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Birding in Cambodia

by Frank E. Rheindt

10-27 February 2004

formicarius.at.hotmail.com

In February 2004, I had two free weeks before guiding a highly successful Aves Tour to Vietnam. I decided to spend that time in Cambodia in search of a number of specialties. The country, which is home to a good number of rare and endangered birds that are difficult to see elsewhere, has experienced a considerable increase in birdwatcher visits within the last five years, yet site information has not become readily available on the internet.

The following site accounts are aimed at providing help to birders in search of some of the specialty birds Cambodia has to offer. Cambodia is one of those destinations that do not yield high trip totals, but are more suited for the birdwatcher who has had previous field experience in South-east Asia and who seeks one or two handfuls of special species. The report includes a small section on Samut Sakhon (Bangkok Area), which I visited before entering Cambodia. I am indebted to Frédéric Goes and Otani Chikara for their kind willingness to share information.

Target species: I am very happy that I saw all of my target species and got a few surprises in addition. Spot-billed Pelican, Greater Adjutant, Milky Stork, Bengal Florican, Manchurian Reed Warbler, Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis, Swinhoe's Minivet, White-rumped Falcon, Mekong Wagtail, Silver Oriole and Chestnut-headed Partridge were doubtless the best species of the trip. Do give yourself plenty of time to find these birds, because a couple of them (White-rumped Falcon and Chestnut-headed Partridge) required luck and days of searching and were seen only moments before I had to leave the respective sites.

Climate and Timing: Note that it is not recommended to attempt to see a great many of the specialties in this report during the rainy season (northern summer), as many of the sites are not accessible at that time, and many of the water birds are not reliably present at their stake-outs. Additionally the incidence of malaria is much higher during the rainy season, keeping in mind that some of the sites presented in this report (Preah Vihear, Siem Pang) lie within high-risk malaria areas. Don't be light-hearted when it comes to mosquito protection, since other birders have died of malaria in the very areas that are the subject of this report, one of them the man after whom they named the Mekong Wagtail (Motacilla samveasnae) and a conservation center in Siem Reap. A trip to Cambodia should best be envisaged between January and April.

General info: Though Khmer is a non-tonal language, it is still very hard to learn because of its wealth of consonant clusters. English is now widely spoken, and the knowledge of French was not of any help whatsoever in this former French colony. Though most Khmer people despise the Vietnamese and regard them as their former invaders, a few simple words of Vietnamese helped me out when talking with townspeople as far west as Siem Reap. Latin alphabet spellings of place names are strongly arbitrary. I have seen as many as 5 different spellings for the village of Chepp/Chhaeb, and there are usually two competing ones for most places.

Safety: Keep a close eye on Cambodian news when you visit. The country has now been hassle-free for a number of years since the Khmer Rouge disbanded, but some areas are still within lawless land where bandits roam freely. Besides, any election or similar event could initiate another period of civil unrest. Parts of Preah Vihear Province (where the two species of ibis are found) can be dangerous. Be sure to enquire about local conditions before you go.

Samut Sakhon

This was the second time I visited the Spoon-billed Sandpiper site at Samut Sakhon, after having missed that species by only a couple of days in March 2003. Good site information and even a birders' map of the area are available on the internet. It is recommended to get in touch with Mr Tee upon arrival at the site. He is glad to take people around on his motorbike and show them the exact location of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (and possibly a couple of other species on the wishlist) for a small donation.

This time again, Samut Sakhon was teeming with shorebirds, with a single Spoon-billed Sandpiper being complemented by loads of other species, such as Red-necked and Long-toed Stint, Broad-billed, Wood, Common, Marsh and Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank, some Stilts, as well as Little Ringed, Kentish, Lesser Sand and Pacific Golden Plover. Other waterbirds included Caspian and Little Tern, Brown-headed Gull, Little Heron, Little, Great and Intermediate Egret, Little Cormorant, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Gray and Purple Heron, Little Grebe as well as Black-capped and Collared Kingfisher. Good views were had of skulking Slaty-breasted Rails and Ruddy-breasted Crakes. Additional treats involved one Black Kite (ssp. lineatus), Black-shouldered Kite, Asian Koel, Spotted Dove, Large-billed Crow, Pied Fantail, Oriental Magpie Robin, Asian Pied Starling, Common and White-vented Myna, Plain Prinia, Zitting Cisticola, Yellow Wagtail, Tree Sparrow and a few Paddyfield Pipits on the school lawn.

Prek Toal Reserve (near Siem Reap, Lake Ton Le Sap)
12 Feb

Siem Reap must have transformed somewhat into a tourist hub over the last 5 years, as tourists have started again to flow into the area to witness the historic sites at Angkor. The temples are said to be spectacular. But being the only-ever tourist in Siem Reap who did not go to see them, I am in a bad position to tell.

Prek Toal is a nature reserve on the opposite side of Ton Le Sap (a giant seasonal lake) from Siem Reap. It is the breeding site of a few very rare South-east Asian waterbirds, and visitors to Cambodia will obviously not want to miss it. The best way to visit is to contact Frédéric Goes at the Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation (P.O. Box 9345 - Siem Reap – Cambodia), Tel: 063 963 710, E-mail: samveasna.at.online.com.kh. At the time, I was unable to get into touch with him, so I just arranged for a moto to the harbour (a few kilometres south of town) from where the "hovercraft" to Phnom Penh leaves, and hired a speedboat for transport across the lake. The bad news for budget birders is that boat transport will be one of the bigger expenses of your trip: I paid $50 US, thinking that was a good deal as compared to the "official rates" for tourist boats in the Lonely Planet Guide, but I was not aware that I would have to pay an extra $25 entrance charge for onward boat transportation (to the Greater Adjutant site) at the reserve headquarters. Frédéric Goes tells me that he recommends people directly contact Osmose Tours at osmose.at.online.com.kh if they are interested in a birding visit to Prek Toal from Siem Reap. Their rates are comparable to what I paid for roughing it on my own, but with the advantage that part of the revenue goes into the protection of Prek Toal.

