A new feeding station to us beckoned, this one a slightly different construction to the previous ones. We descended quite a long hill through the forest, passing the good omen of a couple of Long-tailed Broadbills on the way down, to find a closed off square hide with open top. This meant we not only had decent views of the feeding area, but could also see the forest above ground level around us. This was to be the key to the enjoyment of this site. We had come for Blue Pitta and possible Silver Pheasant. The latter showed no signs and the former only a couple of birds calling sporadically. However, the accompanying avian life in the surrounding trees during our stay was superb and almost constant. After the usual female Siberian Blue Robin had put in an appearance, Puff-throated Bulbuls gave tantalisingly brief views. Mountain Fulvetta and White-throated Fantails busily fed at eye level around us, but White-bellied Erpornis kept to the rear of the area. The higher trees above were very productive, giving us Speckled Piculet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Indochinese Barbet, while a gap through the trees seemed popular for Blue-winged Leafbird, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, and Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike. Buff-breasted Babbler put in a late appearance to the feeding area, and we managed to pin down one of two Yellow-bellied Warblers as we left.
The next feeding station was a bit of a disappointment in itself. Waiting for a hoped for Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, all we turned up was another female Siberian Blue Robin. Quang went to check another station while we waited, but was away for some time while nothing was showing, so we decided to go back down to the road to see what we could pick out. This was a great move, since it only took a couple of minutes to spot a pair of Besra over the tops of the hills. Another larger raptor was flying from us not showing any useful features, but another circled above the lower hills giving good flight views. The closer of the two turned out to be Rufous-bellied Eagle, and the other may have been the same species, but views were very poor. Also here while waiting were Black-crested Bulbul, Ashy Drongo and Grey-eyed Bulbul.
When Quang had returned, he asked if we wanted to return to the first hide for the outside possibility of Blue Pitta, or walk along the forest edge to see what we could find. He had reckoned that Blue Pitta was only really a possible during early morning, but if there was to be any chance . . . . ! So of course we opted for the long shot. And what a decision. After the prerequisite Siberian Blue Robin and Orange-headed Thrush, I couldnít believe my eyes when I turned to look to my right and a female Blue Pitta was staring back at me. It hopped straight off, then less than a minute later was feeding in front of us. Time now was about 11:30. It didnít take much time for the male to appear as well. The latter was the shyer of the two, with the female showing many times over the next half an hour or so. This was the high excitement but not the end of the good birds. Midday came and went as we notched up very active Grey-throated Babbler in the background, Puff-throated Bulbul perching briefly over the feeding area, and a pair of White-browed Scimitar Babblers feeding an immature which was parked up to the rear of the opening. Last and by no means least, a couple of White-cheeked Laughingthrushes put in a first appearance, although they preferred also to stay to the rear of the feeding area, generally behind the foliage. After this we tried our luck on the way out to pin down a pair of Long-tailed Broadbills which had a nest, but for some reason they didnít turn out.
A two hour drive and another few hundred metres in altitude Ė Da Lat plateau is apparently around 1500 metres high Ė and we were on the outskirts of the busy and tourist infested city of the same name. We headed straight for the trap that is the waterfalls, but naturally didnít pay the £10 to enter the popular bit with the throng. We headed instead up a small hill and into the small tract of pine woodland, which is purportedly the only one in this part of Vietnam. We had expected an end of the day fill in with a few decent birds, but this proved to be yet another excellent session. As soon as we passed the cafe at the top, we were into the woodland proper, which was quiet for people but not for the birds. In fact, as soon as we stepped out of the car in the car park, Black Bulbuls were flying between the trees, and just at the corner of the tarmac, a viewpoint down found a pair of very confiding Grey Bushchats. Hoopoes seemed to be constantly flying to and fro, but this was likely to be the same pair tending a nest, since they seemed to be carrying food. Spotted Doves preceded an elusive Hill Prinia, but there then followed a more showy cast including Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Green-backed Tit, and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker. A Eurasian Jay in a nearby group of trees was quite different from those in Europe having a white face. A skittish Burmese Shrike preceded some time trying to catch up with and have a good look at a pair of Slender-billed Orioles, whose call was very much different from the speciesí already seen. After trying to pin down a briefly calling Oriental Scops Owl without success, walking a bit further found a collection of Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes, White-throated Fantail, and Streaked Spiderhunter. We then descended a little towards a valley containing a couple of small pools (with Chinese Pond-heron flying out), and spent yet more time pinning down a singing Mountain Tailorbird. It was happier keeping itself under the denser vegetation cover, until eventually yet briefly coming out into the open. As we neared the end of the walk we added another Burmese Shike, with yet another near to the cafe (along with a couple of Scaly-breasted Munias). Last action was yet another Burmese Shrike, looking like it had a bad wing but could still just about fly, and then an Ashy Drongo hammering a large insect to bits before devouring it.