On 17-20 February, Thomas, Lisa and Fredbaksey conducted an exploratory visit to the birder-neglected Svay Rieng province, as well as a few stops in adjacent Prey Veng province. We recorded just over 100 species and had some good finds. We ended up birding in nice pagoda groves, forested ancient temple, degraded scrub/grasslands and even unsuspected remnant of dry deciduous forest. All being small islands in a populated and cultivated landscape, with still a good deal of natural wetlands, such as the sprawling lake around Svay Rieng provincial town, where an Oriental Darter was at ease.
Recent colonists House Sparrows and Zebra Doves have, quite expectedly, largely invaded both provinces, but the widespread presence of Golden-bellied Gerygone was more surprising, and clearly linked with ubiquitous water-edged Eucalyptus plantations. Chestnut-tailed Starling was boldly nesting in a street lamp in central Svay Rieng town!
Bird of the trip was a very pleasing Large Hawk-cuckoo, showing itself in full exposure, front and back for a few minutes at the Prey Bassac temple. Other nice fellows there were Black Baza, a tentative Grey-faced Buzzard, and a calling Greater Flameback.
Spot-breasted Woodpecker was seen at two sites, and a lone Common Hill-Myna in a provincial town pagoda was an oddity. Indochinese Bushlark was also found at various places. Best relic forest, at the northern tip of the province, yielded Red-breasted Parakeets, Spotted and Asian Barred Owlet and a Flameback sp.
Nothing special amongst the waterbirds, just the classical cortege of waders, walkers and swimmers, apart perhaps that Collared Kingfisher was quite common.
Perhaps as revealing is what I expected to widely find and was not found at all: Jungle Crow, Red-wattled Lapwing, Shikra, harriers. Blue Rock-thrush was also a miss, only god knows why...
Several lifers for Lisa, one for Thomas and... I let you guess.