Birds: Of the specialties, you will probably easily find Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill and Lesser Adjutant by just boating around the floating village where the headquarters is located. But to see the main specialty, Greater Adjutant, at this time of year, you need to be taken to a far-removed corner of the reserve. If you book a tourist trip to Prek Toal in Siem Reap (or with the Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation or Osmose Tours), make sure the tour departs early and includes a visit to the Greater Adjutant breeding spot. Getting there involves another lengthy speedboat ride from the HQ to a floating village at the mouth of a little river, from where you have to be paddled up the river for about 3-4hr until you get to a tree platform. From this platform, you can view a giant breeding colony of storks, mostly Openbill and Painted, but this is also the only place where I saw Milky Stork (another rarity). The Greater Adjutants breed far in the distance and I could only identify four individuals with a scope. Frédéric Goes informed me that access to this Greater Adjutant site varies greatly with season, and visitors in December may well be able to reach the spot by motor boat, whereas visitors in April would have to walk through knee-deep mud for two days to get there. Supposedly there are other – more unreliable – spots for Greater Adjutant in the reserve.

Birds other than those mentioned, which I saw in Prek Toal include: Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Common Kingfisher, Purple Swamphen, White-throated and Black-capped Kingfisher, Common Moorhen, Brown-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Gray-headed Fish Eagle, Little Egret, Purple and Gray Heron, Great and Intermediate Egret, Little Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow Bittern, Darter, Little and Indian Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Black-headed Ibis, Large-billed Crow, Oriental Magpie Robin, Common and White-vented Myna, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Dusky Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Tree Sparrow and Green-billed Malkoha. Two species (Yellow-bellied Prinia and Yellow-browed Warbler) were heard only.

Preah Vihear Province
13-16 Feb

Preah Vihear is a region is central northern Cambodia that has so far missed out on the advances of development. The local capital (Tbeng Meanchey) is still only accessible on an average dirt track (from Kompong Thom), and apart from a few horrible sand tracks, there are no other roads that would deserve that attribute. Guidebooks like Lonely Planet love to portray this area as one of the last truly wild places in South-east Asia where untamed jungle dominates the landscape, but apart from two small stretches of road (one between Kompong Thom and Tbeng Meanchey, and the other between Chepp and Stung Treng), I did not see any habitat I would call true forest, with most of the area being dominated by savannah interspersed with grasslands and little woodlots.

Birders have started to take an interest in Preah Vihear because of its remnant populations of Giant and White-shouldered Ibis. There are now two sites where the former can be seen, and one site where the latter is regularly found. But a visit to the area will also get you hooked up with a number of dryland species that may be hard to connect with elsewhere. Considering the scarcity of public transport, you are definitely better off renting a vehicle for the time of your visit so as to stand the greatest chance of finding the ibises and whatever else you want to see. While most birders will probably prefer to rent a 4WD in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, you do have the option of hiring a guide with a motorbike if you are on a budget, provided you feel physically able to hang on to the back of a bike on terrible sandtracks for days on end.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has a long-term project to protect the two species of ibis at the sites mentioned below. WCS has set up a guiding system to see the ibises and other key species and can be contacted at wcs.at.everyday.com.kh.

Tmat Baui: The site of greatest interest is Tmat Baui, a little village north of the provincial "capital" (Tbeng Meanchey) approximately 3km to the east of the track that leads all the way to Prasat Preah Vihear, the famous temple on the Thai border. From Tbeng Meanchey, it is only about a 3hr moto ride to the intersection to Tmat Baui. If you go with the WCS guide (see above), he will contact the village before you get there to make sure the ranger is not on an excursion. Accommodation is with the ranger. White-shouldered Ibis bred not far from the village, and the ranger's wife was able to show me two in the vicinity of their nest in broad daylight just minutes after my arrival. Giant Ibis required some longer hike (5km) with the ranger. His strategy was to check as many seasonal waterholes (tropeangs) as possible on the way to some larger wetland area, and one tropeang finally paid off.

Some of the best other birds on this stretch of the trip were in the dry forest (more like closed savannah) between the village and the main track, including Chinese Francolin, Rufous-winged Buzzard (common), Black-headed Woodpecker, Indochinese Bushlark and Brown Prinia. The savannah woodlands further afield from the village held Gray-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Common Flameback, Lineated and Coppersmith Barbet, Green Bee-eater, Brown-backed Needletail, Red Collared Dove, Crested Treeswift, Stork-billed Kingfisher (at a tropeang), Dollarbird, Vernal Hanging-Parrot, flocks of parakeet including Blossom-headed, Red-breasted and even Alexandrine Parakeet, Crested Serpent-eagle, Brahminy Kite, Shikra, Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Woolly-necked Stork, Black-necked Stork (1 at a tropeang), Golden-fronted Leafbird, Burmese Shrike, Greater Racket-teiled, Ashy and Spangled Drongo, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Rufous Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Black-hooded Oriole, Common Iora, Large and Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Common Woodshrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Small Minivet, Scaly Thrush (at a tropeang), Asian Brown and Red-throated Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, Siberian Stonechat, Chestnut-tailed, Vinous-breasted, Asian Pied and Black-collared Starling, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Great Tit, Red-rumped Swallow, Sooty-headed, Black and Streak-eared Bulbul, Gray-breasted, Rufescent and Plain Prinia, Radde's, Yellow-browed and Two-barred Warblers, White-crested Laughingthrush, Purple Sunbird, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Richard's and Olive-backed Pipit, Scaly Munia and Plain-backed Sparrow.

