Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A visit to Cambodia (Part I)

Here are some noteworthy records and highlights of my birding visit to Cambodia.

Phnom Penh 26-29 March
Nothing to declare, apart that I found Red-collared Dove to be more present and conspicuous around
No migrant flycatchers around, at my great disappointment...

Prek Ksach (Ly Youngpat bridge) area, 28 March AM, with Howie Nielsen
Best finds amongst a good 61 species were a gorgeous Chestnut Munia and a starting colony of Asian Golden Weavers

Of interest also: the sandhill occupied by Small Pratincoles last year was covered with a pioneer shrub and very territorial (and thus strongly suspected to breed) Oriental Pratincoles.

Prolay grasslands, 29-30 March
10+ males and two females Bengal Floricans to start with the star-bird.
Asian Pied Starling parents with a juveniles.
Manchurian Reed Warbler apparently still present
And, of personal interest (lifer), numerous Small Buttonquails (how did I never see them before???)

Phnom Kraom, 1 April, with some Osmose staff & guides
A good diversity of birds (52 spp) but nothing really special.
An Himalayan-type Cuckoo, great view of Greater Painted-snipes, and Baya Weavers buzzing to prepare their nests.

Angkor Wat, east gate and forest, 3 April
Nice, quiet, beautiful but bird-poor early morning walk, only 15 spp.
Nicest were a male White-throated Rock-thrush and a Black Baza.
The guard reporting a large moat-landed bird lead to the discovery of a drying Oriental Darter, always a pleasing sight.

Trip and survey in Areng valley on 4-7 April, with Suy Senglim, Kongsang Ratanak, Howie Nielsen and Adrian Stoeger.
Complementary bird survey done at the request of the NGO Mother Nature, advocating against the planned dam (expected to flood 10,000 to 20,000 ha and displace 600 people). A great birder-photographer-sound recording team, producing 129 spp (only 53 previously recorded).
Conservation concern species included regular sightings of Great and Wreathed Hornbills, calls/sights of Green Peafowls, a Grey-headed and a Lesser Fish Eagle along the river, and a lone Oriental Darter. No finfoot guys, although we were close to the site of the previous records.

From a more birding/ornithological point of view, a fruiting tree had a festival of species, including a tantalizing flycatcher (cf Howie) and a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, several Black-and-red Broadbills preparing nest along the river, two appearances of Indochinese Green Magpie and much-appreciated female then male Blue-and-white Flycatchers.

Around Boeng Veal Samnap, 10 April AM, with Howie Nielsen
Taking the Naga ferry crossing and turning south failed to find access to the floodplain lake...
So motorbike-based bush-countryside birding was only partly satisfying, with consolations being crippling views of a Spotted Owlet, a single Chestnut-tailed Starling and two Ashy Wood Swallows building their nest in a palm tree.

Takeo town, 10 April PM, with Rob Overtoom
A quick evening visit at a pagoda and reservoir near town brought in various sightings of interest, namely: 1 tentative Peregrine Falcon in town, 10-15 Streaked Weavers nest-building in coconut and bamboo trees at Wat Tom and 8 Small Pratincoles at the reservoir.

Phnom Tamao, 11 April, with Rob Overtoom
A slow start but finally great birding morning with 56 spp recorded. Highlights were 2 Lesser Adjutants (yeah), calling Blue-winged Pittas and oddities such as 2 Vinous-breasted Starlings and a lone Hill Myna. Possible parakeets too... For Simon, the Cambodian Tailorbird was lured out of the forest as well as the bush near a lake.

Second part to come later, hoping I could upload some of Senglim, Ratanak and Rob's photos to decorate this boring text in the meantime...


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