I had visited friends working at a local university and it was suggested by them that I go to the local park where the bird life was reported as increasing rapidly.
It was growing rapidly because the area had been severely napalmed during the war. Following a wave of planting, new trees were just starting to reach some degree of maturity and so the landscape was maturing too.
Blue-throated bee-eater at Binh Duong
It was also suggested I visit the lake furthest from the entrance in the park as there were less people there and even out here, birds are wary of people.
All this proved sound advice. The birding was so different and more varied than in central Saigon.
The area was a mix of lakeside, grassland and lightly wooded landscape.
the far side of the park
Apart from the very common tree sparrow, a ubiquitous bird in East and Southeast Asia, there were plenty of bulbuls around. Unlike in Saigon were the only bulbul was the quiet and camouflaged streak eared bulbul, here it was the noisy sooty headed bulbul. This was my first lifer of the day.
Olive backed sunbird were seen in Saigon but here there were less wary and more numerous. Unlike in Saigon,they stood still long enough to be photographed.
There were at least three types of dove.
olive backed sunbird feeding
The most numerous were red turtle dove which was also another lifer for me.
male and female red turtle dove
Zebra dove was also present. I had seen my first ones ever in the Philippines the week before. There seems to be some debate how this bird got to Vietnam. It is a fairly recent arrival and whether it was range expansion or escapes seems unclear.
The third dove was feral rock dove (pigeon) which appears to have been given a man-made dovecot at one side of the lake.
There was quite a bit of shrike activity although they were at higher vantage points than most of the shrikes from the part of the world I normally bird in.
male Burmese shrike
One of the shrikes has been identified as a male Burmese shrike thanks to BirdForum.
I am awaiting full identification of the juvenile shrike pictured above. It has been suggested it may be a juvenile Burmese shrike though I felt it looked fatter and shorter tailed than the positively identified adult Burmese shrike.
Two plain prinia darted towards long grass from the side of the lake at one point. I could immediately identify them as members of the prinia family. This left me three choices and which one is obvious. This bird has very little streaking anywhere. It was another lifer.
At one stage the prinia went out of sight and in my efforts to retrace them a pipit dropped down in front of me on the ground. This is a paddyfield pipit, the only pipit in south east Asia in summer. In winter, its a different story with 5 others commomplace apparently. And yes this was yet another lifer.
As I walked back towards the park gate I picked up some more colourful birds (albeit in bad light conditions). Several blue throated bee-eater were taking sorties from perches on the edge of the woodland.
In the area near the gate and close to people, a coppersmith barbet allowed me prolonged views though mostly from up on high.
second view of coppersmith barbet
Both the barbet and bee-eater were yet more lifers.
The house swift above weren't lifers! I had seen them in Taiwan two weeks before.
To sum up, this was an excellent couple of hours birdng sandwiched between social activities. It made up for my disappointment in central Saigon. I only had one small regret and that was that I didn't get a handle on a bird of prey which passed by on a couple of occasions. However, birding was never meant to be easy.