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Ngoc Linh National Park

VIETNAM | Thursday, 21 March 2024 | Views [60]

Rice terraces near Ngoc Linh

Rice terraces near Ngoc Linh

HOANG GIA TRANG GUEST HOUSE in Ngoc Linh is as low as we can sink, lodging-wise—at least we hope it is. It’s the only game in town and features rock hard beds with a single sheet and blanket in which we wrapped ourselves like human burritos and a sink that drained onto the bathroom floor along with the shower. No air-con or wifi, of course, but the fan helped to drown out the karaoke from across the road. Lucky us—we got to stay for two nights!


          As bad as it can get, at least we hope so


                          I think I have been here before

Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve is less than 100 kilometers west of Chu Lai, where I was stationed in ’68-’69 and only 20 kilometers from the Laotian border and I have a feeling I have been here (or somewhere nearby) before under different circumstances— this time we’re here to see the Golden-winged Laughing Thrush, the only place it is found in Vietnam. I don’t recall the terraced rice paddies from ‘68—we would have been choppered in—but looking down on the morning clouds was definitely familiar. 


                       Cold, wet and miserable in the bird hide


                    Drip, Drip, Drip

Some might say that luring birds to a feeding station with tasty mealworms isn’t quite sporting—when the trip costs several thousand dollars, anything goes! We had to pay our dues, slipping and sliding, huffing and puffing up the muddy trail in a steady rain just to get to the hide, 6000 feet high. Even though our trail was only two “klicks” (mil-speak for kilometer) we were knackered by the time we reached the bird hide. I gained new appreciation for the Army “Grunts” who regularly patrolled this terrain carrying a full packs—all we had were cameras, binoculars and water.


                      Brown-crowned Scimitar Babler


                         Grey-bellied Tesia


                           Rufous-winged Fulvetta

While a park ranger spread hundreds of meal worms on the ground and Andre played his recorded bird calls, we huddled cold and wet, waiting for the show to begin. We sat and shivered for four hours waiting for the Golden-winged Laughing Thrush to appear but he was Missing In Action. Among the fifteen species did come to the buffet were seven we had never seen before. 


                          Black-crowned Barwing (with w raindrop on his bill)


                   Indochinese Fulvetta


                     Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher

Never ask for whom the thrush laughs; it laughs for thee.


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