Showing posts with label Birding Cambodia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birding Cambodia. Show all posts

21 December 2011

Cambodia - Part III "Siem Reap and Angkor"

Heading south from Stung Treng, we had a short stop at Kratie for a boat trip to view a few of the rare river dolphins....

Siem Reap is the city that has grown up adjacent to the World Heritage Site of the ruined temples of Angkor.  The most famous individual historic monument is Angkor Wat - described locally as "the biggest religious monument in the world". 

And there are many other temples and ruins nearby - dating from the days of the Khmer empire which held sway in southeast asia from the 9th to the 14th centuries.

Visitors must get a pass to view the main temple area, US $20 for one day, $40 for three days, or $60 for seven days.  Tuk-tuks can be hired by the day or half-day.  There is accommodation for all tastes and budgets in Siem Reap and restaurants and bars as well.  Very touristy, but very pleasant. 

For serious birders, there is the Sam Veasna Centre in town, from where trips to northern Cambodia (Preah Vihear Province) for Giant Ibis and White-shouldered Ibis can be arranged.

But we'd already seen the endangered Ibises in Stung Treng Province, thanks to Birdlife international, so we mainly concentrated on the temples near Siem Reap.

It is actually a bit like a Treasure Hunt around the temples as hundreds of photographers trek around keenly looking for the perfect angle, or some overlooked fragment of stonework they can photograph.  The trouble with all the "great angles" is that thousands of photos of them have been taken already.  

Still, I'm not afraid of the odd photographic cliche, as regular readers will know !

"Hey, that Guy's taking the same shot as me !"

Palm Swift over Angkor Wat

Paddyfield Pipit, Angkor Wat

"Vertigo ? - It's a town in Italy, isn't it ?"

Some of the more atmospheric temples have  still not been fully cleared of the jungle that has grown up in and around them.  The presence of the trees means that there are a few birds to be seen as well.

Hill Myna, Banteay Kdei Temple

Black-headed Bulbul

Lineated Barbet

Black-naped Oriole, Banteay Kdei

Black-naped Oriole, Banteay Kdei

Red-breasted Parakeets, Angkor Wat

Some kind of funnel spider ?

This should be called a "Fire-tailed Skink"

Man-made habitat for Blue Rock Thrush

We really liked Cambodia - we'll go back !

17 December 2011

Cambodia - Part II "Giant Ibis"

Literally and metaphorically, Giant Ibis is the "Big One"; - the bird that visitors to the dry forests of Northern Cambodia have made the journey to see.

On the morning of our first full day in the Western Siem Pang "Proposed Protected Forest" we headed off to a trepeang (forest pool) about forty minutes from the guesthouse at Siem Pang town.
And yes, we were probably lucky, but there were no fewer than four of these almost-mythical birds foraging in the mud at the waters' edge.

Giant Ibis - Pseudibis gigantea

At the trepeang

Giant IbisPseudibis gigantea

The Birdlife Cambodia people operate a "Vulture Restaurant" with a hide overlooking it.  All three species of vulture to be seen - White-rumped, Long-billed and Red-headed - have become Critically Endangered due to the use of diclofenac (an anti-inflammatory drug) in cattle, especially in India which used to be the great vulture stronghold.

Red-headed Vulture - Sarcogyps calvus puts the boot into Long-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris

Red-headed Vultures - Sarcogyps calvus

Fine dining at the "Vulture Restaurant"

The "Vulture Restaurant" hide

During three full days in the forest near Siem Pang we found a number of other interesting birds, some of which are shown here:

White-rumped Falcon - Poiloheirax insignis

Crested Treeswift - Hemiprocne coronata

Lesser Adjutant - Leptoptilos javanicus

Yellow-crowned Woodpecker - Dendrocopos mahrattensis

Large-tailed Nightjar - Caprimulgus macrurus

Yellow-footed Green Pigeon - Treron phoenicoptera

On the evening of the third day we went back the "Giant Ibis pool", and even though the sun had set, we had decent views of four Giant Ibises again. (But I couldn't get more than one into a semi-decent shot !)

Giant Ibis  Pseudibis gigantea with Cattle Egrets Bubulculus ibis

Which pretty much set the seal on our short visit to this very special area, Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Forest.

11 December 2011

Cambodia – Part I - “Up the Mekong…”

In late November we joined a group of Hong Kong Bird Watching Society members on a trip to Cambodia, hosted by Mr Bou Vorsak and his Team from the Cambodia Office of Birdlife International in Indochina. They are aiming to establish an ecotourism service for Western Siem Pang, to bring income for site conservation there and to improve local livelihood.

Our birding began in earnest with an eight-hour boat trip between Stung Treng town and Siem Pang, along a tributary of the Mekong.  There were some noteworthy birds along the way, especially Mekong Wagtail, which was a “tick” for all of us visitors. 

Mekong Wagtail - Motacilla samveasnae

Some other images from the river journey below.

 Oriental Pied Hornbill -Anthraceros albirostris

Mekong Wagtail - Motacilla samveasnae

 Red-wattled Lapwing - Vanellus indicus

 Green Bee-eater - Merops orientalis

 River Lapwing - Vanellus duvaucelli

 Stork-billed Kingfisher - Halcyon capensis

Wooly-necked Storks - Ciconia episcopus

After a brief settling-in to Siem Pang’s  Theamy guesthouse, we set off into the forested areas about half-an-hours’ drive from the town.  Birdlife’s 4WD pick-up was supplemented by three hired 4WDs.   Despite the rain in the late summer, we still kicked up plenty of dust.

I think everyone was tired, but motivated by the prospect of some exciting birding. We were soon rewarded with views of a Spotted Wood Owl, with hushed whispers as everyone peered through the foliage, and photographers tried to line up an unobstructed shot.

 Spotted Wood Owl - Strix seloputo

On the way back, our first flyover White-shouldered Ibis was the highlight of the day for me.  

White-shouldered Ibis - Pseudibis davisoni

As the light fell we saw a few more, and, as our hosts had told us,  it became obvious that this species likes to roost in  groups in bare trees.  We were able to ‘scope a distant group before the light faded completely.

 A day well and truly “seized” !