Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Mekong River birds

Boat trip on the Mekong River, 30/4-1/5

Took a boat trip on the river, starting in Stung Treng, to see some of Cambodia's most threatened resident birds, riverine species. It was a privilege to see a large portion of the River Tern population (6 adults) and see at least three juveniles, the hope of a future on the Mekong for these rare birds.

Adult above and juvenile below

We also came across a pair of Great Thicknees. Another very rare bird on the Mekong.

River Lapwing is another species who's population has declined on the Mekong. Around seven birds seen in different areas.

Other Mekong specialities seen:
- Mekong Wagtail (endemic), about 7 seen over the two days
- Small Pratincole, around 5 birds on a rock and at least one seen flying around one of the islands

Also a single Whiskered Tern in full breeding plumage.

Thanks to Andrea and Senglim for helping with this trip.

John Kennedy, Robert van Zalinge


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Climbed Phnum Aural with Stefan Harrison during Khmer New Year 13th-16th April 2016. Linked up with Mr. Chim- a local villager 0975033399 who takes tourists to the top. It was dry and Mr. Chim said he had never seen the forests so dry. Lower elevations it was hot, dry till we went above the 1st camp. We saw Asian fairy-bluebirds, Puff throated bulbuls, Green-billed malkohas, Grey-eyed bulbuls around the 1st camp. Black and Spangled drongos were also there with a few Greater-racket-tailed drongos.
Stefan saw a pair of Wreathed hornbills and a great hornbill on the way to the top. Wreathed was in the higher elevation after the difficult part of the climb. At the second camp Stefan saw a Common hawk-cuckoo. Next morning waited at the waterhole (6 am) and saw the Blue pitta, a brief glimpse of Chestnut-headed partridge. A pair of Mountain-bulbuls and a White-throated fantail gave us away so left the water hole around 8 am. We could hear Blue pittas calling. Stefan climbed up to the Wat at the peak while I stayed lower trying to photograph the partridges and laughingthrush. I was playing the partridge call and this attracted an accipeter that flew in stealthily, but no answering call from the partridges. The thick litter of dry leaves made approaching the partridges difficult, I flushed several but approaching for photos was difficult. Stefan also saw White-throated needle tails at the wat. In the evening waited on the other stream with flowing water which was good. A lot of birds came including White-tailed robins, Blue-whistling thrush. Other small birds also came but could not see due to our position. It is important to take a hide next time.
Some photos from the trip.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Bakan floodplain ricefields

29-30 March 2016

I visited the Bakan floodplain ricefields on 29th afternoon and 30th morning. The morning visit produced best results. Parked the car just beyond the last houses, where the floodplain starts (there were two shelters where I parked). Area to the east of the track seemed most productive. Highlights were:

- Large scattered flocks of Yellow-breasted Bunting (estimate around 50 birds)
- Rufous-rumped Grassbird/Babbler

- Manchurian Reed Warbler (probably 2 birds, both in woody vegetation: scrub in hedgerow and at base of tree)

Thanks to Simon Mahood for also considering warbler identification before inclusion here.

Traditional seasonal rice farming in the Tonle Sap floodplain is rich in biodiversity and deserves conserving.

Robert van Zalinge

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Koh (Ach) Seh, near Kep

Spent 24-28 February at Koh Seh (Horse Island), off the coast of Kep and just past Koh Tonsai (Rabbit Island). Apparently there are two Koh Sehs in Cambodia, and the official name of the one I visited is actually Koh Ach Seh which apparently means Horse Shit Island. It's a small island and is where the NGO Marine Conservation Cambodia is based. I recorded the following bird species there:

Collared Kingfisher
Greater Coucal
Blue-tailed Bee-Eater
[Germaine's] Swiftlet
Large-tailed Nightjar
Pied Fantail
Mangrove Whistler
Orange-headed Thrush
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Hainan Blue Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie Robin
Oriental White-Eye (I'm assuming Oriental because of range and also they had fairly yellow heads and backs, although they seemed to be lacking the yellow ventral stripe shown in Robson)
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Arctic Warbler

-Andrea Claassen

Sunday, February 28, 2016

More Bokor birding

Bokor, 27 February

A one day visit, but one which was extremely productive. What is the partridge trail is still not clear to me, but the trail we found last time resulted in several encounters with partridges on this day. One or two pairs were foraging near the trail. Also spent time in the early afternoon on the "exercise trail" which turned out to be well worth the time.

