Southern and Central Vietnam: Endemics and Specials Set Departure Trip Report, March 2023


14 – 28 March 2023

By Andrew Walker

Bar-bellied Pitta gave some great views early in the tour, what a stunning bird!


This exciting Vietnam birding tour covered the southern and central part of the country and resulted in loads of great birds and some excellent photographic opportunities. The tour started in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on the 14th of March 2023 and ended back there on the 28th of March 2023. We visited some of the top birding destinations in Vietnam, such as Cat Tien National Park, Da Lat, Nui San Pass, Mang Den, and Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve. The full itinerary including a map can be found here.

We recorded 277 bird species (14 heard only) during the tour, the trip list follows the report. The tour highlights included a long list of endemic, near-endemic, and special birds. Some of the non-passerine highlights included Orange-necked Partridge, Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Green Peafowl, Siamese Fireback, Great Eared Nightjar, Collared Owlet, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Banded Kingfisher, Red-vented Barbet, Indochinese Barbet, Necklaced Barbet, Black-and-buff Woodpecker, White-bellied Woodpecker, and Collared Falconet.

Vietnam birding report

The rarely seen Orange-necked Partridge gave some fantastic views.

Some of the passerine highlights enjoyed on the tour included Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, Rusty-naped Pitta, Blue Pitta, Black-and-red Broadbill, Banded Broadbill, Long-tailed Broadbill, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Indochinese Green Magpie, Grey-crowned Crocias, Vietnamese Cutia, White-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babbler, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, Large Scimitar Babbler, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler, Scaly-crowned (Indochinese) Babbler, Golden-winged Laughingthrush, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-headed Sibia, Black-headed Parrotbill, (Annam) Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Indochinese Fulvetta, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Green-backed (Langbian) Tit, Black-throated (Grey-crowned) Bushtit, Lesser (Langbian) Shortwing, Mrs. Gould’s (Annam) Sunbird, Black-throated (Langbian) Sunbird, Vietnamese Greenfinch, and Red (Dalat) Crossbill.

Vietnam birding report

We enjoyed fantastic views of the shy and secretive Indochinese Green Magpie during the tour.

Vietnam birding report

The rare Vietnamese endemic Golden-winged Laughingthrush was a tour highlight.

Detailed Report

Day 1, 14th March 2023. Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The group arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, and we met our excellent local guide, Phuc, for a welcome dinner in the evening and discussed the plans for the next few weeks of exciting birding in southern and central Vietnam.

Day 2, 15th March 2023. Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien National Park

An early departure from Ho Chi Minh City saw us reach Tan Phu Forest Enterprise, where we made our way to a bird blind (bird hide) for the morning. We didn’t have to wait long for bird activity to get going, the clear highlight was a pair of Bar-bellied Pittas that gave a great showing eventually, and the wonderful supporting cast included Siamese Fireback, Laced Woodpecker, Grey-headed (Black-naped) Woodpecker, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Scaly-crowned (Indochinese) Babbler, Abbott’s Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Indochinese Blue Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, and Ochraceous Bulbul.

After lunch we visited another blind/hide with a different set of birds. We were again richly rewarded, with great views of the tough Orange-necked Partridge and a pair of Blue-rumped Pittas. The area was very busy, and we enjoyed prolonged views of White-throated Rock Thrush, Buff-breasted Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Greater Coucal, and several of the species also seen in the morning. After our afternoon birding session, we completed our journey to Cat Tien National Park. We arrived just as the sun was setting and checked into our accommodation within the national park.

Vietnam birding report

A pair of Blue-rumped Pittas gave prolonged views.

Day 3, 16th March 2023. Birding Cat Tien National Park

We had a wonderful day birding in Cat Tien National Park. After spending the previous day sat in blinds for most of the day, today we walked around and found loads of great birds. As we ate breakfast, we heard Asian Barred Owlet and Great Eared Nightjar and as the sun rose, we picked up Black-crowned Night Heron, Asian Palm Swift, Oriental Magpie-Robin, and Racket-tailed Treepie. A real highlight here was hearing and seeing Red-cheeked (Yellow-cheeked) Gibbons, such an impressive sound and sight!

Starting out along a park road we quickly found Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Oriental Dollarbird, Green-eared Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, and Silver-backed Needletail. The birds were coming thick and fast with species moving along the river or deeper into the forest and scrub. Both Common Hill Myna and Golden-crested Myna and both Black-naped Oriole and Black-hooded Oriole were vocal and showed as they moved about, with Red-breasted Parakeet, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Common Flameback, Laced Woodpecker, and White-bellied Woodpecker also present. A group of six Black-and-red Broadbills provided a highlight when they eventually showed well, as did a male Banded Kingfisher and the attractive Blue-bearded Bee-eater.

Vietnam birding report

We had a good showing from two groups of Black-and-red Broadbills during our morning birding session in Cat Tien National Park. Seeing ten birds in a morning was quite impressive.

A mixed flock moved through the area we were watching and it hung around for a while, allowing us to catch up with most birds well. The flock contained the near-endemic Grey-faced Tit-Babbler, as well as Scarlet Minivet, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Bronzed Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Black-crested Bulbul, Great Iora, Two-barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Blue-winged Leafbird, Golden-fronted Leafbird, and Asian Fairy-bluebird. We spent the middle of the day sitting out the heat of the day, but just before that we found another flock of four Black-and-red Broadbills, a great way to end the morning birding session.

