The beautiful dancing red-headed cranes

red-headed-cranesThe recent news about the herds of Sếu Đầu Đỏ, or red-headed cranes, flocking to Tràm Chim National Park around this time reminds me of an unforgettable trip to the birds’ sanctuary in Đồng Tháp Province a year ago, when I saw 10 such rare birds dancing under the scorching sunlight at noon.

I was so fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to see them strut their stuff as they stretched their wings or darted to the right and to the left on grass fields to look for their favorite food nan (grass) or fly high in the beautiful, blue sky.

‘Seeing is believing’ is the best way to explain how beautifully these feathered, bare-necked cranes dance.

February to April gives bird lovers their best chance to catch sight of Sếu Đầu Đỏ, which has been listed in the World’s Red Book of Threatened Species, because they usually return to Tràm Chim from Việt Nam’s neighboring nations.

Dozens of red-headed cranes migrated to the sanctuary in the Mekong Delta province last year and the same number is expected this year.

You have to be prepared to walk or even crawl quickly but quietly if you want to have any chance of seeing these creatures in the sanctuary, which has just been recognized as a site of the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands of International Importance.

watchYou can observe Sếu Đầu Đỏ as part of a boat tour that takes in grass-plots and canals criss-crossing the 7,500-hectare Tràm Chim in Tam Nông District.

The boat driver knows the best sites and times to see them.

When the boat comes near these sites, he turns off the engine and rows the boat to the canal bank before asking his guests to disembark and follow him silently to the lines of bạch đàn (cajuput trees) or bushes.

There, he uses binoculars to look for the cranes and when he sees them he will pass the binoculars to his guests for a quick look.

The cranes are smart and fly if they hear noise.

So, you have to watch them from afar, maybe more than 100 meters away.

Tràm Chim sanctuary situated in the heart of Đồng Tháp Muoi (Plain of Reeds) is a habitat for over 230 birds species with many listed as rare and endangered including herons and pelicans.

Tràm Chim is also home to 130 species of native plants, 130 species of freshwater fish, as well as various species of snakes, turtles and pythons.

By BINH NGUYÊN 

Source: The Saigon Times

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