Birds seen along the road during the moto ride include Red Junglefowl, Indian Roller, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Asian Palm Swift, Spotted Dove, Emerald Dove, Cattle Egret, Greater Coucal, Green-billed Malkoha, Black Drongo, Oriental Magpie Robin, Pied Bushchat, Common Myna, Barn Swallow, Black-crested Bulbul and Olive-backed Sunbird.

Chepp/Chhaeb: This village is en route from Tbeng Meanchey to Stung Treng and makes for a good stop-over on your way to the Mekong River. The way to see Giant Ibis is by taking a local guide organised through WCS, who will take you to a tropeang a few kilometres from Chepp. The most secure way to view the bird is to stay at the tropeang overnight for an early morning, but a day visit might be fruitful, too. Since I had seen Giant Ibis at Tmat Baui, I just briefly stopped over in Chepp for a night, and as time was short I asked a seemingly disappointed guide to just take me around some of the good woodlands nearer to town, realizing that a visit to the Giant Ibis might have cost me another day. My main goal was seeing Swinhoe's Minivet, which birding groups have found here in the past, and a leisurely 5-hr morning stroll got me to a grove of ancient trees that yielded a great mixed flock containing four species of minivet (Small, Scarlet, Rosy and Swinhoe's), apart from Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Black-naped Oriole, White-browed Fantail, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and Large Woodshrike. The savannah areas around Chepp yielded pretty much all the species I had seen around Tmat Baui, and even the drier areas were rich in birdlife, producing Hoopoe, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black-shouldered Kite and Chestnut-headed Bee-eater. The older trees and groves in the savannah were fantastic for woodpeckers, with as many as ten species seen in a few hours (Gray-capped Pygmy, Lesser Yellownape, Streak-throated, Black-headed, Gray-headed, Great Slaty, Common and Greater Flameback, Rufous Woodpecker and White-bellied Woodpecker.

Stung Treng and Siem Pang
17-20 February

In an ideal itinerary, Stung Treng would be an end point or starting point of the Preah Vihear leg of your trip. Situated at the confluence of the Mekong with another major river (for which there are at least 3 slightly differing names available on different maps), this is the place to be if you want to find the newly described Mekong Wagtail. The bird is confined to river islands and vegetation along the riverside, and should eventually be seen if you hire a boat to take you around for a few hours (especially up the tributary). Other good river birds also make the time investment worthwhile (see below).

Siem Pang is a little town inhabited by Lao people a good day's boat journey up that very same tributary. Before Tmat Baui was staked out (see above), Siem Pang was the only reliable site for White-shouldered Ibis for a couple of years, but now fewer people actually may opt to go. I still decided that Siem Pang was worth the immense time investment (one day going up the river and one day going down, plus two full days there), since it is one of very few sites where White-rumped Falcon occurs, a species very far up on my wishlist. Remember to check on the terrestrial transport alternatives if time is really short, because it can apparently be done faster on the back of a motorbike if you want to rough it.

Birds: The boat journey to/from Siem Pang is probably the easiest way to connect with the Mekong Wagtail (beware: there are wintering leucopsis White Wagtails feeding on the same river islands). Along the lower parts of this tributary, Small Pratincole and Caspian Tern are easy to find, and the further up you go, chances increase of seeing (in descending order of number of sightings) River Tern, River Lapwing, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Great Thick-knee. In Siem Pang, where there is at least one very nice hostel, get in contact with the Virachey National Park office. They will assign you a park-guard/motorbike-driver for something like $20 a day who can then take you around for day trips. There is probably no other way to get into good habitat, unless you want to walk.

Most habitat is savannah, the closer to town, the more degraded. The park guards don't seem to be knowledgeable about the local avifauna, but they are well aware of the White-shouldered Ibis and the places where those are hanging about. Actually, on the second day, after quite a few ibis sightings, it took me some effort to let the park guard know that I was now more interested in finding some of the other goodies rather than just hang around waterholes.

I finally found a male of the sought-after White-rumped Falcon on the evening of the last day before departure in closed savannah, after having scanned countless tree-tops in the previous 50 hours. The species seems to be sparse, though other birding groups have had up to two independent encounters given the same time investment.

Generally, some patches of savannah at Siem Pang are excellent and yielded birds that were absent or scarce in Preah Vihear Province, such as one Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, one Streak-throated Woodpecker, Indian Cuckoo, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Eurasian Thick-knee, Black Baza, one Lesser Adjutant, one Collared Falconet, Brown Prinia, Crow-billed Drongo, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Asian Barred Owlet, Brown Hawk-owl and White-browed Fantail.

An ancient tree grove yielded a family of White-bellied Woodpeckers. The local birds (as well as those I had seen in Preah Vihear) show a distinct white patch on the upper wing as well as the underwing and appeared noticeably smaller than the ordinary South-east Asian feddeni subspecies. Moreover, the red on the male crown extends a lot farther down the hindneck on these birds and almost entirely encircles the eye. I wonder whether these birds still fall within the natural variation of feddeni or would be more appropriately designated a new subspecies.

