A photo of an Asian stonechat hunting for prey.

Nguyen Hong Huy (28 years old, from Da Nang) has been passionate about photography, especially wild birds, since 2019.

When Mr. Huy started learning photography, he often climbed Son Tra Mountain in search of impressive natural scenery. He caught images of many unique birds chirping in the bushes, freely passing on branches, flying... "I was attracted by those small, agile birds. I started to learn and 'hunt' for photos of them," Mr. Huy said.

Located about 10km northeast of Da Nang city center, Son Tra peninsula is considered the "green lung" of the city. This place covers an area of ​​more than 4,400 hectares. It is the home of nearly 1,000 species of plants and hundreds of species of animals, of which the "treasure" is the brown-legged douc langur with hundreds of individuals being strictly conserved.

Besides the rare langur, Son Tra peninsula is a "platform" for migratory birds around the world. They fly from the North to the South in the last months of the year or visit in April and May to breed. This is also the most suitable time for photographers to travel to Son Tra to look for the best pictures.

The rarest bird Mr. Huy has ever had the opportunity to see is the yellow-breasted bunting – a bird listed as critically endangered in the Red Book. "According to my research, these buntings are often hunted and trapped in nets, so they are very shy. To take pictures of them, I had to spend most of the time in the forest for days to approach and take pictures," Mr. Huy said.

To take impressive photos of each bird species, it is necessary to get close to them. Mr. Huy often goes online to read about the behavior of each species, and spends time observing from a far distance (to understand the feeding time, appearance area, basic behavior) before planning an approach.

"We had to camouflage, hide, and move under the groves. Sometimes we had to crawl quietly on the sand to approach the birds, while focusing on observing to shoot continuously, capturing precious moments. Many moments may only appear once and it is difficult to see again," he said.

"If the birds live close to the sea, sometimes I have to put the camera on the buoy to approach from the water to the shore. I don't want to affect their life, make them afraid and leave," he added.

As Mr. Huy loves the birds on Son Tra, he joined the Vietnam Bird Conservation Society (VBCS) to support the protection of migratory birds and to limit hunting.

On each bird hunting trip, Mr. Huy is most afraid of witnessing people setting traps and trying to hunt migratory birds. When Mr. Huy advised them to give up these acts, many people thought that this was none of his business. "There have been some cases where I and the members of the VBCS have had to report and work with the authorities to have deterrent measures or administrative sanctions to protect the birds," he said.

There are many species of birds in Son Tra, ranging from settled species such as kingfishers, sunbirds, junglefowls, water rails, oriental skylarks and blue rock thrushes to migratory species such as grey wagtails, bar-tailed godwits, herring gulls...

"Hunting for photos of migratory birds is a job that requires patience and even risks. However, I hope my photos can spread to Da Nang people, tourists.... a sense of protecting wild birds, respecting nature," Mr. Huy said.

Little egrets playing on the beach.
The yellow-breasted bunting is a bird that is difficult to approach.
Bar-tailed godwit – a species of bird that is listed as NT conservation level (Near-threatened).
Whiskered tern (above) and Amur falcon hunt prey.
Herring Gull, a migratory bird that was first recorded in the waters of Da Nang.
White storks.
Photos: Nguyen Hong Huy

Linh Trang