Sunday, January 26, 2014

Black-headed Bulbul grey morph at Angkor Wat

25 January 2012

Sophoan (of SVC) and I and three special guests were watching a fruiting tree just outside Ta Phrom around noon. I was enjoying an obliging Blue Rock Thrush of the scarcer and rather good looking philipensis taxon when Sophoan declared that she had a bird that she could not identify! Hearing those words I knew it had to be something good, and it was: a grey morph Black-headed Bulbul!

I've only seen one of these birds before, a very brief view at Santuk (Kompong Thom) in October 2012. Incredibly, we saw at least 3 or 4 together in the fruiting tree, and this time I managed some poor quality photographs.

Based on the pattern of black-tipped tail feathers this is a different individual to the one in the first photograph. 

I'm not sure about this one, but the tail pattern indicates that it might be a third bird. 

I can only find a handful of photos of these grey morph birds on the web, three from Assam, India, and one from Thailand. For a species which is common and easy to photograph this really is a very small number. I have not heard of any reports of more than one bird seen together, nor of any other records from Cambodia. HBW says "Grey morph was once locally fairly common in NE India, and remains regular in Java; it is commonest morph on Bawean I, and only morph on Maratua I." Actually, the birds on Maratua Island are completely grey, quite unlike the 'grey morph' birds, check out these:

If you've ever seen this morph, anywhere in Asia, I'd be interested to know - leave a comment at the end of the page.

Simon Mahood

Eurasian Wryneck resighting

The wryneck is still hanging around at Prek Ksach!

Here's a picture of two Blue-tails content enough to remain seated


Monday, January 20, 2014

Yellow-breasted bunting(s)

A visit to the (former?) golden weaver lake just south of Kratie on 11-12 Jan pm produced a surprise. At least 250 yellow-breasted bunting going to roost in grassland south of the lakes main dyke.
The bunting were observed from c. 17h10 on both evenings and came into roost in numerous waves.
Recently up-listed to Endangered, on the basis of rapid declines, this record may represent the largest flock recorded of the species in Indochina in recent years! Worryingly there were signs of fishing nets set to catch passerines in the area though none seemed active.
Back in 2005 I’d regularly see 25+ bunting a day in the Kompong Thom florican grasslands but (per Si Mahood) there have been very few recent records from these sites.
Also around the area (no weaver) but 5+ red avadavat, chestnut-winged cuckoo plus expected wetland birds (spot-billed duck, 3 kingfisher spp., loads of barn & red-rumpled swallow, purple gallinule).

A quick trip down the Mekong (Stung Treng to Sambor) produced the expected – 100s of small pratincole, river lapwing, great thicknee, Mekong wagtail, lesser adjutant, wooly-necked stork, grey-headed fisheagle. Not many rivers left in south-east Asia where you can still see such a collection of species with minimal effort!

Tom Gray

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Plovers and other birds at Anlung Pring and Boeung Prek Lapouv

In a recent trip to Anlung Pring there were several species of plover foraging on a mudflat. The plover shown below is confusing. It's legs seem to orangey for Little Ringed. However, it's bill is too long and slender for a Common Ringed Plover. Some people I contacted said CRP others LRP.

In the Oriental Bird Club Image database the closest picture is the following which is of a Little Ringed.

Final conclusion: Little Ringed Plover with orangey legs

Below a picture of a Kentish Plover that was feeding in the same area. This bird was also ID'd as such by another birder.

Also at Anlung Pring were what I estimate to be 500-600 Garganeys. A week later in Boeung Prek Lapouv there were what must have been over one thousand. From far we saw a wheeling flock of what I thought must be shorebirds, but on closer inspection they proved to be Garganeys. Water levels are unusually high this winter.

Further notable records (personal opinion) :
- 29 Sarus Cranes at AP and perhaps over two hundred at BPL (I didn't do a complete count as there were many small groups scattered around the site)
- What I believe were 9 White-shouldered Starlings fly by at AP
- 2 Black-winged Stilts at AP and a flock of around 15 seen at BPL
- 12 Black-tailed Godwits at AP
- Around three hundred Painted Storks at BPL
- At least thirty Black-headed Ibis at BPL
- Over fifty Asian Openbills at BPL
- 6 Comb Ducks at BPL

BPL is very good for waders this year. There was a lot of burning last year and the site is much more open and coupled with the high water is suppressing vegetation growth. Didn't get a chance to really go birdwatching here, as I rarely do. If someone is interested in covering this site well soon I'm sure it will be both productive and interesting! 

