Trip report: Vietnam (South, Central, & North) February 2020 by Tropical Birding

Guided by Ken Behrens. This was a custom tour.

Vietnam is one of Asia’s biologically richest countries. Unfortunately, it’s also famous as a place that is over-hunted and over-trapped, and heavily populated, making the wildlife viewing quite difficult. A couple things have recently improved this situation. One is the creation of several bird feeding and watering stations with blinds, which allows intimate views and good photography of the normally shy birds. Another is improved protection of some rare primate species, including the involvement of local communities. While Vietnam remains an often-challenging country for wildlife viewing, it’s better now than it has been in a long time, and there is hope that things will improve further in the future. This tour’s itinerary was built around two things: places with good bird blind setups, and places with rare primates. Some more typical birding filled in the cracks between these two things. It proved a very enjoyable trip, and featured a boggling number of high-quality wildlife sightings. Vietnam can be a frustrating place for hardcore birder who wants to “clean up” on localized endemics and other species, but a very enjoyable place for a slower-paced “birding with a camera” approach. The accommodations are comfortable, especially in the south, and good food can be found everywhere, from fresh stir-fries to tasty Bánh mì sandwiches and steaming bowls of fragrant Phở.

We were very successful in seeing rare primates, scoring great views of all three of the wonderful Douc Langurs, plus Hatinh and Delacour’s Langurs, and Buff-cheeked Gibbon. Our time in various hides was delightful. Just a few of the best sightings included Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, an amazing FOUR species of pittas (Bar-bellied, Blue-rumped, Rusty-naped, and Blue), Black-crowned Fulvetta, Short-tailed Scimitar-Babbler, Siberian Thrush, “Tonkin” Scaly-breasted Partridge, and Spotted Forktail. Away from hides, we did some general birding, and added species including Himalayan Cutia, Black-and-buff, Heart-spotted, and Great Slaty Woodpeckers, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Sooty Babbler, and Limestone Wren-Babbler. 

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format (8.9MB).