Cambodia: 21st Jan – 6th February 2006   Jon Hornbuckle

I accepted an invitation by my friends Janos and Zoli to join them on a Vietnam clean-up trip, as we’d all been once before. I decided to visit Cambodia beforehand and was fortunate in being able to team up with Bram Demeulemeester and Edward Vercruysse for most of the Cambodia birding time, along with Andy Adcock for the Ibis section, so the whole trip worked out very well. I saw most of the birds I wanted, notably Giant and White-shouldered Ibises and Bengal Florican in Cambodia, and the magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat This is a brief report because I lost my notebook at the end of the trip, and although I still have my daily list of species seen, my memory is not so good these days.

Acknowledgements: many thanks to Vicheka Chea, Bram Demeulemeester, James Eaton, Tom Gray, Rob Hutchinson, Murray Lord, Rich Hopf, Edward Vercruysse and Joe Walston for help and advice.


This was my first visit to Cambodia. I was impressed by the friendliness of the people, and the lack of development and tourists, except at Siem Reap/Angkor Wat. Most of the vehicles on the roads seemed to belong to aid agencies, sorely needed I don’t doubt after a third of the population was wiped out by the Khmer Rouge. Land-mines are still said to be plentiful, although being cleared slowly – the survival of some lowland forest is doubtless due to their presence. Judging by the incredible speed of development in Vietnam, I’m sure Cambodia will change rapidly in the next decade. Let’s hope that current efforts to preserve the critical habitats for ibises and floricans are successful.

Key birds here are Giant and White-shouldered Ibises, Bengal Florican, Chestnut-headed Partridge, Mekong Wagtail and Cambodian Laughingthrush. They are all found at different sites, except the ibises which are in the same area and habitat. In my two weeks, I visited 4 of the 5 sites - not Mt Aural for the Cambodian Laughingthrush - and the incomparable Angkor Wat complex.

Visas can be obtained on arrival at Phnom Penh airport, costing $20 – need 1 or 2 photos. There are ATMs in PP,
 and probably Siem Reap, but not elsewhere. We rendezvoused at the Okay Guesthouse in Phnom Penh, 
conveniently located 5 min from the Royal Palace and 5 min from the river where the action is. It's a backpackers' 
hostel with a reasonable restaurant, bar, travel agency, internet room ($1 /hour) and accommodation to suit all 

Jan 22     Arrive Phnom Penh 14.40 on Bangkok Air from Bangkok. Meet Andy, Bram and Ward, night at Okay
Jan 23     Travel to Tbeany Mancheay, birding late afternoon.
Jan 24     Day at Tmatboey Ibis site.
Jan 25     Morning Tmatboey Ibis site, taxi back to Phnom Penh in afternoon.
Jan 26     Bus to Kratie, arriving late afternoon; motorbike to Mekong River.
Jan 27     Morning around Kratie, bus back to PP.
Jan 28     Bus to Kampot, taxi to Bokor NP.
Jan 29-30  Bokor NP
Jan 31     Morning in Bokor NP, taxi to PP.
Feb 1       Bus to Siem Reap, late afternoon at Angkor Wat.
Feb 2       Explore Angkor Wat and nearby area.
Feb 3      Morning around Angkor Wat, bus to Kompong Thom, afternoon at Kruos Kraom grasslands. O/n Arunas
              Guest House.
Feb 4       Morning in grasslands, afternoon there with Tom Gray.
Feb 5       Morning in grasslands, afternoon minibus to Phnom Penh, sight-seeing; Okay Guesthouse.
Feb 6       Bus ($6) to HCM City (Saigon), Vietnam; o/n Luon GH 
NOTES ON SITES          
The ibises are at Tmatboey Ibis Ecotourism Site, near Tbeany Mancheay in Preah Vihear Province in the North.
 A visit here can be arranged through the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in PP but they prefer you to go via
 Monsoon Tours who are responsible for organising logistics (hotels, transport, food, etc.) whilst WCS-trained local
 rangers do the bird guiding. Joe Walston is in charge: Country Program Director, WCS Cambodia, Phnom Penh IPO Box 1620, tel (855) 12 954257. Tom Clements is second in command and might agree to an independent visit if you wish to organise the logistics of getting there yourself, as we did. WCS rangers can arrange food and cooks. You need to hire a taxi or motorbike to get from Kompong Thom, which can be reached by bus from PP or Siem Reap. We were helped by Vani, one of the staff at the Tbeany Mancheay office, mobile number 012705733. Food and accommodation is cheap at the site, eg $10 a day, plus guide fees and a conservation payment to WCS of c$70 that goes directly to ibis conservation. The habitat is open dry dipterocarp forest with bamboo-lined creek-beds and small permanent waterholes (trapeang) where the ibises are usually found. The time to visit is late Jan to March when most trapeangs are dry. Other good birds here are Rufous-winged Buzzard, Collared Falconet, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Pale-capped Pigeon, and Black-headed and Great Slaty Woodpeckers. We saw one pair of Giant Ibis and 5 White-shouldered including one on the nest, on our one full day at the site.
Bengal Florican is readily seen in the grasslands near Kompong Thom. Stay at Arunas Guest House, and hire a 
motorbike to take you beyond Rolous village ($5 - 6). One knowledgeable driver is Sarom, who hangs about near the
 guesthouse or could be contacted on 012849003. I saw a female on my first afternoon, with Tom Gray, then saw 2
 males in flight several times on the next morning in the short scrubby terrain. Best time for views is 6.30-9.00 am 
and 4.30-6.00 pm. This is a good area with lots of birds including beautiful male Pied Harriers, Greater Spotted Eagle,
 Oriental Plover in Feb, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Manchurian Reed Warbler (which I found difficult, only seeing 1) 
and numerous Yellow-breasted Buntings.

