Birding in the Da Lat highlands, S. Vietnam

on 1st February 2013

“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!”

Lena Chow
27th December 2012

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

4 Responses

  1. Dear Lena

    My wife & I experienced the same poverty of birdlife when we visited Vietnam recently. Two possible factors. One the rapid “development” which basically means destruction of habitat. And possibly that birds are eaten, as I discovered in China.


  2. Yes, the intense hunting of birds as mentioned is indeed for human consumption, as was explained to us.
    The rapid development and logging that I also mentioned, is especially stark in scenic areas, where it was rather depressing to see large patches of cleared forest, with billboards touting the plan of converting the whole area into a lifestyle resort destination, with holiday chateaus and recreational facilities. These are places which were birding hotspots just a few years ago, going by the trip reports that I was reading before my trip.

  3. Looks like we have left them too late. Would have been better 6-8years ago even before Air Asia flys that sector.

    I find that generally touristy places are really not so suitable for ‘forest people’ like us unless one engages and enjoy shopping and into food sampling spree.
    My recent trip to Bali is no exception…to the extreme, there is no reliable public bus transport viable to take independant travellers around and had to depend on the monopoly of taxis for extorted fares.
    Either one ends up on day excursion trips to see stones, stones, temples, ricefields, factory outlets and more stones or get trapped in town and get sucked into a shopping frenzy.But excellent for honeymooners and massage and cheap beers.



  4. Me and my friend went to Dalat last week and stayed for 2 weeks there fro bird watching. We identify around 81 spices and if including IP may be around 90.
    I saw Lesser yellownape and enjoyed with him for a hour. Such an amazing time.

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