the wild in Vietnam. We even got to watch one stalking a Gray-headed Swamphen (perhaps near a nest), much to the swamphen's continued chagrin. Perhaps the most memorable part of our crocodile experience was hearing their deep, rumbling/growling calls towards the end of our stay there. That could really make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!
FLYING LIZARD SP. (Draco sp.)
We had a couple of these on trees in the forests of Cat Tien.
BROWN LEECH (Haemadipsa zyelanica)
Everyone should recall seeing one or two...hundred. Cat Tien was experiencing a record leech year, and since it rained a couple of times during and before our stay, they were still out in force (though I gather it was much worse a month or more prior, during the wet season).
COMMON BIRDWING (Troides helena)
A few of these impressive big floating butterflies , especially as we moved south. Perhaps the highest number were at Deo Nui San.
WHITE DRAGONTAIL (Lamproptera curius)
The two species of Lamproptera (dragontails) have a completely unique look and flight style among butterflies, and we got to see quite a few White Dragontails in the gardens at the Cuc Phuong HQ and Bong Substation.
Totals for the tour: 322 bird taxa and 14 mammal taxa