Kratie on the banks of the Mekong River, a long bus journey from PP, is the site for Mekong Wagtail. It used to be possible to go by boat but that did not seem to be an option when we were there. On arrival we hired motorcycle taxis to take us to the Dolphin pools about 30 minutes (15km) north of town. Once at the pools we arranged a small boat to take us out onto the Mekong River to explore the small bushy islands beyond the Dolphins. It took us longer than expected to find any Mekong Wagtails as the boatman did not seem familiar with them. At first we just saw White Wagtails, and 2 Small Pratincole, but by concentrating on the small bushy islands near the series of stone pillars in the river we eventually had good views of 2 Mekong Wagtails. After this we watched the Irrawady River Dolphins surfacing every few mins, a rare mammal but not very spectacular. The next morning we walked south along the river to the edge of a large lake. Here we found an Asian Golden Weaver, a surprisingly scarce bird, Thick-billed and Rusty-rumped Warblers and Ashy Minivet.

We caught a bus from PP to Kampot, then took a taxi up to Bokor NP where we stayed in a dormitory at the
 rundown hill station (1000m asl). The only food available was pot noodles. Chestnut-headed Partridge called 
occasionally in the morning but were not responsive to the poor recording we had. Frank Rheidl's report on 
Worldtwitch  describes a good trail but we didn't find till too
 late - you have to go down the trail from the reservoir until you reach a ruined building, then crash in to the stream 
on the right and search for the start of the trail there - I marked it with a long straight branch but this will probably 
disappear. Ward saw a covey of partridge on the Waterfall trail, reached by walking along the road nearly to the 
waterfalls. After crossing 2 wooden bridges, you can see some abandoned buildings on the left and a notice saying 
“do not sleep here”. Go up the wide track that turns into a trail, soon entering some good forest - this is where he 
saw it but I didn't, the next day. According to the rangers, the trail name is 'will srey moi roy'. After the good forest in
 the first  1.5 km, it goes through heath-scrub on the rocky hillside and gradually curves back to the hill station/
guesthouse. I did see Silver Pheasant, Indochinese Swiftlet, Wreathed Hornbill, Blue Pitta, Lanceolated Warbler, and
 Booted Eagle and an Aquila, both very rare in Cambodia. No White-throated Rock-Thrush or Silver Oriole, both
 recorded here. 

The others visited Mt Aural and found Cambodian Laughingthrush easy, but the walk up was very hard work, and there was no sign of Chestnut-headed Partridge, which does occur there.

The temples and extensive ruins in the Angkor Wat area, near Siem Reap, are magnificent. Entry costs $20 for 1 day, $40 for 3 days; motorcycle transport around the temples costs c.$10 a day. Birding here has been reported to be good, as there are lots of big old trees, but the only notable bird I saw was a Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher in a large area of scrub. I checked 100s of orioles hoping for a female Silver but to no avail. I did not visit the nearby huge lake Ton Le Sap where at Prek Toal Nature Reserve, an expensive site to reach and enter, Spot-billed Pelican, Greater Adjutant, Milky Stork and Painted Stork breed.

I later learnt that James Eaton visited Mondulkiri, a province in Eastern Cambodia. The Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area there is a large tract of low-mid altitude rainforest, previously owned by a logging concession, now taken over by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Here he found a Masked Finfoot, present for two consecutive days, a very difficult bird to see anywhere these days. Another surprise was the discovery of at least 4 pairs of Orange-necked Partridge close to the camp.


