Sunday, March 3, 2013

Phnom Khieu in Pailin

I had the chance to visit Phnom Khieu with a kru khmer friend (who is not yet a birder, but might become one) on February 26th, and bird from half past seven to noon. Below is my list, and below that a bit of information on the mountain. All of my photos were terrible, so I won't inflict them on you...

1. calling, great coucals (2)
2. greater racket-tailed drongo (7 or 8)
3. black drongo
4. stripe-throated bulbul
5. black-headed bulbul (2)
6. black-crested bulbul
7. green-billed malkoha (at least 6)
8. large niltava
9. pr. Asian brown flycatcher
10. red-rumped swallows
11. barn swallows
12. ochraceous or puff-throated bulbuls
13. scarlet minivet (2 pairs)
14. ashy minivets, small flock, 4-5
15. hill myna
16. leafbird, pr. blue-winged
17. oriental honey-buzzard, dark morph
18. verditer flycatcher (2)
19. grey wagtails
20. pr. buff-breasted babblers, small flock
21. pr. Taiga flycatcher in early breeding plumage
22. pr. crested goshawk (according to Rob, when I described the circling raptor's strange puffy white feathers at the top of its tail and vent)
Phnom Khieu, Green Mountain (literally, Blue Mountain, but blue and green are used interchangeably in Khmer) is just east of Pailin city along National Highway 57. The waterfalls that Khmer holidayers head towards are marked by a large billboard on the south side of the highway, and are 7.3 km from the dirt entrance road off the highway. There is a small entrance fee per vehicle and per foreigner. The dense mountain range Phnom Khieu is part of may well be the last large patch of forest around Pailin. Nearly all of the land along the national highway has been cleared of forest in the three years since my last visit to Pailin, mostly for cassava plantations. It is roughly a kilometre up an increasingly steep and winding road up the mountain from the resort's entrance--nearly all of our birding was done along this forested road, which falls away to valleys on the right and is crossed by streams twice before ascending to the Khmer resort, a restaurant and a series of wooden shelters along seven small waterfalls. A tempting footpath leads up the side of the mountain beyond this resort. The locals said it eventually leads to some artisanal gem mines. We took this path for about a kilometre up the mountain before returning to the springs. That said, I would not recommend birding along this path, as there is a strong possibility that landmines remain in the area. This region was under Ieng Sary's faction of the Khmer Rouge until the mid-1990s and landmines were used to hinder civilians attempting to reach the gem mines. I very much doubt that all the mines have been removed. If anyone wishes to wander this trail, I advise extreme caution--as in, never leaving the rocky path for any reason.

Good birding to all,
Lisa Arensen

1 comment:

  1. I took SVC guides there once in 2010 and we went to Kbal Ochra which south of Pailin city along banana plantation and Rambutant but I could not take them up the hill to see more birds as we heard because of landmines are still around. Where you go is correct as this hilly road heads Sam Lot district across Phnom Trob which Khmer used before mid 2000s. It will take you 1 night to get to Sam Lot if you walk slower and about 2km up from that resort you mentioned you'll see the Russian Mining company is looking for ruby and sapphire. It has more birds to see but I would not recommend this place to be a birding site at all!