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A Shot in the Dark

VIETNAM | Thursday, 28 March 2024 | Views [42]

Up, up, up—High Above Da Lat

Up, up, up—High Above Da Lat

DAWN COMES EARLY IN MOUNT BIDOUP National Park and were on the trail by 5:30. It was a short but rugged hike to the first bird hide where the Collared Laughingthrushes were waiting impatiently as if we were late delivering their breakfast. Target Bird #1 out of the way—easy peasy! Then Quang force-marched us on a jolly half-mile bushwack to another hide. Connie and I alternately helped to push and pull Norrine and “the other John” up and down the steeper sections of the rough trail. We sat in the hide for a while catching our breath for 30 minutes or so but the White-Cheeked Laughingthrush was AWOL.


                 Collared Laughingthrushes 


                      Vietnamese Greenfinch


                     Red Crossbill 

After a piecemeal breakfast at a roadside cafe we returned to the place we had glimpsed the Vietnamese Greenfinch yesterday. Both the male and female were plainly visible but the only decent photos were when one perched on the guardrail. We continued on for a couple of miles, racking up several new birds for the trip but only Kloss’s Leaf Warbler made Connie’s list.


                        Another "lifer'  Kloss's Leaf Warbler 


                    Chestnut Vented Nuthatch


                          Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

Around 3:00 PM we drove up, up, up to 5000 feet in the National Park searching for the Eurasian Jay and the very rare and seldom photographed Dalat Bush Warbler. The "real" birders got excited with only a glimpse of the Jay; it  seems it may be "split" into two species soon. Sounds painful. As we were ready to call it a day, Andre heard the Bush Warbler call. He set his speaker in a likely spot and repeated its call. I could see it flitting around in the bushes responding to Andre’s playback but it was late and I couldn’t seem to get my camera to focus in the dimming light. When Connie said the bird had landed just behind Andre’s speaker I snapped this shot—I didn’t see the bird until later after Connie had processed the photos! A real "shot in the dark."


                    Da Lat Bush Warbler—any photo is a good photo

Our food rebellion caught on with our mates and we all trooped to an Italian restaurant for dinner. This would be our last opportunity for something non-Vietnamese. Pizza, pesto, lasagne . . .yum, yum!


                     Our room at vory Falls Vila


                          Take care around the ear!

We left Da Lat after breakfast yesterday and were in our rooms at Ivory Falls Villa in Di Linh before noon. This is one place I wish we could have stayed longer. The rooms were nice, Hedda enjoyed the pool, the wifi was fast and the food was excellent—the owner cooked her mother’s famous “almost-American” pork pot roast for dinner. While we were waiting to bird in the cool of the day, Connie took scissors to my gray locks for a much needed shearing.


                     Blue Pita, another tick for Connie 


                          Bareback Partridge, Number 6,200

Did I mention that the birding was good? We logged twenty species around the villa the first afternoon and another fifty this morning at the hide and along the road near Deo Nui San Pass on the way to Cat Tien including two biggies. Both the Blue Pita and Barebacked Partridge were targets for the trip and new birds for us. 


                      Siberian Blue Robin


                       Green-Billed Malkoha


                       Black-collared Starling in the Rice Paddy

Some of the other new birds for the trip we saw near Di Linh included the Hainan Blue Flycatcher, White-Throated Rock Thrush and Green-Billed Malkoha. I also improved our photos of the Puff-throated Bulbul and Black-Collared Starling.



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