We spent the afternoon driving through an area of grassland savannah habitat and found several new species, the best of which was probably Green Peafowl, an absolutely stunning bird, though they were quite shy. We also found plenty of other birds to keep us occupied while searching for the peafowl, including Chinese Francolin, Red Junglefowl, Red Collared Dove, Indochinese Roller, Vinous-breasted Starling, Indian Cuckoo, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Brown Shrike, Pied Bush Chat, and Great Eared Nightjar.

Vietnam birding report

Green Peafowl can reach a length of around 8.2 feet (2.5 meters), seriously impressive!

Day 4, 17th March 2023. Birding Cat Tien National Park

We spent the morning birding near the national park headquarters and found lots of birds again. A fruiting tree pulled in Black-crested Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Black-hooded Oriole, Oriental Pied Hornbill, and Golden-crested Myna. A small group of Eurasian Hoopoes were flying around, as were White-bellied Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Laced Woodpecker, Common Flameback, and Black-and-buff Woodpecker. Other birds noted around the park headquarters included Taiga Flycatcher, Scarlet Minivet, Large Woodshrike, Great Iora, Olive-backed Sunbird, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Violet Cuckoo, and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo.

We settled into a bird blind (bird hide) for a couple of hours and found several species, including our top target, the near-endemic Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant. A pair of birds walked in to view and fed for a while, the spectacular male even displaying to the female. A few other birds showed well too, like Green-legged Partridge, Greater Coucal, Puff-throated Babbler, White-rumped Shama, Oriental Magpie-Robin, and Siberian Blue Robin.

We spent the morning birding near the national park headquarters and found lots of birds again. A fruiting tree pulled in Black-crested Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Black-hooded Oriole, Oriental Pied Hornbill, and Golden-crested Myna. A small group of Eurasian Hoopoes were flying around, as were White-bellied Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Laced Woodpecker, Common Flameback, and Black-and-buff Woodpecker. Other birds noted around the park headquarters included Taiga Flycatcher, Scarlet Minivet, Large Woodshrike, Great Iora, Olive-backed Sunbird, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Violet Cuckoo, and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo.

We settled into a bird blind (bird hide) for a couple of hours and found several species, including our top target, the near-endemic Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant. A pair of birds walked in to view and fed for a while, the spectacular male even displaying to the female. A few other birds showed well too, like Green-legged Partridge, Greater Coucal, Puff-throated Babbler, White-rumped Shama, Oriental Magpie-Robin, and Siberian Blue Robin.

Vietnam birding report

This rather impressive male Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant put on a great display for the female, and we enjoyed watching it too! Yet another early “bird of the trip” contender.

In the afternoon we took a walk in some nearby forest. It had been a very hot day, but as the temperature dropped slightly, we found several interesting birds, such as Lesser Yellownape, Black-and-buff Woodpecker, Collared Falconet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Little Spiderhunter, and Ruby-cheeked Sunbird. At dusk we saw both Great Eared Nightjar and Large-tailed Nightjar.

Day 5, 18th March 2023. Cat Tien National Park to Da Lat

For our final birding session in Cat Tien National Park, we headed out east of the headquarters to explore a different area. As soon as we got out of the vehicle we were greeted by the sight of the shy Black-shanked Douc Langur swinging through the trees. A fruiting tree here was attracting Ashy-headed Green Pigeon, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Asian Fairy-bluebird, and several bulbul species. Both Siamese Fireback and Red Junglefowl were feeding on the edge of the track and, after a bit of cat-and-mouse, we got some fairly good views of a pair of Banded Broadbills, but the Orange-breasted Trogon that was calling remained deep in the forest and the Oriental Pied Hornbills didn’t hang around long enough for everyone to see perched.

As we made our way further along the track, a few woodpeckers made an appearance, and included the impressive White-bellied Woodpecker, along with Pale-headed Woodpecker, Common Flameback, Laced Woodpecker, Lesser Yellownape, and the miniscule White-browed Piculet. During the morning we also picked up a couple of mixed flocks and within them found Black-and-red Broadbill, Grey-faced Tit-Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Yellow-browed Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Great Iora, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Crimson Sunbird, Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter, and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, amongst others.

In the afternoon we left Cat Tien National Park behind us and drove east to the mountains of Da Lat, once the mountain playground of the French as an escape from heat of the lowlands. We arrived in the late afternoon and checked into our new accommodation for the next three nights.

Day 6, 19th March 2023. Birding Da Lat Plateau

We spent most of the day in two bird blinds (bird hides) and racked up a long list of high-quality birds. As soon as we entered the first blind the action got going. The near-endemic White-cheeked Laughingthrush was straight in, along with the local subspecies of Black-headed (White-spectacled) Sibia. It was difficult to know where to look first with raucous laughingthrushes bouncing all around, and with Mountain Fulvettas and Grey-throated Babblers also present in numbers. As we settled in and got familiar with these species, we started seeing other birds too, such as Large Niltava, White-tailed Robin, Siberian Blue Robin, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Grey-bellied Tesia, and Lesser (Langbian) Shortwing. There was a bit of extra excitement when a chunky Rusty-naped Pitta came bounding in to view and fed for a while!

