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City birding and Cat Tien (1 Viewer)

barbet225

Member
Hello all,

I will be visiting Vietnam this coming June and I am just looking for some birding advice. My travel partners aren't birders so I'll be forced to bird mostly in the cities we visit, are there some spots around in Hoi An, Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh? We are also planning for a day on Halong and in the mekong delta region (on the way to Cambodia), and maybe Sapa.

Also, they've agreed to one bird outing, would my best luck be Cat Tien National Park?

Thanks
 

dalat

...
Most cities are pretty birdless, apart from 4-5 common species, so don't put much hope in this. Hanoi has some great birds during migration, but not in June.
Hoi An may be better, you can rent a bicycle there and ride around the rice fields and shrimp ponds, where you will find a selection of kingfihsers, beeeaters, shrikes and the like. Hue will probabaly have similar possibilities, but I don't know it. (you can make a day trip to Bach Ma National park from Hue, which is also nice for Nonbirders). Don't expect to see much in Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta (unless you go to some of the national parks there)

Cat Tien is great, even in June, but pretty hot and damp (and many bugs and leeches) at this time. Dalat may be a better bet, as the climate is cooler.

Dalat is probably also your best bet for combining birding with non birding, as it is about the only town in Vietnam with good birding site nearby. You can easily do your mornings out birding, and be back at lunchtime, to do some other stuff. Worthwhile for a couple of days. That said, Cat Tien is also great for non-birders with some minimum of interest in nature, best place in Vietnam to get some real jungle feel...
 

Jonathan Williams

Well-known member
I visited Vietnam in 2001 and we spent a good afternoon in Hanoi Botanical gardens, this was in April so in migration season. Pretty good birding, with plenty of Olive-backed Pipits, Forest Wagtails, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Radde's Warbler, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Brown and Taiga Flycatchers too plus plenty of other species that I can't remember. Some good stuff. The Yellow-rumped Flycatcher was an absolutely stunning male.
 

dalat

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I visited Vietnam in 2001 and we spent a good afternoon in Hanoi Botanical gardens, this was in April so in migration season. Pretty good birding, with plenty of Olive-backed Pipits, Forest Wagtails, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Radde's Warbler, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Brown and Taiga Flycatchers too plus plenty of other species that I can't remember. Some good stuff. The Yellow-rumped Flycatcher was an absolutely stunning male.

Yes indeed, in spring and automn, the Hanoi parks can yield some true goodies. However, don't expect the same in June.

I forgot to mention some more ideas on day trips from Hanoi, that can be interesting to both birders and non-birders. The National Parks Tam Dao and Ba Vi offer both pleasant walks, nice scenery and opportunities to see birds.

Cuc Phuong National Park is also nice and popular among normal tourists, and the nearby Van Long cliffs (neasr Ninh Binh) offer scenic boat rides and the chance to see the Delancour Langurs plus some water birds.


Ah, and Sapa: try the Ham Rong gardens in town (early morning!) or the forest at Tram Tom Pass.
 
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barbet225

Member
Thanks for all the advise! Is it possible to bird Cat Tien without a guide though? I'm just a student, so I'm trying to save where I can. I was thinking of hiring a local guide (the lodge we are planning on said they knew someone) for a day then maybe trying to do the rest on my own. Is this possible in the area? I have never been to SE Asia so I'm not at all familiar with the species yet, though I'll be reading up extensively before our trip.
 

dalat

...
Hi,
Cat Tien is pretty easy without a guide. You'll have no troubles to find the paths (reading some trip reports before helps to get a first overview). But of course if you are new to SE Asia, a good guide will help you to at least double your list. If you get a guide, get one from the National Park centre, and make it clear you want a bird guide (Duyen is the best). Not sure what lodge you are staying, I guess that's a place outside the park. I doubt that these people will get you someone who really knows birds (unless its one of the park guides of course). I'd recommend to stay 2-3 nights in Cat Tien, and get a guide at least for the first day.

BTW, make sure you learn the Blue-winged Pitta calls ;)
 
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barbet225

Member
Haha yes I will be downloading some calls to memorize for sure! I had tried contacting the national park but not much success. We are planning on staying at the Green Bamboo Lodge, and they said the guide whom they use is named Mr. Trong. Not sure if I should take my chances or keep looking
 

dalat

...
Green Bamboo Lodge
Ok, I looked it up, and they seem indeed to target birders, and mention a few bird names on their website. Maybe things have evolved. You could give it a try, and if the guide is no good, you can still get one from the NP on short notice... (in June, guides will not be booked out)
 

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