Other good birds included Red Junglefowl, Gray-headed Pygmy Woodpecker, Indochinese Bushlark, Black-headed and Great Slaty Woodpecker, Common and Greater Flameback, Rufous Woodpecker, Lineated Barbet, Hoopoe, Radde's Warbler, Alexandrine and Red-breasted Parakeet, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Vernal Hanging-Parrot, Crested Treeswift, Spotted Owlet, Rufescent Prinia, Crested Serpent-eagle, Brahminy Kite, Shikra, Rufous-winged Buzzard, Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Woolly-necked Stork, Orange-fronted Leafbird, Plain-backed Sparrow, Brown and Burmese Shrike, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Rufous and Racket-tailed Treepie, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Sooty-headed and Streak-eared Bulbul, Black-hooded Oriole, Common Iora, Two-barred and Yellow-browed Warbler, White-crested Laughingthrush, Large Cuckooshrike, Large and Common Woodshrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Small Minivet, Verditer and Red-throated Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Black-collared and Vinous-breasted Starling, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Great Tit.

Among the more common species seen in Siem Pang and along the river, I was treated to Common Kingfisher, Green and Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Black-capped Kingfisher, Asian Koel, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Indian Roller, Spotted Dove, Red Collared Dove, White-breasted Waterhen, Red-wattled Lapwing, Common and Green Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, Osprey, Mangrove and Gray Heron, Little and Cattle Egret, Black and Ashy Drongo, Barn Swallow, Large-billed Crow, Oriental Magpie Robin, Pied Bushchat, Siberian Stonechat, Common and White-vented Myna, Scarlet-backed and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Olive-backed and Purple Sunbird, Olive-backed and Richard's Pipit as well as Asian Pied Starling.

Bokor National Park
22-25 Feb

The coastal range at Bokor National Park is one of two mountainous areas in Cambodia that feature some avian endemism, the other one being the Cardamom Mountains, which are due to remain out of bounds for yet another few years to come. Bokor has become a popular two-day trip destination for backpackers, who usually hire a motorbike (with or without a driver) at Kampot to go up to the top plateau, where (despite its low elevation at 1000m) the tall forest makes way to stunted woodland and eventually meadows. The French colonial occupants built a hill resort in the midst of creepy bogs and marshes, including casino and church, but all buildings are now dilapidated and make for an eerie atmosphere when the fog sets in at dusk. The park centre up here supplies simple mattresses and do-it-yourself noodle packages, so expect to share a dorm-style accommodation with many other backpackers. The rangers here are some of the least helpful park guards I have ever encountered, as they would not really care to give me any information on paths and habitat after repeated enquiries.

Birds: The main avian attraction in these – I am afraid to say – impoverished forests is the locally endemic Chestnut-headed Partridge, but it is a difficult bugger and you should not expect to score on this one. The impoverished but beautiful stunted plateau forest is obviously not the right habitat for it, and the road up here provides no access to the forest interior at intermediate elevations, so I wasted days trying to find a decent path into tall forest. Some low-key woodcutter paths and trapper paths diverge from the road, but be careful not to step into any active traps as I almost did.

However, after some searching I did find an excellent path that takes you all the way down to the bottom of the table mountain (if you want), starting from the Emerald Valley where the tea plantations used to be. Follow the footpath from the reservoir at the park station down to the abandoned tea plantation ruins (ca. 2km), and be sure not to cross the little river here, but instead find the trailhead into the forest to the right about 100-200m before you get to the little river. Following this trail, there will soon be a couple of minor stream crossings and after 2km you should eventually be on your descent to the lowlands. The forest gets better as you leave the plateau.

I lucked out with great views of a little covey of Chestnut-headed Partridge on the last morning (actually just two hours before my scheduled departure) at a stream about 4-6km down this trail. They seem to like lush growth around streams.

The forests in Bokor are amazingly quiet and poor in activity or mixed flocks. One flock did hold a surprise wintering Silver Oriole (a very rare bird), and I was glad to get another few good looks at Swinhoe's Minivets in the same flock. As far as remarkable sightings are concerned, an Indochinese Green Magpie (which I taped) and a few Sulphur-breasted Warblers in a warbler flock seem to be new or almost new records for Cambodia. Moreover, an Orange-headed Thrush in a fruiting tree, a flock of Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and loads of White-browed Scimitar-Babblers were good finds. Most warbler flocks were accompanied by wintering Seicercus soror, a recently described species that has a very distinct vocalization.

Other species included: Moustached and Blue-eared Barbet, Wreathed Hornbill, Red-headed Trogon, Drongo Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Long-tailed Broadbill (common), Blue-winged Leafbird, Ashy and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-naped Oriole, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Large Woodshrike, Scarlet Minivet, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher, White-throated Rock Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush (ssp. philippensis, around ruins), Asian Brown, Verditer and Red-throated Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, Common Myna, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Black-crested and Stripe-throated Bulbul, Ochraceous and Gray-eyed Bulbul, Yellow-browed and Arctic Warbler, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Eastern Crowned and Blyth's Leaf Warbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Streaked Wren-Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Little Spiderhunter, Black-throated Sunbird and Olive-backed Pipit.

Some birds were heard only, such as Collared Owlet, Mountain Scops Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar and Dark-necked Tailorbird.