Vietnam birding report

White-cheeked Laughingthrushes gave a great showing early in the morning.

Our time in the first blind flew by and we reluctantly left for a different one a short distance away. This one took some maneuvering to get into up a steep slope, but once settled we were again treated to more great views of tough birds, such as Streaked (Annam) Wren-Babbler, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Lesser (Langbian) Shortwing, and others. A Large Hawk-Cuckoo even put in a brief appearance, as did Grey-cheeked Warbler and Rufous-capped Babbler.

Vietnam birding report

The tiny, golf-ball-sized, and secretive Grey-bellied Tesia gave astounding views out in the open.

Vietnam birding report

Rusty-naped Pitta came out of the dark forest and delighted us with a good view.

After lunch we went back into the first blind/hide and spent some more time there. It was interesting seeing the difference from the morning session, the fulvettas and babblers were still present, but there were no laughingthrushes at all. Two new species came in very quickly and showed well, firstly Dark-sided Thrush, and secondly, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, two usually very secretive birds. We also enjoyed a pair of Rusty-naped Pittas visiting the blind.

After our time in the blind/hide, we decided to take a walk along a track near the road, where we found even more new species, some of the highlights here included Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Necklaced Barbet, Large Cuckooshrike, Mountain Bulbul, Flavescent Bulbul, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Green-backed (Langbian) Tit, Siberian Thrush, Mountain Tailorbird, Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, and Red (Dalat) Crossbill. It had been a long day, but the birds we saw certainly made it worthwhile.

Day 7, 20th March 2023. Birding Da Lat Plateau

We spent the early part of the morning birding the Ta Nung Valley, where we kicked things off with sightings of Flavescent Bulbul, Hill Prinia, and Burmese Shrike. As we started walking, we found a small flock of Vietnamese Greenfinches, White-throated Rock Thrush (a male this time) and Eurasian (White-faced) Jay. A fruiting tree was busy with birds, including Indochinese Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, Black Bulbul, Ashy (Brown-backed) Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and Asian Fairy-bluebird. An area of thicker vegetation gave us our main target for the morning, the rare endemic Grey-crowned Crocias, which showed well.

A group of flowering trees held Streaked Spiderhunter, Mrs. Gould’s (Annam) Sunbird, Black-throated (Langbian) Sunbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, and Hainan Blue Flycatcher.

Vietnam birding report

The rare endemic and Endangered (BirdLife International) Grey-crowned Crocias gave some good views feeding on the edge of the canopy early in the morning.

Later in the morning we visited the Datanla Waterfall area, where we found more new species, such as Banded Bay Cuckoo, Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Long-tailed Minivet, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, White-browed Shrike-babbler (this subspecies until very recently a full species called Dalat Shrike-babbler), Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, Indian White-eye, Blue-winged (Plain) Minla, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Little Pied Flycatcher, and Red (Dalat) Crossbill.

During the afternoon we visited a forested area near a lake not far out of town. The birding was tough as it had clouded over with some rumbling thunder, and the light levels were very low. We walked a track and managed to find a few good species, such as Red-vented Barbet, Long-tailed Broadbill, and Indochinese Green Magpie, unfortunately the latter two species didn’t stick around for everyone to see well, so we would have to hope for better views later in the tour. Vietnamese Cutia and Black-hooded Laughingthrush were heard only, again we’d have to hope for views later in the tour. Mugimaki Flycatcher, White-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babbler, Black Bulbul, Green-backed (Langbian) Tit, and Chestnut-vented Nuthatch all showed well.

Vietnam birding report

The local form of Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird (known in this area of Vietnam as Annam Sunbird) is rather attractive!  

Day 8, 21st March 2023. Da Lat Plateau to Di Linh (birding Nui Sun Pass)

Our final birding session in Da Lat saw us up in the mountains, birding from roads aiming to pick up mixed flocks. This tactic proved very successful, and we found our main target, Vietnamese Cutia in two such flocks. This wasn’t the only highlight though, as we also found Black-headed Parrotbill, Black-throated (Grey-crowned) Bushtit, Maroon Oriole, and Collared Owlet using this method. Additional species seen in the mixed flocks included Large Cuckooshrike, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Red (Dalat) Crossbill, White-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babbler, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Green-backed (Langbian) Tit, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Grey-chinned Minivet, and Long-tailed Minivet. We had a very low flyover by a Grey-faced Buzzard and also noted both Siberian House Martin and Asian House Martin overhead.   

After a final lunch in Da Lat, we left the city and transferred towards Di Linh, our base for the next two nights. Along the way however, we stopped for some birding from a bird blind (bird hide) where we found some incredible birds. Top the list of jaw-dropping birds was the pair of Indochinese Green Magpies that came in and showed extremely well (see photo in summary section of this report), what a special bird. Other highlights included Silver-breasted Broadbill, Black-headed Parrotbill, Black-chinned Yuhina, White-bellied Erpornis, Grey-faced Tit-Babbler, Orange-headed Thrush (two subspecies), White-throated Rock Thrush, Alström’s Warbler, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, Blue-and-white Flycatcher, and Mugimaki Flycatcher. This was a great blind session with constant activity keeping us on our toes throughout.

