Saturday, February 24, 2018


Another adventure, this time in Southeast Asia. We are starting in Cambodia for 16 days, then on to Thailand for 12 more. And you can't go to Cambodia and just look at birds - there are some of the world's most amazing archaeological temples here dating back to at least the 9th century. So when we put this trip together with the Cambodian Bird Guide Association, we made sure to add in plenty of time be tourists.

As I write this we've been in Siem Reap for most of a week. We spent over two full days touring the sites around the Angkor Wat complex. There are over 200 temples in the Angkor Great Park. The history here is immense, so much more than I can write in this blog (besides the fact that I am unqualified to even begin to explain the history here). With that I'll point to the internet for anyone who wishes to learn more:

Angkor Wat

For us it was an amazing experience. Without being all inclusive, these were some of the major temples we visited: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, Preah Khan, Banteay Kdei, and Banteay Srea. 

Our awesome temple guide Yeat!

We day tripped to Kbal Spean, an 11th and 12th century Hindu archeological site in the Kulen Hills. A 1.5 km hike up the mountain produced about 35 species of birds in the dry deciduous forest - ending at the rock relief carvings in the river bed. 

Our next day trip was to the largest lake in southeast Asia, the Tonle Sap. During the flood season this lake can be as much as 160 miles in length. We traveled first by a large boat to a floating village on the lake, then by small skiff out to the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, a protected area for nesting herons, egrets, cranes, storks, and more. A key target bird was the Greater Adjutant Stork, a globally threatened species. On the day we picked up nine life birds.

Black Baza

Greater Adjutant Stork

Greater Adjutant Stork

Grey-headed Fish Eagle

Indian Cormorant

Lesser Adjutant Stork

Lesser Adjutant Stork

Painted Stork

Spot-billed Pelican

Spot-billed Pelican

Spot-billed Pelican

Our last day in Siem Reap took us to a large reservoir and the Ang Trapaing Thmor Bird Sanctuary, a protected area set aside for the rare eastern Sarus Crane (Grus antigone sharpii)
, a vulnerable subspecies. We managed to see 4 individuals, but only at spotting scope distance. Five new life birds on the day, and 18 total so far on the trip. 

Oriental Pratincole

Pied Kingfisher

We are leaving Siem Reap in the morning to explore many new parts of the country over the next 10 days. As we will be much more rural, including some tent camps along the way, updates will likely be a while.