Sunday, December 23, 2012

More Small Pratincoles

This morning, 23 December, Howie Nielsen and I were at the ever changing Ly Yong Phat development over the Tonle Sap River north of Phnom Penh, aka Prek Ksach. 

Most interesting to me were the numbers of Small Pratincoles. On September 2 Simon Mahood, Rob Martin and I saw a single Small Pratincole sat on a large deposit of sand recently dredged from the river, at the far east of the development, and I was interested as it was the first I'd ever seen away from the major rivers. Today there were 36 in exactly the same place. I'm guessing this might be the same place mentioned by Robert van Zalinge in his Nov 18 blog post "although the 50 or so Small Pratincoles were still around on 18 Nov." How many did you see and exactly where and when Robert? These are certainly the largest numbers ever seen away from the rivers. I'm assuming these birds will soon return to the Mekong as the river drops, but I wonder if they might stick around and try to breed? We also checked the old River Lapwing site in the west, but that has now grown over quite a bit and those birds appear to have definitely gone.

Here is a link to a google map, with what is now the "pratincole sand-hill" marked as #1 if anybody else wants to check it out. And below from my snappy camera is a competitor for the worst photo ever placed on the blog, which shows a portion of the flock:

We also found a newly dyked area in the north-western part beyond the golf course that was good for waders, with 4 Wood Sand, 1 Green Sand and 2 Greenshank along with the Little Ringed Plovers and Common Sands. Another area worth checking again and marked on the map as #2 in case anybody is going.

There were just 6 Oriental Darters and some Little Cormorants in the usual roosting area (marked #3 on the map). I assume most are in back in Prek Toal and other breeding areas around the Tonle Sap by now, but it also looks like the scrub in the area is dying back and may not be so suitable for these birds for much longer. Other than that there was the usual cast of waterbirds around the site, including good numbers of Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas and an Osprey.
Colin Poole

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