17 Dec 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.


  1. Wonderful treeswift BIF John...........and I would just love to photograph Vultures too, I had no idea they were found in SE Asia.

  2. Not a bad three days. I wonder what Giant Ibis tastes like? ;-)

  3. These photos are again amazing! Thai birders often visit Cambodia to see the vultures and ibises too, but I still haven't been there. Seems like I need to make a visit soon. I love the Red-headed Vulture. In the first shot where it's kicking another vulture, the other one is actually a White-rumped Vulture, I believe. Slender-billed is much larger and with pale brownish plumage. Great treeswift shots in flight!

  4. Wonderful post. Every bird in tis post would be exciting to see. These are precious photos of the critical ones especially. I hope they become better protected from chemicals and deforestation.

  5. Hi John, sounds like an awesome trip! Great images, as usual. I love the Mekong Wagtail.. spectacular. And the Giant Ibis is a monster!

  6. Thanks everyone for your comments..... Ayuwat, you are probably right about the vulture ID too.

    Western Siem Pang certainly has a lot of potential for birding.....

  7. marvellous species info love the giant ibis and the white rumped falcon very informative great site also.