When we first arrived at the site, it looked like a nice peaceful walk down a track taking in birdlife in the trees surrounding. And at first this was very much the case, but as the morning went on, it was obvious it was a bit of playground for the selfie obsessed posers that the world seems to have generated. Yet this also the best place in Da Lat for Grey-crowned Crocias, as well as a host of other species which we picked up during the morning. The track descends through fairly open areas to the small lakes below, which are surrounded by good forest as well as many playthings for the tourists. A corner of the forest just above 3 small huts was particularly productive, even though many of the birds required some neck craning to see. The play kicked off with Flavescent Bulbul and brief Indochinese Barbet, after which we came across a bushful of very active Mrs Gould’s Sunbirds, which we spent some frustrating time trying to photograph. After finally succeeding, we pinned down the first of 2 Grey-crowned Crocias. Unfortunately, they favour the canopy but decent views were had if a little distant.
As we walked further down to the corner of the forest at the base of the track, we just kept on turning up many species, pick of which were the second Crocias, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, and a huge Red-vented Barbet directly over us. Hill Prinias were much more obliging today, although the group of Verditer Flycatchers feeding were a little more distant. We then walked over to the corner of the lake, to gaze up at calling Dalat Shrike-babbler. Lying on our backs was the key to best views here, and a Necklaced Barbet in the same tree gave brief views before flying into cover. Another Red-vented Barbet flew into a bare tree next to this, which also hosted a trio of Asian Fairy Bluebirds. Back from the lake and in the shade of a tree hosting an ice cream van, as well as horrific Asian music blaring out of tinny speakers, a Barred Cuckoo Dove was spotted nearby, and stayed feeding on the same berries for some time. By this time, Black-headed Sibias seemed to have gained the energy to move about, and some were singing for the first time last in the morning. Ascending the track again to the car, it was noticeable that the sunbirds that were so active had now vacated the nectar bushes, in their place leaving the scooter youth to take their self portraits.
This location is somewhere Quang reckons he has discovered only recently, and so it doesn’t have a name as such. It consists of a rough and narrow at times concrete track, which undulates in the lower hills above Da Lat through either pine or broadleaf forest. The initial ten minutes or so were spent looking at a dirt path through some pine forest, but apart from Mountain Bulbul when we returned it was very quiet. So we re-joined the concrete track and tried our luck at birding the forest margins alongside it. This kicked off in short time with a male Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, but the walk was enlivened as we reached a bend and dip in the track to find a small party of Black-headed Parrotbills. They were generally quite elusive, but occasionally stopped to allow us a good gander. Also at this point were a few Blue-winged Minlas and a White-cheeked Laughingthrush. We added some of the more common species as we wended our way, including Ashy Drongo, Flavescent Bulbul and Verditer Flycatcher. When we came to a crossroads overlooking the valley below, the concrete fizzled out to a rough track with a crossroads, dutifully overseen by a pair of Black Bulbuls. Quang was obviously looking more closely at this area, and I have no doubt this was the specific locale he was looking for. We combed the area as he played the call of one bird in particular, and we even waded through some of the thicker vegetation off track for a search. It obviously wasn’t the Grey Bushchat or trio of Chestnut-vented Nuthatches he was craving for, or the House Swifts overhead. We crossed over to a dirt path through the grass again searching, until we had a response. A bit of a wait and more responses in kind, then we were eventually looking at a singing Dalat Bush Warbler. The IOC still have this as a subspecies of Russet Bush Warbler, and even the more recent splits (non IOC) have kept this as Annam Bush Warbler, which has a range across South to North Annam. However, he was chuffed to bits that we had seen the last of his Da Lat endemics, so this last species of the day ended very much on a good note.