Monday, April 23, 2018

Birding Vietnam (part VI)

Okay, it's time to finish this list!

But first I will say, I obviously did not become a birder while in Vietnam, because just yesterday we were out for a walk, and what did we see but a couple of small raptors! But could I get a closer look, in order to identify them? NO! Because I was out and about without my bins! A real birder does not go anywhere without her bins. My initial thought (for no reason whatsoever, except it didn't look like a kestrel—not colorful enough) was that it was a merlin. A quick look at the relatively few falcons in The Sibley Guide to Birds neither confirms nor denies. So I remain clueless. And . . . did I take my bins on today's walk, just in case the same raptors showed themselves? NO! See: so not a real birder . . .

Anyway, back to Vietnam. Here's a final rogues' gallery of some of the birds I got a good look at, even if only once. First, a few flycatchers and a thrush:

Siberian stonechat (Saxicola maura). Photo by John Richardson
And yes, we generally saw them perched atop reeds and grasses,
just like this.
Plumbeous Water Redstart (Phoenicurus fuliginosus).
Photo by Phillip Edwards
Hainan Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis hainanis). Photo by cookdj
Japanese Thrush (Turdus cardis). Photo by Neil Fifer
Looking very much (except in coloration and spottage)
like our good friend Turdus migratorius, the American robin.

And then there were a few starlings, which I am in the habit of not liking much because the European starling is such a pest hereabouts, but Asian Sturnidae (a family that includes mynas) have softened me a bit.

Chestnut-tailed Starling (Sturnia malabarica).
Photo by Nayan Khanolkar
Black-collared Starling (Sturnus nigricollis). Photo by Dave Irving
This is another bird that the Vietnamese like to keep caged, for their song.
Golden-crested Myna (Ampeliceps coronatus). Photo by Harold Stiver

And finally, let's finish this thing off with gaudiness—the sunbirds! And finally finally, a repeat appearance by the ten-foot-long green peacock, which I will never forget seeing.

Crimson Sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja). Photo by wokoti
Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis).
Photo by Paul van Giersbergen
Mrs. Gould's Sunbird (Aethopyga gouldiae). Photo by Gary Kinard
Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus). Photo by James Keith

I thoroughly enjoyed my three weeks of "walking meditation," especially being surrounded by so many experienced and generous birders. Whenever someone spotted something, every effort was made to make sure that everyone saw the bird: a green laser pointer helped in the dark jungle, and we all got pretty good at describing particular features in otherwise dense and chaotic forests. Birding can be a competitive sport, but our little group was by and large more interested in a quality experience for all than in personal bests.

So in addition to the 222 bird species I saw (most of which I will not remember, except for their fabulous names: fulvettas! yuhinas! prinias! pittas!), I'd like to acknowledge our valiant leader, Susan Myer, and her co-leader Luke, for the first half; the Brits Mary and Michael, Jules and Ange, David, and Gill; and Dixie from New Hampshire, Sally from Tucson, Doug from Richmond, Virginia, and (for the second half) Matt from the office (i.e., the head honcho at WINGS Birding Tours)—as well as our local assistants/fixers/translators Luan and Nhan.

And now, I need to turn my attention to all the photos I took in Vietnam—not a one of them of birds. Because it's way too hard. I admire Susan and Michael for their efforts on that front. I hope that they met with success, even if it's just one shot that they're proud of. That would be plenty.

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