Located in Lac Duong district on the Da Lat plateau, Bi Dup-Nui Ba Nature Reserve is mountainous and the whole site lies at 1,400 m above the sea level. The highest points in the nature reserve are Mount Lang Bian (also known as Nui Ba) in the west, which reaches 2,167 m, and Mount Bi Dup in the east, which reaches 2,287 m. The nature reserve contains three distinct water catchments. The east of the nature reserve, around Mount Bi Dup, is the catchment of the Da Nhim River, which feeds Da Nhim hydro-electric reservoir. The west of the nature reserve, around Mount Lang Bian, is the catchment of Dan Kia Lake, which drains into the Da Dung River. Finally, streams originating in the north of the nature reserve feed the Dak Krong Kno River, which flows west then north, before joining the Srepok River.
Several mountains in this area rise to over 2000m, the highest being Chu Yang Sin at 2442m. The plateau has been designated as an Endemic Bird Area by Birdlife International.
Bird fauna – Birding
Being one of the five endemic bird areas (EBAs) in Vietnam identified by BirdLife International, Da Lat plateau has eight of the eight restricted-range bird species that occur in this EBA, Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata, Yellow-billed Nuthatch Sitta solangiae, Black-hooded Laughingthrush Garrulax milleti, White-cheeked Laughingthrush G. vassali, Collared Laughingthrush G. yersini, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler (Indochinese Wren Babbler) Jabouilleia danjoui and Vietnamese Greenfinch Carduelis monguilloti. Black-crowned Crocias Crocias langbiansis.
The Dalat Plateau also supports distinctive and endemic sub-species of Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Blue-winged Minla, Black-throated Sunbird and Red Crossbill, Vietnamese Cutia, Black-crowned Fuvetta, Black-headed Parrotbill.
Silver Pheasant, Bar-backed Partridge, Red-vented Barbet, Black-browed Barbet, Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Jerdon’s Baza, Rusty-naped Pitta, Blue Pitta, Burmese Shrike, Indochinese Green Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Slender-billed Oriole, Maroon Oriole, White-throated Rock Thrush, Green Cochoa, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Lesser Shortwing, White-tailed Robin, Spotted Forktail, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Grey-crowned Tit, Grey-bellied Tesia, White-spectacled Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Collared Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Streaked Wren Babbler, Eyebrowed Wren Babbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Vietnamese Cutia, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Indochinese Fulvetta, Grey-crowned Crocias, Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Black-headed Parrotbill, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Red Crossbill, Brown Bullfinch.
The cool climate, pine forests, lakes and waterfalls make Dalat a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists; weekends and, especially, public holidays can be very busy. The Dalat area is also known throughout Vietnam for its market gardens and nurseries growing vegetables and flowers. Many birding sites are reachable within a few minutes driving from Da Lat city.
Mount Lang Bian
Only 12 km north of the city, Lang Bian Mountain (also called ‘Nui Ba’ is easily reached by motorbike taxi or car. A trail leads up the mountain through pine forest to remaining montane evergreen forest at the summit. Vietnamese Greenfinch can be found in the pines all the way along the trail, with Red Crossbill in the pines nearer the summit. The endemic Collared Laughingthrush Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-crowned Fulvetta can be found in the evergreen forest leading up to the summit. Other interesting species found here include Green Cochoa, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-throated Sunbird and Vietnamese Cutia.
Tuyen Lam Lake
Just 3km outside of the Dalat city, this man-made lake is easily reached by motorbike or car but it is necessary to hire a boat to access the remnant forest at the far end of the lake where the best birding is to be found. There are some trails through the forest but they are poorly marked and hard to find. Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Grey-crowned Crocias and Vietnamese Greenfinch, Vietnamese Cutia are among the local specialities.
Ta Nung valley
Around 15 km from Da Lat by motorbike or car, this is one of the best sites for Grey-crowned Crocias. Indochinese Green Magpie, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded, White-cheeked and ‘Orange-breasted’ Laughingthrushes, and Grey-headed Parrotbill can also be seen here.
Deo Nui San
These forested mountains pass on the main road Di Linh to Phan Thiet around 80 km from Da Lat is the most reliable site for ‘Orange-breasted’ Laughingthrush. Blue and Rusty-naped Pittas, Green Cochoa, Black-hooded and White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Indochinese Fulvetta and Grey-headed Parrotbill are also possible here.