Tuesday, 28 February 2017

28th February 2017 Tam Dao NP

Having breakfast pre-dawn in a small restaurant opposite our hotel the gloomy foggy weather didn't look promising, but hardly unexpected, having read a good few trip reports by birders enduring similar conditions. We arrived at the water tank trail and parked at the ranger station being greeted by the resident dogs. However, a male Fork-tailed Sunbird did its best to brighten the early morning gloom. In fact, considering the conditions, the bird activity proved really quite good and we were soon enjoying watching Chestnut Bulbuls, Spot-necked Babblers, David's Fulvettas and Brownish-flanked Bush-Warblers but there was no sign of any Short-tailed Parrotbills. A Red-vented Barbet then proved a very welcome surprise being a species that we felt we had left behind on leaving Dalat. Thang then took us to a location at which Blue-naped Pitta is sometimes seen although explained that recently it took a visiting couple from Hong Kong four whole days before they saw one there. Needless to say we left empty-handed but did enjoy seeing some Streak-breasted Scimitar-babblers present there. We then made our way to the transmitter steps that proved busy with pilgrims heading to the temple. We did add poor views of a couple of Grey Laughingthrushes and heard Indochinese Green Magpie but decided our best strategy was to return to the Water Tank trail and give the Parrotbill and Pitta another try although ultimately with the same result although we did improve upon our views as a flock of Grey Laughingthrushes passed by.

Bay Woodpecker 1
Orange-bellied Leafbird 4
Black Bulbul 6
Sultan Tit 6
Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler 4
Golden Babbler 6
Spot-necked Babbler 4
Black-chinned Yuhina 8
White-bellied Erpornis 6
Oriental Magpie-Robin 1 in a cage
Pallas's Warbler 2
Claudia's Leaf-Warbler 2
Yellow-bellied Warbler 1

Tam Dao NP Water Tank Trail

Pair of Spot-necked Babblers at Tam Dao NP

Sultan Tit at Tam Dao NP

Red-vented Barbet at Tam Dao NP

Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler at Tam Dao NP

Transmitter Steps at Tam Dao NP

Monday, 27 February 2017

27th February 2017 Ho Tuyen Lam West & flight to Hanoi

In what was really a travelling day we managed to squeeze in a couple of hours at Ho Tuyen Lam West in the hope of obtaining some images of Grey-crowned Crocias. All started well as we parked at the Dalat Star sign as a Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo was seen vocalising from the top of a leafless tree at dawn. Instead of making the ascent we decided to keep to lower elevations being the area where we had seen and heard the Crocias yesterday. However, we didn't hear let alone see a single Crocias this morning in what seemed like promising habitat. There was plenty of evidence of overnight Asian Elephant activity, but despite the nice habitat, birds proved few and far between although another encounter with Vietnamese Cutia was a nice finale to our whistle-stop visit to the Dalat area. We then made the drive to Dalat Airport that was an hour or so south of the town. We said our farewells to Amtu, our ever-reliable driver, and caught our Vietnam Airlines flight to Hanoi. Our new driver, another Thang, was there to meet us and had brought his cousin along - Tony - to share the driving and learn the route. We were soon on our way to Tam Dao arriving to a cold and murky dusk. 

Chinese Pond-Heron 4
Little Egret 1
Osprey 1
Spotted Dove 2
Asian Koel h
Large-tailed Nightjar h
Mountain Bulbul 2
Ashy Bulbul 2
Black Bulbul 4
Ashy Drongo 6
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 2
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch 3
Vietnamese Cutia 1
Dalat Shrike-Babbler 1 male
Blue-winged Minla 3
Grey Bushchat 2
Yellow-browed Warbler 2
Kloss's Leaf-Warbler 4
White-throated Fantail 2
Black-collared Starling 4
Mrs. Gould's Sunbird 1
Tree Sparrow 2

Ho Tuyen Lam West

Female Grey Bushchat at Ho Tuyen Lam

Male Grey Bushchat at Ho Tuyen Lam

Black Bulbul at Ho Tuyen Lam

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch at Ho Tuyen Lam

Male Dalat Shrike-Babbler at Ho Tuyen Lam

Butterfly sp. at Ho Tuyen Lam

Sunday, 26 February 2017

26th February 2017 West Ho Tuyen Lam

We wanted to walk the ridge trail at West Ho Tuyen Lam but our driver initially took us to another site on the east side of the lake. After querying and checking the GPS, he made a quick phonecall to Thang, and rectified the situation with us still arriving at the Dalat Star sign soon after dawn. We were then pleased to find the skeleton of the metal shed and the start of the trail was then easy to find. Only 100m or so along the trail we heard a Grey-crowned Crocias calling and located it in the top of a tree viewed directly above us. Whilst its grey crown was seen as it moved around and its long tail was easy to appreciate they weren't the best of views but quite a relief after hearing one but failing to see it at Cong Troi. Another couple of Crocias were then heard but we didn't make any concerted effort to see them. The steep climb had begun in earnest that was enlivened by encountering many mixed-species flocks and among one we found a pair of Black-headed Sibia being another of our target species for the day. At this time we had inadvertently lost the trail and the various options all soon petered out. After some backtracking we found a blue arrow painted on a tree and refound the trail. Shortly after and another mixed-species flock played host to some Yellow-billed Nuthatches something that we really hoped but did not expect to see. The top of the ridge was through good forest throughout where we found some flowering Rafflesia plants that after an internet search appear to be the endangered Sapria himalayana. It was with reluctance that we turned back mid-afternoon, but almost immediately we did so, we stumbled across a Rufous-browed Flycatcher that are always good to see. Whilst descending we heard a cacophony of Laughingthrushes, with birds soon erupting from cover and they proved to be the exquisite Black-hooded Laughingthrushes. It proved to be my favourite of the sites that we visited around Dalat. 