Robert van Zalinge

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Assorted late autumn birding 2013

Assorted sites in and close to Phonm Penh late 2013

Shamefully, I (Simon Mahood) went birding and didn't blog about it. To rectify this tragic situation here are some photos of birds wot I sawed.

The first lot are a bunch of pictures of a female Stonechat at Prek Ksach. Probably because I wasn't forcing myself to count the birds I failed to really notice anything else on this occasion. However it was a beautiful fresh day, sunshine and bright colours, as the photos illustrate. Of course they aren't sharp, but they give a feel for just what a great day it was to be wandering around a construction site.

Most week-days Sarah and I take Zeke the dog down to Koh Pich, in Phnom Penh, so that he can swim in the Mekong and run in the sand before we go to work. This has resulted in remarkably few birds of note, although I once saw Chestnut-capped Babbler. There's usually a few Oriental Reed-warblers around, looking really big.

During the early winter I recorded a Blue Rock Thrush once and a Stonechat once, although prinias, like this Yellow-bellied, are the more usual fare.


Prek Ksach

Prek Ksach 12 January 2014

Sarah and I took Zeke the dog to Prek Ksach to do an AWC count. As always when you force yourself to count things, you find that there were more things than you would have thought otherwise, testament to how much you ignore when not forced to identify everything. There's a clear message in there somewhere, something about trying so hard to find the wood that you fail to notice the trees, when its the trees that make birding enjoyable when there isn't any wood to be found, conversely the wood might actually be in the trees, so it's always worth paying them close attention. Anyway, it was much more enjoyable than Oudong (which had neither wood nor trees), but that's not saying much.

Purple Gallinule 4
Grey Heron 10
Oriental Darter 7
Bronze-winged Jacana 33
Pheasant-tailed Jacana 42
Cotton Pygmy Goose 225
Pond Heron sp 7
Snipe sp 1
Lesser Whistling Duck 72
Moorhen 10
Osprey 2 (my first record for the site)
Little Cormorant 10
Purple Heron 3
Spot-billed Duck 2
Watercock 1 female
Great White Egret 1
Gargany 7
Little Grebe 6
Great Cormorant 18
Cinnamon Bittern 1
Barred Buttonquail 3

Some Cambodian Tailorbirds were vocalising as the bulldozers destroyed the scrub and started filling my favorite lake with sand.

Here's some photos of one of the Ospreys and the Watercock.


Some rock-thrushes, and a few others

I spent Christmas at Koh Tmei, near (in?) Ream National Park. Assorted avian Christmas presents included lots of imperial green pigeons, a white-throated rock-thrush on migration, showing off nicely on the forest floor, and a Van Hasselt's sunbird, a bird that has long eluded me. My father thinks he saw pied imperial pigeons but I suspect he saw some Oriental pied hornbills from the backside, and got confused...

I came back home to Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri and found a blue rock-thrush, philippensis race, hanging about on the eaves of the house and nearby power lines. It's a rock-thrushy time of the year. Have also recently had some sightings of big birds surprisingly close to town--a pair of red-billed blue magpies at the Nomad office just below the airstrip, and a rufous treepie on the road to the Bunong farms just above my house.

Good birding to all,
Lisa Arensen

Monday, January 13, 2014



Ashish, Senglim and I (Simon Mahood) went to Oudong for Saturday morning (11 January 2014).

Ashish and I had seen a lot of Cambodian Tailorbirds there in October, but little else. On this day we saw few Cambodian Tailorbirds (either because most of them had moved back down to the floodplain or because they were vocalising less or because I should have got more sleep the previous night).

We also saw male and female White-throated Rock-thrush, Taiga Fly and 3 Asian Brown Fly, i.e. little else. The thrushes were very elusive and amounted to nothing more than glimpses, so this really all felt like some of the worst birding I've experienced in Cambodia.

Here is a dreadful photo of Cambodian Tailorbird to prove that they occur in proper trees on a small hill, not just in floodplain scrub (contra Mahood et al 2013).

If you are visiting Cambodia and want to see Cambodian Tailorbird then Oudong is the easiest place to find where the birds occur. Just get in a tuk tuk and ask to go to Oudong.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

White-browed Crake

Here's a picture of one of three White-browed Crakes seen at two different locations in Prek Ksach. Also both a Peregrine and a Common Kestrel were in the area, plus lots of warblers, including several Lanceolated. (Posted by Robert)