A few late autumn goodies from northern Vietnam

The last few weeks dragonflies have become scarce, so my attention has shifted somewhat to birds. November 15 I visited Sa Pa and hiked up to the reservoir above the road that leads from Sa Pa town to the Love Waterfall area. Beyond the reservoir there are a number of small rocky streams running through what once was lovely forest and what is now an area with a few remaining trees and a lot of shrub. I was very happy to repeatedly flush a Wood Snipe that eventually I also saw for an instant on the ground, when it crossed a stream, before taking off again. To me this was both an unexpected and much desired species, irrespective of the fact that all snipe are more or less the same. The same day I also saw at approximately the same location a Long-tailed Shrike of subspecies tricolor. The first time I saw this subspecies in Vietnam. Apparently its range just about extends to the Sa Pa area.December 5 I visited the same area again. No Wood Snipe this time, but I saw several female Blue-fronted Redstarts, new in Vietnam for me. It apparently winters regularly in the Sa Pa area. Another new bird for my Vietnamese list was the Great Spotted Woodpecker. A female fed in a lone tree for a while, before moving on.Tam Dao also offered a few interesting birds to me recently, along the long trail at Tam Dao 2. On December 6 I was thrilled to flush a Dark-sided Thrush from the vegetation along the path that perched just long enough on a fallen log for me to be able to ID it. That same day also brought a party of Red-billed Scimitar-Babblers. Both were new birds for me.On December 12, along the same trail and on a rather misty day, a party of Short-tailed Parrotbills were the definite highlight. I love parrotbills and seeing a party feeding for a while in close proximity was fantastic.Below a photo of a Blue-fronted Redstart, taken with my macro lens.Tom Kompier