Kompong Thom
26 Feb

The town of Kompong Thom, roughly halfway between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in the midst of Cambodia's agricultural belt, is an excellent starting point or end point for the Preah Vihear leg of your trip. But you should definitely not forget to consider stopping over for a day or – preferably – two, since the cultivated land around this town has some good species on offer, not least one of the only accessible populations of Bengal Florican and a wintering population of the elusive Manchurian Reed Warbler.

The terrain is vast on the plains around Kompong Thom, and to stand a chance of finding these very special birds, you will need to hook up with a local contact. WCS have a Florican conservation project and can organise guides. Their email address is wcs.florican.at.everyday.com.kh. The guides can take you around by motorbike, and have a thorough knowledge of where to find both the florican and the warbler.

Birds: Besides one to two male Bengal Floricans, the florican site that I was taken to also held Pied Harrier and Eastern Marsh Harrier, and a few wetlands and scrub-dotted fields en route produced some excellent species, such as Asian Golden Weaver, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Red Avadavat, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Black-browed and Oriental Reed Warbler, Cinnamon and Yellow Bittern, Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat, both Common and Pintail Snipe as well as a distant Aquila (probably Greater Spotted Eagle).

In the afternoon, we went to some extensive reeds and wetlands (a female Japanese Sparrowhawk en route), where Manchurian Reed Warblers were pretty hard to find among myriad Black-broweds. Reed warblers here are very confusing until you figure out their vocalizations: Black-browed sometimes utters a tchuck-like call (similar to its description in the guide) but this can be extended to a short "trt", whereas Manchurians exclusively give a long rasping "churr" and don't quite seem to like coming out in the lower reedy and sedgy vegetation (though this statement is only based on an afternoon's worth of field experience). That same general area also yielded Streaked Weavers, a Rusty-rumped Warbler and several good birds already seen in the morning.

I had only one day to spare, so the WCS guide suggested a visit to the florican site first thing in the morning and a visit to the warbler site in the afternoon, but you may want to do it the other way around or – alternatively – stay for two mornings, because I only had a quick glimpse of one calling Manchurian Reed Warbler late in the afternoon. It must be a lot easier to find them in the mornings.

Other birds, some of them common, others quite noteworthy, included: Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Common Kingfisher, Spotted Dove, Green Sandpiper, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black Kite (ssp. lineatus), Brahminy Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, Little and Cattle Egret, Gray and Purple Heron, Black Drongo, Large-billed Crow, Pied Fantail, Siberian Stonechat, Asian Pied Starling, White-vented and Common Myna, Bank and Barn Swallow, Yellow-bellied and Plain Prinia, Striated Grassbird, Dusky Warbler, Richard's and Red-throated Pipit, Yellow Wagtail (ssp. macronyx), Tree Sparrow, Scaly-breasted Munia and Bright-headed Cisticola.

TRIP LIST

SS = Samut Sakhon (near Bangkok), PT = Prek Toal (at Ton Le Sap Lake), TB = Tmat Baui (near Tbeng Meanchey), Ch = Chheb/Chaepp, SP = Siem Pang (incl. boat trip from Stung Treng), Bk = Bokor National Park, KT = Kompong Thom Area