Trail starting in large clearing past waterfall:
- Chestnut-headed Partridges. Black on flanks is more prominent than illustrated.

Exercise trail:
- Silver Pheasant. Two males that seemed to be in a non-violent dispute. Following each other closely and making a variety of growls. One male seen raising crest. Four females following. All crossed the trail at a leisurely pace and seemed completely unconcerned by our presence.
- Blue Pitta. Several responses. One seen.
- White's/Scaly Thrush. A very big thrush! Palish head. Large, but scattered, black markings below.
- Orange-headed Thrush. At same location (near the log stack/prescribed log lifting exercise!).
- Streaked Wren Babblers

In the clearing:
- Black Eagle. Yellow bill and legs, barring visible in tail. Hunting low over forest.

No hornbills seen this time round. Several forest fires could be seen at lower elevation from Kampot on both 26th and 27th.

Robert van Zalinge with John Kennedy.

We also met John Bowler and walked the clearing trail together in the morning. He then continued walking this trail until around 2 p.m. and when we met later he reported having seen mostly the same species as we did.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ban Lung, Ratanakiri

Spent some time in Ratanakiri in February. I stayed at Treetop Lodge for a few days and also spent the morning of 5 Feb birding around the perimeter of Yeak Laom Lake.

 Asian Koel
Greater Coucal
Red-breasted Parakeet
Asian Barred Owlet
Spotted Dove
Black-naped Oriole
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
White-throated Rock Thrush
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Red-throated Flycatcher
Pale Blue Flycatcher
White-rumped Shama
Black-crested Bulbul
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Dark-necked Tailorbird
Arctic Warbler
White-crested Laughingthrush
Little Spiderhunter
House Sparrow

Greater Yellownape
Laced Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker
Green-eared Barbet
Common Kingfisher
Banded Bay Cuckoo
Greater Coucal
Red-breasted Parakeet
Vernal Hanging Parrot
Asian Barred Owlet
Brown-backed Needletail
Crested Serpent Eagle
Common Iora
Black-naped Oriole
Ashy Drongo
Bronzed Drongo
Spangled Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
Red-throated Flycatcher
Hill Blue Flycatcher
Hill Myna
Barn Swallow
Black-headed Bulbul
Black-crested Bulbul
Dark-necked Tailorbird
Dusky Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
White-crested Laughingthrush
Striped Tit Babbler
Olive-backed Sunbird

--Andrea Claassen

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bokor Birding

Bokor Mountain, 21-23 November.

We focused on a specific trail looking for partridges, but they remained only heard in the distance. We did have some good montane specific and other interesting sightings though.

On the plateau:
- Himalayan Buzzard

- Grey-faced Buzzard

On the trail (all likely seen above 800m if plateau is 1000m):
- Streaked Wren Babblers (four birds at one location and some more slightly further along the path)
- Red-headed Trogon (a pair)
- Siberian Blue Robin (both male and female)
- Orange-headed Thrush
- Great and Wreathed Hornbills (GH on upper part of trail and at least 12 individuals; WH: one male with two females flying over clearing on plateau and also one pair much lower down along main road, perhaps around halfway up)
- Mountain Imperial Pigeons
- Barred Cuckoo Doves
- Plain-tailed Warblers
- White-browed Scimitar Babbler
- Black-throated Sunbird

Heard onlys (along trail):
- Chestnut-headed Partridges
- Silver-breasted Broadbill
- Long-tailed Broadbill
- Barbets (Moustached/Blue-eared)

Also several unidentified snipes and a single pipit flying overhead in a large vegetated clearing on the plateau. Many pitcher plants there too.

It seemed like the housing development on the plateau has stalled. Let's hope the stop is permanent!

Intend to do more montane birding in Cambodia soon, also as a means to take a break from the coming heat.

Robert van Zalinge with John Kennedy