Day 9, 22nd March 2023. Di Linh (birding Nui Sun Pass)

We visited a bird blind (bird hide) in the morning with one target in mind, Blue Pitta. After a while we glimpsed a female and male skirting around the back of our viewing area a couple of times, but they didn’t show well, or for everyone, it was rather frustrating. We decided to stick it out a bit longer and were handsomely rewarded when the pristine male, which had been rather shy up until this point, hopped right out in the open giving close and open views for what seemed like an age! What an incredible bird, our fourth and final pitta species seen on the tour. 

Vietnam birding report

This male Blue Pitta teased us by giving fleeting glimpses for a couple of hours before eventually popping right out into the open giving us those much-hoped-for views.

As much as the pitta was the clear highlight of the morning, we also had Large Scimitar Babbler, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, and White-browed Scimitar Babbler visit the blind, three usually secretive species that showed well feeding and bathing. An Orange-breasted Trogon made a couple of brief appearances too, and the rest of the supporting cast included Orange-headed Thrush, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, and White-throated Rock Thrush.

In the afternoon we called in to some rice paddies, finding Chinese Pond Heron (a couple in breeding plumage), Little Egret, Coppersmith Barbet, Black-collared Starling, Great Myna, Vinous-breasted Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Ashy Woodswallow, and Black-winged Kite. After this stop we went back to the forest, where some roadside birding gave us great views of a couple of Long-tailed Broadbills – a crazy looking bird! We also saw Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Yellow-vented Green Pigeon, Indochinese Barbet, and Black-chinned Yuhina.

Day 10, 23rd March 2023. Di Linh to Ho Chi Minh City, flight to Pleiku, and on to Mang Den

A travel day as we made our way into central Vietnam. We left Di Linh after breakfast, took the long drive back to Ho Chi Minh City, where we boarded a short flight to Pleiku. From Pleiku we drove to Mang Den, arriving at our base for the next couple of nights in the early evening.

Day 11, 24th March 2023. Birding Mang Den

We spent the morning birding session along forested roads in the Mang Den area, although there was a depressing amount of deforestation to deal with. We did however find a few new birds or improved views of several species we’d seen before. Some of the better birds of the morning included Rufous-faced Warbler, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Black-chinned Yuhina, Short-billed Minivet, Grey-chinned Minivet, Black-throated (Grey-crowned) Bushtit, Crested Goshawk, Crested Serpent Eagle, and Black Bulbul (both black-headed and white-headed subspecies). A White-winged Magpie teased us with a very brief view but wouldn’t give us anything more! One of the most interesting non-avian finds involved a sighting of the rare Sokolov’s Glass Lizard, a strange thing that looked a bit like a skink and a bit like a snake, it even hung around long enough for us to get some photos to clinch the identification, this species has a tiny known global range!    

We’d planned to go to a bird blind (bird hide) for the afternoon, however on arrival at our location it was clear a thunderstorm was approaching and a short while later it hit us. We sat it out in our vehicle for a while, but it was obvious it wasn’t improving so we decided to drop down off the mountain and call it a day. A small section of rice paddies held Little Egret, Eastern Cattle Egret, and Chinese Pond Heron, as well as both Long-tailed Shrike and Brown Shrike. After our dinner and checklist session a few of the group had a Grey Nightjar fly over the hotel.

Day 12, 25th March 2023. Birding Mang Den and travel to Tu Mo Rong

After the rain of the previous afternoon, we were relieved to wake to a dry morning. We headed straight back up the mountain to our spot from the previous day and built a quick bird blind (bird hide) in a promising-looking area of forest. We were expecting a bit of a wait and were ready for the long haul, so when a pair of Chestnut-eared Laughingthrushes, our main target bird, hopped into view after only two minutes we were all rather elated! As we’d gone to the effort of building a blind/hide, we decided to give it another 30 minutes or so to see what would happen. We had a few more sightings of the laughingthrushes, in fact there were three birds, and a pair of Mountain Fulvettas came in too.

Vietnam birding report

The main reason for our visit to Mang Den was to see Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush. This Vietnam near-endemic is listed as Vulnerable (BirdLife International) because it is known from one site, is likely to have a very small global range, and is susceptible to a range of threats, such as rampant deforestation and the illegal cage bird trade. Worrying times for this species!

Satisfied with our laughingthrushes we covered some of the same ground as the previous morning and found a few mixed flocks and several new trip birds such as Clicking Shrike-babbler, Golden Babbler, and Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler. In addition, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Maroon Oriole, Short-billed Minivet, Black-chinned Yuhina, White-bellied Erpornis, and Kloss’s Leaf Warbler all put in appearances too.

In the afternoon we travelled to our base for the next two nights at Tu Mo Rong near Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, and prepared for what we hoped would be an exciting day of Vietnamese birding.

