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VIETNAM

Wednesday 7th March - Saturday 31st March 2018

Craig Robson

Blue-rumped Pitta (Craig Robson)

Blue-rumped Pitta (Craig Robson)

2018 brought the most comprehensive itinerary since our first pioneering tour here in 1991, and one thing is for sure, we see a hell of a lot more these days. In the lowlands of Cochinchina, at Cat Tien National Park, we enjoyed such mouth-watering specialities as Orange-necked Partridge, Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Green Peafowl, Blyth’s Frogmouth, Blue-rumped and Bar-bellied Pittas, and Grey-faced Tit-Babbler. Our exploration of the Southern Highlands was rewarded with the likes of Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Indochinese Green Magpie, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Dalat Bush Warbler, Orange-breasted, Collared, Black-hooded and White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Vietnamese Cutia, Grey-crowned Crocias, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Black-headed Parrotbill, Vietnamese Greenfinch, and ‘Vietnamese’ Crossbill. The relatively little known and unexplored Central Highlands are now an integral part of the tour. Specialities here included three relatively recently discovered endemics/near-endemics: Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush, the highly localized Golden-winged Laughingthrush, and Black-crowned Barwing, as well as the slightly more widespread Indochinese Fulvetta. We also observed a whole host of little-known local forms and potential splits, and some beauties like Golden-breasted Fulvetta and Red-tailed Laughingthrush. A range of other interesting sites in Central Annam produced White-winged Magpie, ‘Annam Sultan Tit’ (the black-crested form), Limestone Leaf Warbler, Sooty Babbler, Short-tailed Scimitar (or Indochinese Wren-) Babbler, and Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush. Further north, at Cuc Phuong and Tam Dao National Park’s in East Tonkin, we added Malayan Night Heron, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Pied Falconet, Limestone Wren-Babbler, Grey Laughingthrush, and Short-tailed Parrotbill. As if that were not enough, we extended the tour to the Hoang Lien Son Mountains in northern West Tonkin, and lofty Fansipan. Here we enjoyed Pale-throated and Bar-winged Wren-Babblers, and ‘Tonkin Fulvetta’ (a local form currently lumped in White-browed), amongst a wide-range of mouth-watering Sino-Himalayan species, such as Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler.

It was also a great tour for mammals. We were lucky enough to find a Grey-shanked Douc Langur, thought to be reduced to as few as 550-700 individuals, and we also enjoyed Black-shanked Douc Langur, Red (or Buff-) cheeked Gibbon, Delacour’s and Hatinh Langurs, Malayan Porcupine, and Sunda Pangolin.

Germain's Peacock Pheasant - during the tour we got stunning views of many often very hard to see species, thanks to the expertise of our excellent local helpers (Craig Robson)

Germain's Peacock Pheasant - during the tour we got stunning views of many often very hard to see species, thanks to the expertise of our excellent local helpers (Craig Robson)