When: January 2017 630am Weather: Cool 10-15C
Nikon P900. Leica M240 35 summilux
Getting away from Chinese New Year in Singapore, we headed to Dalat, the cool montane plateau region of Vietnam, one the main birding locations. You need to stop in HCM City to connect onto a 40min flight to Dalat which is at 1500m elevation. The cool mountain air is immediately apparent when you get off the plane….
We hired a car, driver and bird guide, Tien, whose day job was with the National Park at Bidoup. Setting off from Dalat at 530am, our first foray was to head to a birding area adjacent to Bidoup NP called Cong Troi. Our guide confidently predicted that whilst Cong Troi was currently not on the birding map, it would soon be especially as the Ta Nung valley area is now closed to visitors due to construction! The 35km road was very quiet as we went along and the scenery was quite stunning…
Sunrise on the lake shortly after we set off…
Perched near the road was this pair of Black Collared Starlings
The first area we stopped at about 30km from Dalat was a wooded track just next to this sign…..this is not the main entrance to the park….
the morning started off quietly enough with the common scarlet minivet…
and then the first lifer of the trip for me..the chestnut vented nuthatch….you can see the chestnut just under the wing laterally and they also have an interesting mottled vent which I managed to photograph elsewhere….
The long and winding road to Cong Troi, flanked by pine forest…we then stopped and birded along the road….
a yellow browed warbler popped up
and started singing merrily to us…
and in a flurry of outrageous colour, a Mrs Gould’s sunbird perched and sang…
Mrs Gould’s sunbird…widespread in south east Asia
and then on a distant tree, a flash of iridescent blue…..
the magnificent Verditer Flycatcher, with its typical black patch between the eyes.
And we continued along the road till we got to a nondescript area and started walking along a trail…..the trail itself was very active…
Kloss’ leaf warbler…
a splendid little mountain fulvetta
another view of mountain fulvetta
grey crowned or black throated tit
A fleeting glimpse of this grey headed canary flycatcher was followed up by another fleeting glimpse of a blue and orangy brown Eurasian Jay
another lifer….the bar winged flycatcher shrike
a green backed tit
But all this was merely a prelude to what was to come…..we were brought to a hide just about a hundred meters or so inside the forest…..so we settled to wait…and almost immediately, a flurry of activity….
from within the hide, there was a little clearing with a bird feeder set up…
A snowy browed flycatcher perched and gazed at us
Here, the snowy brow clearly seen…
then this wonderfully blue Large Niltava (male) appeared…
he also posed…
close up Large Niltava male
the snowy browed FC and the large Niltava eyeing each other ….
and then another large blue bird appeared, very similar in hue and size to the Large Niltava…only this was a White-tailed Robin (actually an old world FC)
here we can see the white tail feathers which give the bird its name
one of the sought after and hard to photograph birds of the Dalat area, the ever active Grey bellied Tesia….
grey bellied Tesia
Grey bellied Tesia
Having just shot the orange headed thrush in the Singapore Botanic Gardens a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised to find another one here….
orange headed thrush
and then in a flurry of activity, this white browed scimitar babbler made an appearance
front view of white browed scimitar babbler
white browed scimitar babbler
and then the star bird of the morning, the endemic and endangered Collared Laughing Thrush!
Collared laughing thrush
and another appeared!
the last bird of the morning was this brown bird with a blue head….the female large Niltava
the contrast in colours was striking
close up female Large Niltava
Calling it a day after waiting fruitlessly for the bar backed partridge, we headed back to Dalat at 2pm. This was a spectacular morning’s birding and without a guide, we’d never have found the number of species we did…thanks to Tien. I do believe that Cong Troi will be a major birding location…maybe that’s not such a good thing if the hordes of birders descend there! Highly recommended.