  1. Little Grebe – Tachybaptus ruficollis: SS
  2. Chestnut-headed Partridge – Arborophila cambodiana: Bk 2
  3. Chinese Francolin – Francolinus pintadeanus: Tbeng Meanchey, TB
  4. Red Junglefowl – Gallus gallus: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, Ch, SP
  5. Gray-capped Pygmy Woodpecker – Dendrocopos canicapillus: TB,Ch, SP
  6. Rufous-bellied Woodpecker – Dendrocopos hyperythrus: SP 1
  7. White-bellied Woodpecker – Dryocopus javensis: TB, Ch, SP
  8. Lesser Yellownape – Picus chlorolophus: Ch
  9. Streak-throated Woodpecker – Picus xanthopygaeus: Ch, SP 1
  10. Black-headed Woodpecker – Picus erythropygius: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, Ch, SP
  11. Gray-headed Woodpecker – Picus canus: Ch
  12. Great Slaty Woodpecker – Mulleripicus pulverulentus: Ch, SP
  13. Common Flameback – Dinopium javanense: TB, Ch, SP
  14. Greater Flameback – Chrysocolaptes lucidus: Ch, SP
  15. Rufous Woodpecker – Celeus brachyurus: Ch, SP
  16. Lineated Barbet – Megalaima lineata: TB, Ch, SP
  17. Moustached Barbet – Megalaima incognita: Bk
  18. Blue-eared Barbet – Megalaima australis: Bk
  19. Coppersmith Barbet – Megalaima haemacephala: TB
  20. Oriental Pied Hornbill – Anthracocerus albirostris albirostris: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, Ch
  21. Wreathed Hornbill – Aceros undulatus: Bk
  22. Red-headed Trogon – Harpactes erythrocephalus: Bk
  23. Indian Roller – Coracias benghalensis: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, Ch, SP
  24. Dollarbird – Eurystomus orientalis: TB
  25. Hoopoe – Upupa epops: TB,Ch, SP
  26. Blue-tailed Bee-eater – Merops philippinus: PT, KT
  27. Green Bee-eater – Merops orientalis: TB, Ch, SP
  28. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater – Merops leschenaultia: TB, Ch, SP
  29. Common Kingfisher – Alcedo atthis: PT, SP, KT
  30. Black-capped Kingfisher – Halcyon pileata: SS, PT, SP
  31. Stork-billed Kingfisher – Halcyon capensis: TB, SP
  32. White-throated Kingfisher – Halcyon smyrnensis: PT
  33. Collared Kingfisher – Todyramphus chloris: SS
  34. Blossom-headed Parakeet – Psittacula roseata: TB, Ch, SP
  35. Red-breasted Parakeet – Psittacula alexandri: TB, Ch, SP
  36. Alexandrine Parakeet – Psittacula eupatria: TB, SP
  37. Vernal Hanging-Parrot – Loriculus vernalis: TB, SP
  38. Indian Cuckoo – Cuculus micropterus: SP
  39. Asian Emerald Cuckoo – Chrysococcyx maculatus: Ch
  40. Drongo Cuckoo – Surniculus lugubris: Bk
  41. Asian Koel – Eudynamys scolopaea: SS, SP
  42. Greater Coucal – Centropus sinensis: Ch, SP
  43. Green-billed Malkoha – Phaenicophaeus tristis: PT, Ch, SP, Bk
  44. Mountain Imperial Pigeon – Ducula badia: Bk
  45. Thick-billed Green Pigeon – Treron curvirostra: Bk
  46. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon – Treron phoenicoptera: SP
  47. Barred Cuckoo-Dove – Macropygia unchall: Bk
  48. Spotted Dove – Streptopelia chinensis: SS, Tbeng Meanchey, TB, Ch, SP, KT
  49. Red Collared Dove – Streptopelia tranquebarica: TB, SP
  50. Emerald Dove – Chalcophaps indica: Tbeng Meanchey, Ch
  51. Asian Barred Owlet – Glaucidium cuculoides: SP
  52. Spotted Owlet – Athene brama: SP
  53. Brown Hawk Owl – Ninox scutulata: SP
  54. Brown-backed Needletail – Hirundapus giganteus: TB
  55. Asian Palm Swift – Cypsiurus balasiensis: Tbeng Meanchey, TB
  56. Crested Treeswift – Hemiprocne coronata: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, Ch, SP
  57. Bengal Florican – Eupodotis benghalensis: KT 1,0
  58. Slaty-breasted Rail – Gallirallus striatus: SS
  59. Ruddy-breasted Crake – Porzana fusca: SS, KT
  60. White-breasted Waterhen – Amaurornis phoenicurus: SP
  61. Purple Swamphen – Porphyrio porphyrio: PT
  62. Common Moorhen – Gallinula chloropus: PT
  63. Pintail Snipe – Gallinago stenura: KT
  64. Common Snipe – Gallinago gallinago: KT
  65. Marsh Sandpiper – Tringa stagnatilis: SS
  66. Greenshank – Tringa nebularia: SS, SP
  67. Wood Sandpiper – Tringa glareola: SS
  68. Green Sandpiper – Tringa ochropus: SP, KT
  69. Common Sandpiper – Actitis hypoleucos: SS, SP
  70. Spoon-billed Sandpiper – Calidris pygmeus: SS 1
  71. Red-necked Stint – Calidris ruficollis: SS
  72. Long-toed Stint – Calidris subminuta: SS
  73. Broad-billed Sandpiper – Limicola falcinellus: SS
  74. Curlew Sandpiper – Calidris ferruginea: SS
  75. Black-winged Stilt – Himantopus himantopus: SS
  76. Great Thick-knee – Esacus recurvirostris: SP
  77. Eurasian Thick-knee – Burhinus oedicnemus: SP
  78. Little Ringed Plover – Charadrius dubius: SS, SP
  79. Kentish Plover – Charadrius alexandrinus: SS
  80. Lesser Sand Plover – Charadrius mongolus: SS
  81. Pacific Golden Plover – Pluvialis fulva: SS
  82. Red-wattled Lapwing – Vanellus indicus: Ch, SP, KT
  83. River Lapwing – Vanellus duvaucelii: SP
  84. Small Pratincole – Glarerola lactea: SP
  85. Brown-headed Gull – Larus brunnicephalus: SS, PT