Day 13, 26th March 2023. Birding Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve

We had an enjoyable morning at Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, seeing some very special birds. On arrival at the nature reserve we hiked up into the mountains through some beautiful forest for an hour or so, until we reached our bird blind (bird hide). We waited patiently for our two main target birds to come in, and it was an enjoyable wait with several new species seen, including Indochinese Fulvetta, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Rusty-capped Fulvetta, Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler, Black-headed (Brownish-backed) Sibia, Large Niltava, Fujian Niltava, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, and Snowy-browed Flycatcher. Our first major target bird came in quite quickly, and what an absolute belter – Red-tailed Laughingthrush. A single individual came in and spent quite a while on show for us, just incredible.

Vietnam birding report

The magnificent Red-tailed Laughingthrush put on quite the show for us.

Vietnam birding report

We found the rarely seen hoae subspecies of Vietnamese Cutia in Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve.

We had to wait a bit longer for our main target, but eventually in it came, the rare endemic Golden-winged Laughingthrush, an Endangered (BirdLife International) species found only at three sites in the whole world (see photo in trip summary above). This species was only described in 1999 and is threatened by habitat loss and illegal trapping, so we were extremely happy to see it. 

After our session in the blind/hide, we took the walk back down off the mountain, and while doing so found a few interesting birds, such as Black-crowned Barwing, Vietnamese Cutia, White-browed (formerly, until recently, Blyth’s) Shrike-babbler, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Grey-cheeked Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, and Green-tailed Sunbird. In the mid-afternoon we headed back to our accommodation and took some rest.

Day 14, 27th March 2023. Tu Mo Rong to Da Nang and mammal watching on the Son Tra Peninsula

Essentially a travel day as we made the long drive from Tu Mo Rong to Da Nang through some special landscapes. A few stops along the way gave us some new birds for the tour, such as Yellow-cheeked Tit, Pygmy Flycatcher, White-throated Needletail, Blue Rock Thrush, White-rumped Munia, White (Siberian) Wagtail, Wire-tailed Swallow, and Striated Swallow.

After checking into our hotel for the final night of the tour we visited the Son Tra Nature Reserve, where, despite the low cloud, wind, and drizzle, we found our target, the simply incredible Red-shanked Douc Langur. As far as monkeys go, this one is very special, not only is it beautiful, but it is also Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List).

Vietnam birding report

We saw two family groups of the unique Red-shanked Douc Langur in Son Tra Nature Reserve, a really nice way to end our tour through central and southern Vietnam. Full mammal and reptile species lists for the tour are given at the end of the report.

Day 15, 28th March 2023. Bird and mammal watching on Son Tra Peninsula, flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City, where tour concluded

We had a final morning birding and mammal watching at Son Tra Peninsula before we flew back to Ho Chin Minh City, where this exciting Vietnam birding tour concluded. We again enjoyed excellent views of a family group of Red-shanked Douc Langurs. Our final new bird of the tour was a Peregrine Falcon that was mobbing a Crested Honey Buzzard, an exciting observation. We also saw White-crested Laughingthrush, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Racket-tailed Treepie, Olive-backed Sunbird, and Crimson Sunbird.

After breakfast we discussed the coveted “bird of the trip”, and it was no easy task with high-quality birds day after day on this tour. However, one bird stood out from the crowd, just, and that was the displaying Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, a great choice. Other notable mentions went to all of the pittas, broadbills, kingfishers, and laughingthrushes we had seen.

We took our flights from Da Nang back to Ho Chi Minh City and the tour concluded. A huge thank you to our local guide, Phuc, for helping to make this a wonderful tour, and to our drivers for safe travels. Thank you to everyone for making this such an enjoyable Vietnamese birding tour.

Bird ListFollowing IOC (13.1)

