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


  1. Hi Tom. The Kruos Kraom area was better for YbB than the conservation areas, I believe. Do you agree? Perhaps that area needs checking if they still occur. If I recall correctly I encountered a flock of 100+ at least once and smaller groups were quite common around 2008/9 in this area. Regards, Robert.

  2. Hi Robert – yes the deep-water rice/scrub matrix of Kruos Kraom was where I saw more yellow-breasted bunting. Follow-up surveys in this area would be useful!

  3. At Kruos Kraom I would still see numbers totaling a few hundred up to a couple of years ago, depending on the water-levels.