  86. Caspian Tern – Sterna caspia: SS, SP
  87. River Tern – Sterna aurantia: SP
  88. Little Tern – Sterna albifrons: SS
  89. Whiskered Tern – Chlidonias hybridus: PT
  90. Osprey – Pandion haliaeetus: SP
  91. Black Kite – Milvus migrans lineatus: SS, KT
  92. Brahminy Kite – Haliastur indus: TB, SP, KT
  93. Crested Serpent-eagle – Spilornis cheela: TB, Ch, SP
  94. Gray-headed Fish Eagle – Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus: PT
  95. Black Baza – Aviceda leuphotes: SP
  96. Black-shouldered Kite – Elanus caeruleus: SS, TB, KT
  97. Eastern Marsh Harrier – Circus spilonotus: KT
  98. Pied Harrier – Circus melanoleucos: KT
  99. Shikra – Accipiter badius: TB, SP
  100. Japanese Sparrowhawk – Accipiter gularis: KT 0,1
  101. Rufous-winged Buzzard – Butastur liventer: TB, Ch, SP
  102. Oriental Honey-Buzzard – Pernis ptilorhychus: TB, SP
  103. White-rumped Falcon – Polihierax insignis: SP 1,0
  104. Collared Falconet – Microhierax caerulescens: SP 1
  105. Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, SP, KT
  106. Little Egret – Egretta garzetta: SS, PT, SP, KT
  107. Gray Heron – Ardea cinerea: SS, PT, SP, KT
  108. Purple Heron – Ardea purpurea: SS, PT, KT
  109. Great Egret – Casmerodius albus: SS, PT
  110. Intermediate Egret – Mesophoyx intermedia: SS, PT
  111. Little Heron – Butorides striatus: SS, PT, SP
  112. Black-crowned Night Heron – Nycticorax nycticorax: SS, PT
  113. Yellow Bittern – Ixobrychus sinensis: PT, KT
  114. Cinnamon Bittern – Ixobrychus cinnamomeus: KT
  115. Little Cormorant – Phalacrocorax niger: SS, PT
  116. Indian Cormorant – Phalacrocorax fuscicollis: PT
  117. Great Cormorant – Phalacrocorax carbo: PT
  118. Darter – Anhinga melanogaster: PT
  119. Black-headed Ibis – Threskiornis melanocephalus: PT
  120. White-shouldered Ibis – Pseudibis davisoni: TB 2, SP 1-2
  121. Giant Ibis – Pseudibis gigantea: TB 1
  122. Spot-billed Pelican – Pelecanus philippensis: PT
  123. Milky Stork – Mycteria cinerea: PT 2
  124. Painted Stork – Mycteria leucocephala: PT
  125. Woolly-necked Stork – Ciconia episcopus: TB, SP
  126. Asian Openbill – Anastomus oscitans: PT
  127. Black-necked Stork – Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus: TB 1
  128. Lesser Adjutant – Leptoptilos javanicus: PT, SP 1-2
  129. Greater Adjutant – Leptoptilos dubius: PT 4
  130. Long-tailed Broadill – Psarisomus dalhousiae: Bk
  131. Asian Fairy Bluebird – Irena puella: Bk
  132. Blue-winged Leafbird – Chloropsis cochinchinensis: Bk
  133. Golden-fronted Leafbird – Chloropsis aurifrons: TB, Ch, SP
  134. Burmese Shrike – Lanius collurioides: TB, SP
  135. Brown Shrike – Lanius cristatus: SP
  136. Large-billed Crow – Corvus macrorhynchos: SS, PT, TB, Ch, SP, KT
  137. Red-billed Blue Magpie – Urocissa erythrorhyncha: TB, Ch, SP
  138. Indochinese Green Magpie – Cissa hypoleuca: Bk
  139. Rufous Treepie – Dendrocitta vagabunda: TB, Ch, SP
  140. Racket-tailed Treepie – Crypsirina temia: SP
  141. Black Drongo – Dicrurus macrocercus: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, SP, KT
  142. Ashy Drongo – Dicrurus leucophaeus: TB, Ch, SP, Bk
  143. Crow-billed Drongo – Dicrurus annectans: SP
  144. Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo – Dicrurus remifer: Bk
  145. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo – Dicrurus paradiseus: TB, Ch, SP
  146. Spangled Drongo – Dicrurus hottentottus: TB, Ch
  147. Black-hooded Oriole – Oriolus xanthornus: TB, Ch, SP
  148. Black-naped Oriole – Oriolus chinensis: Ch, Bk
  149. Silver Oriole – Oriolus mellianus: Bk 1,0
  150. Common Iora – Aegithina tiphia: TB, Ch, SP
  151. Large Cuckooshrike – Coracina macei: TB, Ch, SP
  152. Indochinese Cuckooshrike – Coracina polioptera: TB, Ch, SP
  153. Black-winged Cuckooshrike – Coracina melaschistos: Bk
  154. Common Woodshrike – Tephrodornis pondicerianus: TB, Ch, SP
  155. Large Woodshrike – Tephrodornis gularis: Ch, SP, Bk
  156. Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike – Hemipus picatus: TB, Ch, SP, Bk
  157. Rosy Minivet – Pericrocotus roseus: Ch
  158. Swinhoe's Minivet – Pericrocotus cantonensis: Ch, Bk
  159. Small Minivet – Pericrocotus cinnamomeus: TB, Ch, SP
  160. Scarlet Minivet – Pericrocotus flammeus: TB, Ch, Bk
  161. Asian Paradise-Flycatcher – Terpsiphone paradisi: Bk
  162. Black-naped Monarch – Hypothymis azurea: Bk
  163. Pied Fantail – Rhipidura javanica: SS, KT
  164. White-browed Fantail – Rhipidura aureola: Ch, SP
  165. White-throated Rock Thrush – Monticola gularis: Bk
  166. Blue Rock Thrush – Monticola solitarius philippensis: Bk
  167. Orange-headed Thrush – Zoothera citrina: Bk
  168. Scaly Thrush – Zoothera dauma: TB
  169. Asian Brown Flycatcher – Muscicapa dauurica: TB, Ch, SP, Bk
  170. Red-throated Flycatcher – Ficedula parva albicollis: TB, SP, Bk