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen. The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common NameScientific Name
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Orange-necked PartridgeArborophila davidi
Siamese FirebackLophura diardi
Green Peafowl – ENPavo muticus
Green-legged PartridgeTropicoperdix chloropus
Germain’s Peacock-PheasantPolyplectron germaini
Red JunglefowlGallus gallus
Chinese FrancolinFrancolinus pintadeanus
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Great Eared NightjarLyncornis macrotis
Grey Nightjar (H)Caprimulgus jotaka
Large-tailed NightjarCaprimulgus macrurus
Swifts (Apodidae)
Himalayan SwiftletAerodramus brevirostris
Germain’s SwiftletAerodramus germani
White-throated NeedletailHirundapus caudacutus
Silver-backed NeedletailHirundapus cochinchinensis
Brown-backed NeedletailHirundapus giganteus
Asian Palm SwiftCypsiurus balasiensis
Pacific SwiftApus pacificus
House SwiftApus nipalensis
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Greater CoucalCentropus sinensis
Lesser CoucalCentropus bengalensis
Green-billed MalkohaPhaenicophaeus tristis
Chestnut-winged CuckooClamator coromandus
Asian KoelEudynamys scolopaceus
Violet CuckooChrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Banded Bay CuckooCacomantis sonneratii
Plaintive CuckooCacomantis merulinus
Square-tailed Drongo-CuckooSurniculus lugubris
Large Hawk-CuckooHierococcyx sparverioides
Indian CuckooCuculus micropterus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon)Columba livia dom.
Red Collared DoveStreptopelia tranquebarica
Spotted DoveSpilopelia chinensis
Barred Cuckoo-DoveMacropygia unchall
Common Emerald DoveChalcophaps indica
Zebra DoveGeopelia striata
Ashy-headed Green PigeonTreron phayrei
Thick-billed Green PigeonTreron curvirostra
Pin-tailed Green PigeonTreron apicauda
Yellow-vented Green PigeonTreron seimundi
Green Imperial PigeonDucula aenea
Mountain Imperial PigeonDucula badia
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Red-wattled LapwingVanellus indicus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucos
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Little CormorantMicrocarbo niger
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Black-crowned Night HeronNycticorax nycticorax
Chinese Pond HeronArdeola bacchus
Eastern Cattle EgretBubulcus coromandus
Great EgretArdea alba
Little EgretEgretta garzetta
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-winged KiteElanus caeruleus
Crested Honey BuzzardPernis ptilorhynchus
Jerdon’s BazaAviceda jerdoni
Crested Serpent EagleSpilornis cheela
Black EagleIctinaetus malaiensis
Crested GoshawkAccipiter trivirgatus
ShikraAccipiter badius
Grey-faced BuzzardButastur indicus
Owls (Strigidae)
Collared OwletTaenioptynx brodiei
Asian Barred Owlet (H)Glaucidium cuculoides
Collared Scops Owl (H)Otus lettia
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Orange-breasted TrogonHarpactes oreskios
Red-headed Trogon (H)Harpactes erythrocephalus
Hoopoes (Upupidae)
Eurasian HoopoeUpupa epops
Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
Oriental Pied HornbillAnthracoceros albirostris
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Indochinese RollerCoracias affinis
Oriental DollarbirdEurystomus orientalis
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Banded KingfisherLacedo pulchella
White-throated KingfisherHalcyon smyrnensis
Pied KingfisherCeryle rudis
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Blue-bearded Bee-eaterNyctyornis athertoni
Chestnut-headed Bee-eaterMerops leschenaulti
Asian Barbets (Megalaimidae)
Red-vented BarbetPsilopogon lagrandieri
Lineated BarbetPsilopogon lineatus
Green-eared BarbetPsilopogon faiostrictus
Necklaced BarbetPsilopogon auricularis
Indochinese BarbetPsilopogon annamensis
Blue-eared BarbetPsilopogon duvaucelii
Coppersmith BarbetPsilopogon haemacephalus
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
White-browed PiculetSasia ochracea
Grey-capped Pygmy WoodpeckerYungipicus canicapillus
Stripe-breasted Woodpecker (H)Dendrocopos atratus
White-bellied WoodpeckerDryocopus javensis
Lesser YellownapePicus chlorolophus
Laced WoodpeckerPicus vittatus
Grey-headed WoodpeckerPicus canus
Common FlamebackDinopium javanense
Greater Flameback (H)Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus
Pale-headed Woodpecker (H)Gecinulus grantia
Bay Woodpecker (H)Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Black-and-buff WoodpeckerMeiglyptes jugularis
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Collared FalconetMicrohierax caerulescens
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Red-breasted ParakeetPsittacula alexandri
Vernal Hanging ParrotLoriculus vernalis
Typical Broadbills (Eurylaimidae)
Long-tailed BroadbillPsarisomus dalhousiae
Silver-breasted BroadbillSerilophus lunatus
Black-and-red BroadbillCymbirhynchus macrorhynchos
Banded BroadbillEurylaimus javanicus
Pittas (Pittidae)
Rusty-naped PittaHydrornis oatesi
Blue-rumped PittaHydrornis soror
Blue PittaHydrornis cyaneus
Bar-bellied PittaHydrornis elliotii
Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikeHemipus picatus
Large WoodshrikeTephrodornis virgatus
Woodswallows, Butcherbirds & Allies (Artamidae)
Ashy WoodswallowArtamus fuscus
Ioras (Aegithinidae)
Common IoraAegithina tiphia
Great IoraAegithina lafresnayei
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Grey-chinned MinivetPericrocotus solaris
Short-billed MinivetPericrocotus brevirostris
Long-tailed MinivetPericrocotus ethologus
Scarlet MinivetPericrocotus speciosus
Swinhoe’s MinivetPericrocotus cantonensis
Large CuckooshrikeCoracina macei
Indochinese CuckooshrikeLalage polioptera
Shrikes (Laniidae)
Brown ShrikeLanius cristatus
Burmese ShrikeLanius collurioides
Long-tailed ShrikeLanius schach
Vireos, Greenlets, Shrike-babblers (Vireonidae)
White-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babblerPteruthius aeralatus annamensis
White-browed (Blyth’s) Shrike-babblerPteruthius aeralatus aeralatus
Clicking Shrike-babblerPteruthius intermedius
White-bellied ErpornisErpornis zantholeuca
Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)
Maroon OrioleOriolus traillii
Black-hooded OrioleOriolus xanthornus
Black-naped OrioleOriolus chinensis
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Bronzed DrongoDicrurus aeneus
Lesser Racket-tailed DrongoDicrurus remifer
Greater Racket-tailed DrongoDicrurus paradiseus
Hair-crested DrongoDicrurus hottentottus
Ashy DrongoDicrurus leucophaeus
Black DrongoDicrurus macrocercus
Fantails (Rhipiduridae)
White-throated FantailRhipidura albicollis
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
Black-naped MonarchHypothymis azurea
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Eurasian JayGarrulus glandarius
White-winged MagpieUrocissa whiteheadi
Indochinese Green MagpieCissa hypoleuca
Racket-tailed TreepieCrypsirina temia
Large-billed CrowCorvus macrorhynchos
Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcherCulicicapa ceylonensis