Little Grebe 3
Chinese Pond-Heron 1
Green-billed Malkoha 1
White-throated Kingfisher 1
Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike 2
Common Woodshrike 2
Grey-chinned Minivet 4
Mountain Bulbul 2
Ashy Drongo 1
Bronzed Drongo 3
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 4
Maroon Oriole 2
Grey-crowned Bushtit 3
Rufous-capped Babbler 4
Clicking Shrike-Babbler 2
Blue-winged Minla 6
Mountain Fulvetta 6
Rufous-backed Sibia 2
White-bellied Erpornis 6
Siberian Blue Robin 1
Yellow-browed Warbler 1
Kloss's Leaf-Warbler 6
Rufous-browed Flycatcher 1
Little Pied Flycatcher 1
Large Niltava 3
Pale Blue Flycatcher 1
Grey-headed Flycatcher 4
White-throated Fantail 1
Black-collared Starling 4
'Vietnamese' Crossbill 1

Ho Tuyen Lam

Black-headed Sibia at West Ho Tuyen Lam

Yellow-billed Nuthatch at West Ho Tuyen Lam

Female Grey-chinned Minivet at West Ho Tuyen Lam

Sapria himalayana at West Ho Tuyen Lam

Butterfly sp. at West Ho Tuyen Lam

Black-hooded Laughingthrush at West Ho Tuyen Lam

Black-hooded Laughingthrush illustrated in The Ibis 1919 attributed to Henrik Gronvold
A quick read of p.575 Ibis 1919 reveals Kloss gave its latin name G. milletii in honour of  Monsieur F. Millet, the Officer in charge of the forests of  the Langbian Province and a big-game hunter!

Moth sp. at West Ho Tuyen Lam

Saturday, 25 February 2017

25th February 2017 Mount Lang Biang

On telling our driver that we wanted to leave for Mount Lang Biang at 5.30am he explained that the reserve did not officially open until 7am, but that if we were prepared to pay a little extra for the jeep ride, he felt that he would be able to arrange one on an early arrival. We were and it seemed no problem for him to arrange a jeep to the drop-off point as we arrived at the parking area. It was quite a climb through open pine forest with heavily-grazed understorey and we were glad to have saved ourselves the 2+ hour ascent on foot. The drop-off point is marked with a sign showing the trail to the 'birdwatching area' and the request to 'take only photos and leave only footprints'. From the drop-off point we still anticipated it being quite a hike to the gully at the base of summit trail but in fact it wasn't too far at all. We enjoyed having the area to ourselves for the first 3 hours or so before a steady stream of summit-walkers began to pass us on their way to the summit. We initially concentrated our efforts on the gully hearing some distant Collared Laughingthrushes and finding a singing Grey-cheeked Warbler. We then started on the ascent to the summit and readily found some mixed-species flocks containing the localised Black-crowned Fulvetta. On returning to the gully we took some paths into the forest and found a trap laced with banana. A tourist guide accompanying a couple to the summit stopped to ask if we had seen many birds. He went on to say that for the last 4 years the area has been heavily trapped with the birds put into cages and taken away. He explained that he was sad that he now saw and especially heard so few birds in the forest there. We made our way back to the drop-off point for our pre-arranged 3pm jeep ride back to the parking area that all worked smoothly. We were amazed to see, by then, such a large number of jeeps transporting day-trippers to the summit by road and were glad they hadn't all been keen to walk the trail.

Little Egret 1
Osprey 1 over lake in central Dalat
Large-tailed Nightjar h
Grey-headed Woodpecker 2
Black-crested Bulbul 1
Mountain Bulbul 2
Ashy Bulbul 2
Ashy Drongo 1
Jay 4
Yellow-cheeked Tit 4
Grey-crowned Bushtit 1
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch 4
Rufous-capped Babbler 1
Dalat Shrike-Babbler 1 male
Blue-winged Minla 3
Mountain Fulvetta 8
Grey Bushchat 2
Yellow-browed Warbler 2
Kloss's Leaf-Warbler 2
Chestnut-crowned Warbler 1
Verditer Flycatcher 1
Mugimaki Flycatcher 3
Large Niltava 1
Mrs. Gould's Sunbird 6
Tree Sparrow 5

Dawn at the parking area with cloud shrouding the summit 

Well-marked trail to the summit

Views from the trail

Male Mugimaki Flycatcher at Mount Lang Biang

Grey-headed Woodpecker at Mount Lang Biang

Male Large Niltava at Mount Lang Biang

Verditer Flycatcher at Mount Lang Biang

Male Yellow-cheeked Tit at Mount Lang Biang

Male Dalat Shrike-babbler at Mount Lang Biang

Jay at Mount Lang Biang

White Monarch at Mount Lang Biang

A few street scenes on our journey back to Dalat under threatening skies