“A father was story telling his son about a war in his sleepy, hollow village – Phong-Nha (Cave of Teeth) – where once, machine guns were pointing skywards, shooting down iron birds with painted stars on their wings. Those iron birds flew and rained fire bombs and torched the earth.
“A War Memorial en-route near entrance to the village is a sad reminder of that much miscalculated Vietnam War. The event not only destroyed many rare flora and fauna species but resulted in huge lives lost, untold miseries and casualties lame by land mines (above left).
“Almost five decades on, Phong-Nha today has learnt to move on, being fed alive by a single artery road off main Highway 1A (above right). She has reinvented herself as a stopover hot, tourists’ outpost designated for Phong-Nha cave, where the Son River flows sluggishly into (below).
“Considering its location in the buffer zone of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, few bird species were seen in the village. Most were Sparrows and Sparrows or Mynas and Sparrows! So bad that every flying object was observed in earnest until sundown.
“However, two resilient and decapitated fig trees caught my attention alongside the road pavement. Refusing to die, many small branches sprouted from its trunks (above left). In defiance to wanna live badly, the trees went on to prove their worth by fruit bearing (above right).
“My consolation sighting was a lifer appearance of a pair of Japanese White-Eye (Zosterops japonicus) foraging in a neighbouring tree with even-pinnately compound leaves that looked like an Albizia tree species (below)?
“They wasted no time to check out lunch at the fig trees by taking short sorties and ravished on the succulence of ripe, purplish fruits (below)
“For dinner appetizer, a wriggly caterpillar was had at ‘Cafe Albizia’ (below left).
Join me next for an outing at the Son River to watch a symbiotic arrangement of yet another bird species with their allies- the water buffaloes (above right).
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
5th July 2013
COPYRIGHT ARTICLE AND ALL COPY IMAGES – COURTESY OF DAISY O’NEILL BIRD CONSERVATION FUND.