See  Species Lists

No.s are daily max, X=several at least, H=heard only Preah KratieBokorSiemKompong
  Vihear  ReapThom
Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger  4   
Little Egret Egretta garzetta X   1
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea   2  X
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea      X
Great Egret Ardea alba      X
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis      X
Chinese Pond-Heron Ardeola bacchus  XX 6X
Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis     1
Black-headed Ibis Threshkiornis melanocephalus NT     1
White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni Cr  5    
Giant Ibis Pseudibis gigantea Cr 2    
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala NT     22
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans     2 
Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus 4    
Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicusVu 2   3
Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha  1  30
Osprey Pandion haliaetus    1  
Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes     2 
Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus   1  
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus  2   10
Black Kite Milvus migrans lineatus     1
Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus  1    
Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela  2    
Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus     20
Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos   1 6
Shikra Accipiter badius  4 11 
Rufous-winged Buzzard Butastur liventer 10    
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo    2  
Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga Vu     1
Steppe/Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila nipalensis/heliaca   1  
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus   1  
Peregrine Falco peregrinus   1 1
Chinese Francolin Francolinus pintadeanus  H    
[Chestnut-headed Partridge Arborophila cambodiana]NT   H  
Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera    2  
Yellow-legged Buttonquail Turnix tanki  2    
Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator      2
Bengal Florican Eupodotis benghalensis En      3
Pintail Snipe Gallinago stenura    1F
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis     1
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia      2
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola     X
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos  1   
Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus 1    
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius  X  X
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus  2  2
Small Pratincole Glareola lactea  2   
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus X   2
Red Collared-Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica  X1   
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis  X   X
Barred Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia unchall  2 F  
Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica  1 H  
Pompadour Green-Pigeon Treron pompadora    F  
Yellow-footed Green Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera 2    
Mountain Imperial-Pigeon Ducula badia    2  
Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria X    
Blossom-headed Parakeet Psittacula roseata  X    
Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri  X  X 
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus      1
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus sparverioides    11 
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus  H    
[Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus]  HH   
Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris    1  
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea      1
Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis    1  
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis  H    
Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides  H    
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus    H  
Crested Treeswift Hemiprocne coronata 1    
Indochinese Swiftlet Aerodramus rogersi     2  
Asian Palm-Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis  XXX  
House Swift Apus nipalensis  XX X 
Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus    1  
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis   2  1
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis  12   
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis   2   
Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis X    
Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus   X  X
Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis  X    
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops F1 2 
Oriental Pied-Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris     2 
Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus    1  
Red-vented Barbet Megalaima lagrandieri  X    
Lineated Barbet Megalaima lineata  2  X 
Moustached Barbet Megalaima incognita   1  
Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala     H 
Rufous Woodpecker Celeus brachyurus  1    
Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha  2    
Black-headed Woodpecker Picus erythropygius X    
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus   H  
Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus  3    
Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus  3    
Blue Pitta Pitta cyanea   1  
Indochinese Bushlark Mirafra marionae X    
Sand Martin Riparia riparia     X
Plain Martin Riparia paludicola  X F 
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica  XXXX
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica XX  X
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus    [1]  
White Wagtail Motacilla alba  2  1
Mekong Wagtail Motacilla  2   
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava   1  X
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea   2  
Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus   X  X
Richard's Pipit  Anthus richardi X    
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni    5  
Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus  H   
Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei  2    
Indochinese Cuckooshrike Coracina polioptera  X    
Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike Coracina melaschistos   1  
Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus   2   
Small Minivet Pericrotus cinnamomeus X    
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus    X  
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus    1  
Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps     1 
Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster  X    
Stripe-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysoni    1  
Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier   X  X
Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi   2   
Ochraceous Bulbul Alophoixus ochraceus    1  
Grey-eyed Bulbul Iole propinqua    1  
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis    1  
Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons  1    
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius    26 
Blue Whistling-Thrush Myophonus caeruleus    1  
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis    XX
Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens  X    
Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris     X
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata  XX  X
Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata    1  
Rusty-rumped Warbler Locustella certhiola  2  1
Black-browed Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus bistrigiceps      X
Manchurian Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus tangorum Vu     2
Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis   X  X
Thick-billed Warbler Acrocephalus aedon   1   
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius   X H 
Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis       
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus   X  H
Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi  1 H  
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus 1 XH 
Pale-legged Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes    HH 
White-tailed Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus davisoni    2  
Plain-tailed/ Alstrom's Warbler Seicercus soror   X  
Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris      X
Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher Rhinomyias brunneata    1 
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica  1    
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki    3  
Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla  1   
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina    1  
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica     4
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis  X  11
White-tailed Robin Cinclidium leucurum    1  
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata 11  2
Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata XX  1
White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola  X    
Pied Fantail Rhipidurajavanica  1   
Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea    221
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi    2  
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia  2    
Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis gularis 2    
Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus 2    
White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus   H  
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax monileger    1  
Large Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus hypoleucos    H  
White-browed Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus schisticeps    2  
Streaked Wren-Babbler Napothera brevicaudata    1  
Striped Tit-Babbler Macronous gularis    X  
White-bellied Yuhina Yuhina zantholeuca    1  
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta castanea 4    
Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis  1   
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis   1  
Purple Sunbird Nectarina asiatica 2    
Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata johnsi   2  
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra   1  
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum     1 
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis  32X 
Slender-billed Oriole Oriolus tenuirostris  X  X 
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus   21 1
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus  XX XX
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus  4 2F 
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer    X  
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus hottentotus    2 
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus  3  2 
Red-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa erythrorhyncha  1 1  
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos      6
White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis      X
Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra X   F
Black-collared Starling Gracupica nigricollis  X   X
Vinous-breasted Starling Acridotheres burmannicus  X  X 
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis   X  X
White-vented Myna Acridotheres grandis   3  F
Hill Myna Gracula religiosa     X 
Plain-backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus  F FF
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus     X 
Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus hypoxanthus NT  1   
Red Avadavat Amandava amandava     X
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata   2   
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata 4    
Black-headed Munia Lonchura malacca     X
Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola      X






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