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)
Green-backed TitParus monticolus
Yellow-cheeked TitMachlolophus spilonotus
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
Ochraceous BulbulAlophoixus ochraceus
Grey-eyed BulbulIole propinqua
Ashy BulbulHemixos flavala
Mountain BulbulIxos mcclellandii
Black BulbulHypsipetes leucocephalus
Black-headed BulbulBrachypodius melanocephalos
Black-crested BulbulRubigula flaviventris
Streak-eared BulbulPycnonotus conradi
Stripe-throated BulbulPycnonotus finlaysoni
Flavescent BulbulPycnonotus flavescens
Red-whiskered BulbulPycnonotus jocosus
Sooty-headed BulbulPycnonotus aurigaster
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Dusky Crag MartinPtyonoprogne concolor
Wire-tailed SwallowHirundo smithii
Barn SwallowHirundo rustica
Siberian House MartinDelichon lagopodum
Asian House MartinDelichon dasypus
Red-rumped SwallowCecropis daurica
Striated SwallowCecropis striolata
Cupwings (Pnoepygidae)
Pygmy Cupwing (H)Pnoepyga pusilla
Cettia Bush Warblers & Allies (Cettiidae)
Rufous-faced WarblerAbroscopus albogularis
Mountain TailorbirdPhyllergates cucullatus
Grey-bellied TesiaTesia cyaniventer
Bushtits (Aegithalidae)
Black-throated BushtitAegithalos concinnus
Leaf Warblers (Phylloscopidae)
Yellow-browed WarblerPhylloscopus inornatus
White-spectacled Warbler (H)Phylloscopus intermedius
Grey-cheeked WarblerPhylloscopus poliogenys
Alström’s WarblerPhylloscopus soror
Two-barred WarblerPhylloscopus plumbeitarsus
Pale-legged Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus tenellipes
Arctic WarblerPhylloscopus borealis
Chestnut-crowned WarblerPhylloscopus castaniceps
Blyth’s Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus reguloides
Kloss’s Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus ogilviegranti
Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)
Dalat Bush Warbler (H)Locustella idonea
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Hill PriniaPrinia superciliaris
Yellow-bellied Prinia (H)Prinia flaviventris
Plain PriniaPrinia inornata
Common TailorbirdOrthotomus sutorius
Dark-necked TailorbirdOrthotomus atrogularis
Parrotbills & Allies (Paradoxornithidae)
Golden-breasted FulvettaLioparus chrysotis
Indochinese FulvettaFulvetta danisi
Black-headed Parrotbill – VUPsittiparus margaritae
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Black-chinned YuhinaYuhina nigrimenta
Indian White-eyeZosterops palpebrosus
Babblers, Scimitar Babblers (Timaliidae)
Chestnut-capped BabblerTimalia pileata
Grey-faced Tit-BabblerMixornis kelleyi
Pin-striped Tit-BabblerMixornis gularis
Golden BabblerCyanoderma chrysaeum
Rufous-capped BabblerCyanoderma ruficeps
Brown-crowned Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus phayrei
Red-billed Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus ochraceiceps
White-browed Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus schisticeps
Large Scimitar BabblerErythrogenys hypoleucos
Grey-throated BabblerStachyris nigriceps
Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)
Scaly-crowned BabblerMalacopteron cinereum
Rufous-winged FulvettaSchoeniparus castaneceps
Rusty-capped FulvettaSchoeniparus dubius
Puff-throated BabblerPellorneum ruficeps
Buff-breasted BabblerPellorneum tickelli
Abbott’s BabblerMalacocincla abbotti
Streaked Wren-BabblerGypsophila brevicaudata
Short-tailed Scimitar BabblerNapothera danjoui
Alcippe Fulvettas (Alcippeidae)
Mountain FulvettaAlcippe peracensis
Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)
Vietnamese CutiaCutia legalleni
Grey-crowned Crocias – ENLaniellus langbianis
Red-tailed LaughingthrushTrochalopteron milnei
Golden-winged Laughingthrush – ENTrochalopteron ngoclinhense
Black-headed SibiaHeterophasia desgodinsi
Blue-winged MinlaActinodura cyanouroptera
Black-crowned BarwingActinodura sodangorum
Silver-eared Mesia – EN (H)Leiothrix argentauris
White-crested LaughingthrushGarrulax leucolophus
Black-hooded Laughingthrush (H)Garrulax milleti
Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush – VUIanthocincla konkakinhensis
White-cheeked LaughingthrushPterorhinus vassali
Fairy-bluebirds (Irenidae)
Asian Fairy-bluebirdIrena puella
Nuthatches (Sittidae)
Velvet-fronted NuthatchSitta frontalis
Yellow-billed NuthatchSitta solangiae
Chestnut-vented NuthatchSitta nagaensis
Starlings, Rhabdornises (Sturnidae)
Golden-crested MynaAmpeliceps coronatus
Common Hill MynaGracula religiosa
Great MynaAcridotheres grandis
Common MynaAcridotheres tristis
Vinous-breasted MynaAcridotheres leucocephalus
Black-collared StarlingGracupica nigricollis
Chestnut-tailed StarlingSturnia malabarica
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Dark-sided ThrushZoothera marginata
Siberian ThrushGeokichla sibirica
Orange-headed ThrushGeokichla citrina
Eyebrowed ThrushTurdus obscurus
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
Oriental Magpie-RobinCopsychus saularis
White-rumped ShamaCopsychus malabaricus
Asian Brown FlycatcherMuscicapa dauurica
Rufous-browed FlycatcherAnthipes solitaris
Hainan Blue FlycatcherCyornis hainanus
Pale Blue FlycatcherCyornis unicolor
Indochinese Blue FlycatcherCyornis sumatrensis
Fujian NiltavaNiltava davidi
Large NiltavaNiltava grandis
Blue-and-white FlycatcherCyanoptila cyanomelana
Verditer FlycatcherEumyias thalassinus
Lesser ShortwingBrachypteryx leucophris
Siberian Blue RobinLarvivora cyane
White-tailed RobinMyiomela leucura
Mugimaki FlycatcherFicedula mugimaki
Pygmy FlycatcherFicedula hodgsoni
Rufous-gorgeted FlycatcherFicedula strophiata
Little Pied FlycatcherFicedula westermanni
Snowy-browed FlycatcherFicedula hyperythra
Taiga FlycatcherFicedula albicilla
Blue Rock ThrushMonticola solitarius
White-throated Rock ThrushMonticola gularis
Amur StonechatSaxicola stejnegeri
Pied Bush ChatSaxicola caprata
Grey Bush ChatSaxicola ferreus
Leafbirds (Chloropseidae)
Blue-winged LeafbirdChloropsis moluccensis
Golden-fronted LeafbirdChloropsis aurifrons
Flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae)
Fire-breasted FlowerpeckerDicaeum ignipectus
Scarlet-backed FlowerpeckerDicaeum cruentatum
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Ruby-cheeked SunbirdChalcoparia singalensis
Van Hasselt’s SunbirdLeptocoma brasiliana
Olive-backed SunbirdCinnyris jugularis
Mrs. Gould’s SunbirdAethopyga gouldiae
Green-tailed SunbirdAethopyga nipalensis
Black-throated SunbirdAethopyga saturata
Crimson SunbirdAethopyga siparaja
Purple-naped SunbirdKurochkinegramma hypogrammicum
Little SpiderhunterArachnothera longirostra
Streaked SpiderhunterArachnothera magna
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus
House SparrowPasser domesticus
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Scaly-breasted MuniaLonchura punctulata
White-rumped MuniaLonchura striata
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Grey WagtailMotacilla cinerea
White WagtailMotacilla alba
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
Vietnamese GreenfinchChloris monguilloti
Red CrossbillLoxia curvirostra
Total seen263
Total heard only14
Total recorded277

