Birds of Tram Chim national park and Mekong delta

Located in Mekong delta, Vietnam, Tram Chim national park was nominated by the Provincial Authorities of Dong Thap Province as a site for restoring the original Plain of Reeds ecosystem in 1985 by zoning 5,000 ha as a reserve. In 1992, the Prime Minister issued a special order for prompt action to save the Sarus Crane and the wetland ecosystem of Tram Chim. In 1994 Tram Chim was decreed a National Reserve of 7,500 ha and in 1999 was recognised as a National Park. The site is currently being listed under the Ramsar Convention as international important wetland

The total area of Tram Chim National Park is c.7,740 ha. Canals, totalling 53 km in length, surround and bisect the site creating six habitat management plots. Melaleuca was planted for production in the past and now forms a substantial inundated forest. The site is inundated annually to a depth of 2-3 metres during the wet season. There are 22,000 people living adjacent to the boundaries of the site. 
There are more than 300 bird species have been recorded in the park, however many of them are very rare or no longer seen recently. Some species have declined their population rapidly, especially Sarus Crane population has dropped from more 200 birds to less than 20 birds in 10 years. On the other hand, many populations are increasing such as Asian Openbill, Oriental Darter, Cormorants, Egrets, etc. These changing have alarmed scientists and conservationists to consider, we need to understand why it has been happening and how to sustain this unique ecosystem.

Whatever happens, since it was listed as Ramsar site in 2012, Tram Chim national become one of attractive ecotourism destinations. Number of tourists visiting the site to learn the wetland and its birds. To help visitors understand what they going to see there, by this post, we would like to introduce some of birds that easy to see by naked-eyes or binoculars. These birds are also cover most of the "normal seen" at bird santuaries in the Mekong delta areas.

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Sarus Crane - Grus antigone sharpii - Sếu đầu đỏ - Sếu cổ trụi 


Family Ardeidae (Egrets, Herons, Bitterns)

Ardeidae members are easy to see in the park if you travel by boat along canals, , they're resident and can be seen year round. Most of non-birder visitors will be not able to distinguish different among egrets spcies as well as among herons, here are some keys

1 - Egrets are white birds, they have long legs, long neck and uasally stand in flooding grassland, edge of cannal or paddy ricefield. There are 4 species of "white" egrets, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret and Cattle Egret. By its names, you can understand their relative sizes are big, medium and small however you only can tell when they stand together, otherwise no reference!

Little Egret has black bill, yellow feet

Little Egret

Both Great Egret and Intermediate have yellow bill, black legs and feet but the latter has traight neck, black bill tip.

Great Egret
Intermediate Egret

Finally, the Cattle Egret. It is easy to regconise in breeding season when plumage becomes orange however a bit challenge in non-breeding when you see from distance, it looks quite like Intermediate Egret but very short neck. It usually seen on paddy field, on the top of tree or following cows/buffaloes 

Cattle Egret

>>>>>>>> Next for Herons