  171. Mugimaki Flycatcher – Ficedula mugimaki: Bk
  172. Verditer Flycatcher – Eumyias thalassina: SP, Bk
  173. Bluethroat – Luscinia svecica: KT
  174. Siberian Rubythroat – Luscinia calliope: KT
  175. Siberian Blue Robin – Luscinia cyane: Bk
  176. White-rumped Shama – Copsychus malabaricus: TB
  177. Oriental Magpie Robin – Copsychus saularis: SS, PT, Tbeng Meanchey, SP
  178. Pied Bushchat – Saxicola caprate: Tbeng Meanchey, TB, SP
  179. Siberian Stonechat – Saxicola maura: TB, SP, KT
  180. Chestnut-tailed Starling – Sturnus malabaricus: TB
  181. Black-collared Starling – Sturnus nigricollis: TB, Ch, SP
  182. Vinous-breasted Starling – Sturnus burmannicus: TB, SP
  183. Asian Pied Starling – Sturnus contra: SS, TB, SP, KT
  184. Common Myna – Acridotheres tristis: SS, PT, Tbeng Meanchey, TB, SP, Bk, KT
  185. White-vented Myna – Acridotheres grandis: SS, PT, SP, KT
  186. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch – Sitta frontalis: TB, Ch, SP, Bk
  187. Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch – Sitta castanea: SP
  188. Great Tit – Parus major: TB, Ch. SP
  189. Sand Martin – Riparia riparia: PT, KT
  190. Red-rumped Swallow – Hirundo daurica: TB
  191. Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica: PT, Tbeng Meanchey, SP, KT
  192. Black-crested Bulbul – Pycnonotus melanicterus: Tbeng Meanchey, Bk
  193. Stripe-throated Bulbul – Pycnonotus finlaysoni: Bk
  194. Sooty-headed Bulbul – Pycnonotus aurigaster: TB, Ch, SP
  195. Streak-eared Bulbul – Pycnonotus blanfordi: TB, SP
  196. Ochraceous Bulbul – Alophoixus ochraceus: Bk
  197. Gray-eyed Bulbul – Iole propinqua: Bk
  198. Black Bulbul – Hypsipetes leucocephalus: TB
  199. Brown Prinia – Prinia polychroa: TB, SP
  200. Rufescent Prinia – Prinia rufescens: TB, SP
  201. Gray-breasted Prinia – Prinia hodgsonii: TB, Ch
  202. Plain Prinia – Prinia inornata: SS, TB, KT
  203. Yellow-bellied Prinia – Prinia flaviventris: KT
  204. Zitting Cisticola – Cisticola juncidis: SS
  205. Bright-headed Cisticola – Cisticola exilis: KT
  206. Rusty-rumped Warbler – Locustella certhiola: KT
  207. Black-browed Reed Warbler – Acrocephalus bistrigiceps: KT
  208. Oriental Reed Warbler – Acrocephalus orientalis: KT
  209. Manchurian Reed Warbler – Acrocephalus tangorum: KT
  210. Striated Grassbird – Megalurus palustris: KT
  211. Dusky Warbler – Phylloscopus fuscatus: PT, KT
  212. Radde's Warbler – Phylloscopus schwarzi: TB, SP
  213. Yellow-browed Warbler – Phylloscopus inornatus: TB, SP, Bk
  214. Arctic Warbler – Phylloscopus borealis: Bk
  215. Pale-legged Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus tenellipes: Bk
  216. Eastern Crowned Warbler – Phylloscopus coronatus: Bk
  217. Two-barred Warbler – Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus: TB, SP
  218. Blyth's Leaf Warbler – Phylloscopus reguloides: Bk
  219. Sulphur-breasted Warbler – Phylloscopus ricketti: Bk
  220. Plain-tailed Warbler – Seicercus soror: Bk
  221. White-crested Laughingthrush – Garrulax leucolophus: TB, SP
  222. Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush – Garrulax monileger: Ch, Bk
  223. Puff-throated Babbler – Pellorneum ruficeps: Bk
  224. White-browed Scimitar-Babbler – Pomatorhinus schisticeps: Bk
  225. Streaked Wren-Babbler – Napothera brevicaudata: Bk
  226. Striped Tit-Babbler – Macronous gularis: Bk
  227. White-bellied Erpornis – Erpornis zantholeuca: Bk
  228. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker – Dicaeum cruentatum: TB, SP
  229. Yellow-vented Flowerpecker – Dicaeum chrysorheum: SP
  230. Purple Sunbird – Nectarinia asiatica: TB, Ch, SP
  231. Olive-backed Sunbird – Nectarinia jugularis: Ch, SP
  232. Black-throated Sunbird – Aethopyga saturata: Bk
  233. Little Spiderhunter – Arachnothera longirostra: Bk
  234. Tree Sparrow – Passer montanus: SS, PT, KT
  235. Plain-backed Sparrow – Passer flaveolus: TB, SP
  236. Streaked Weaver – Ploceus manyar: KT
  237. Asian Golden Weaver – Ploceus hypoxanthus: KT
  238. Scaly-breasted Munia – Lonchura punctulata: TB, KT
  239. Red Avadavat – Amandava amandava: KT
  240. Mekong Wagtail – Motacilla samveasnae: SP
  241. White Wagtail – Motacilla alba leucopsis: SP
  242. Yellow Wagtail – Motacilla flava macronyx: SS, PT, KT
  243. Paddyfield Pipit – Anthus rufulus: SS
  244. Richard's Pipit – Anthus richardi: TB, SP, KT
  245. Red-throated Pipit – Anthus cervinus: KT
  246. Olive-backed Pipit – Anthus hodgsoni: TB, SP, Bk
  247. Indochinese Bushlark – Mirafra marionae: TB, SP
  248. Yellow-breasted Bunting – Emberiza aureola: KT

Heard Only:

  1. Banded Bay Cuckoo – Cacomantis sonneratii: TB
  2. Collared Owlet – Glaucidium brodiei: Bk
  3. Mountain Scops Owl – Otus spilocephalus: Bk
  4. Large-tailed Nightjar – Caprimulgus macrurus: Bk
  5. Dark-necked Tailorbird – Orthotomus atrogularis: Bk


Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall