Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Birding in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Myanmar

Posted by Amanda Gallinat

One of the best parts of my recent trip to Southeast Asia was the birding! While the birds were at times evasive due to rain in Vietnam and the dense understory of tropical forests in Myanmar, the birds we did see were spectacular.

Southeast Asia is host to a diversity of kingfishers. One of the first birds we spotted at Hong Kong's Gold Coast Marina was a White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), flying between boats and fishing for its breakfast. In Vietnam, we added the Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) to our list, and saw the Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) stealthily searching for fish in a lagoon in Myanmar.

White-throated Kingfisher at the Gold Coast Marina, Hong Kong

In Vietnam, we scheduled a full day of birding around Danang and Hoi An with wildlife biologist Luc Nguyen. This included a visit to Son Tra (Monkey Mountain) to look for birds. Unfortunately, it rained all day. While the birds made themselves scarce on Monkey Mountain, we did see plenty of --you guessed it-- monkeys!

Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) on Monkey Mountain, Vietnam

Red-shanked Douc Langur (Pygathrix nemaeus) on Monkey Mountain, Vietnam

Populations of the Red-shanked Douc Langur are estimated to have declined between 50-80% over the past 30 years throughout Southeast Asia, and the species is now listed as endangered. The WWF has been managing the population on Monkey Mountain in Danang as part of their conservation plan for the species.

We met up with Luc again on our last morning in Vietnam for a sunnier try at birding! We biked to nearby rice paddies along the Thu Bon river and saw many wading birds, as well as passerines/near-passerines foraging from perches, including shrikes, bee-eaters, and stone chats.

Sam and two great guides: Luc Nguyen and Birds of Southeast Asia, in Hoi An, Vietnam

Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus) in a Hoi An rice paddy, Vietnam

Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) by the Thu Bon river in Hoi An, Vietnam

Finally, we headed to Myanmar where we did most of our birding by kayak, around islands and lagoons. We saw several small groups of hornbills, often from a distance, and enjoyed the chance to identify some birds we'd never seen before, such as the Beach Thick-knee (Esacus magnirostris), Plain-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) and the Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela).

Beach Thick-knee on a small island in the south of Myanmar

Plain-throated Sunbird on the forest edge of the same small island, Myanmar

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