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Vietnam: Mystery forest bird near Hanoi

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Old Sunday 11th September 2011, 15:22   #1
kiwiguy
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Vietnam: Mystery forest bird near Hanoi

Sorry, no photo, but I saw a very large (by local standards) bird in a small piece of forest just outside Hanoi and I cannot identify it.

It was large and heavy set, dwarfing a solitary Sooty-headed Bulbul that sat on a nearby branch for a brief time - I would estimate 45-60cm long (including its long tail). It sat twice in very thick areas, giving me a long time to scope it with binoculars. The thick areas it sat in meant it was difficult to ever see the whole bird, and I never saw the head. Its back was dark brown with a few random, (appearing) feather tips being a cream colour. When I Googled images of Asian Koel and Greater Coucal immature, both had many more light spots that this bird. What I thought would be distinctive, but have not been able to find was the wing. The upper wing had a blackish-blue area near the shoulder, and the cream feather-tips formed two (imperfect) rings below this coloured area, that circled the lower half of it. Any help greatly appreciated with this one.

Thanks in advance,

Wayne
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Old Monday 12th September 2011, 04:20   #2
Gretchen
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When you mentioned Koels and Coucals, I first thought maybe of a Malkoha, but I don't know that they are any more likely to have the light coloring you described.

I don't have a clear image of the rings you describe - is it the feather tips of the coverts or tertials? or lower like the primaries? However for someone else this may ring a bell...
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2011, 07:17   #3
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I realise you've looked at Koels, but the description you give really reminds of a young male koel starting to moult into adult plumage. This would account for the blue-black shoulder (adult plumage) and the pale spots (juvenile plumage).
When I've seen these in the past, the pale tips to the coverts form two rings of pale spots exactly as you describe.
Try comparing these birds in varying stages of moult: http://orientalbirdimages.org/search...ID=&pagesize=1
http://orientalbirdimages.org/search...ID=&pagesize=1
http://www.hkbws.org.hk/BBS/viewthre...highlight=koel

The pictures you have looked at may have shown females, which are much paler and spottier than the males.
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Old Tuesday 13th September 2011, 08:28   #4
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Thanks for your help guys

Looking at these images, this bird was somewhere in between the first and third images, so yes, I guess it was an Asian Koel, moulting between immature and adult. I did get great views of an adult female last year and this current bird appeared a lot bigger, but things can be deceiving with binoculars...

Guess I need to use the Oriental Bird Club images more to sort our juvenile and near juvenile birds, as a few have given me difficulty over the last year.

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