Reptile List

Deceased reptiles are marked with (D) after the common name.

Common NameScientific Name
Dragons (Agamidae)
Crowned PricklenapeAcanthosaura coronata
Spotted Flying DragonDraco maculatus
Gekkonidae (Geckos)
Asian House GeckoHemidactylus platyurus
Flat-tailed House GeckoHemidactylus platyurus
Tokay GeckoGekko gecko
Skinks (Scincidae) 
Common MabuyaEutropis multifasciata
Spotted Forest SkinkSphenomorphus maculatus
Glass and Alligator Lizards (Anguidae)
Sokolov’s Glass LizardDopasia sokolovi
Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae)
Green Cat SnakeBoiga cyanea
Speckle-bellied KeelbackRhabdophis chrysargos
Javan (Indochinese) Rat SnakePtyas korros
Typical Blind Snakes (Typhlopidae)
 Brahminy Blindsnake (D)Indotyphlops braminus

Mammal List

Common NameScientific Name
Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)
Northern Pig-tailed MacaqueMacaca leonina
Rhesus MacaqueMacaca mulatta
Black-shanked Douc LangurPygathrix nigripes
Red-shanked Douc LangurPygathrix nemaeus
Gibbons (Hylobatidae)
Red-cheeked (Yellow-cheeked) GibbonNomascus gabriellae
Deer (Cervidae)
SambarRusa unicolor
Northern Red MuntjacMuntiacus vaginalis
Chevrotains (Tragulidae)
Lesser Oriental ChevrotainTragulus kanchil
Squirrels (Sciuridae) 
Berdmore’s (Indochinese Ground) SquirrelMenetes berdmorei
Pallas’s SquirrelCallosciurus erythraeus
(Asian) Red-cheeked SquirrelDremomys rufigenis
Cambodian Striped SquirrelTamiops rodolphii
Maritime Striped SquirrelTamiops maritimus
Treeshrews (Tupaiidae)
Northern TreeshrewTupaia belangeri
Northern Smooth-tailed TreeshrewDendrogale murina
Mustelids (Mustelidae)
Yellow-throated MartenMartes flavigula
Suids (Suidae)
Wild BoarSus scrofa
Bovids (Bovidae)
Domestic Water BuffaloBubalus bubalis


This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

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