On February 20th 2021, Sam Veasna Conservation Tours was pleased to launch our very first scheduled tour to go birding at Bokor National Park, a beautiful site located in the Elephant Mountains of Cambodia’s southern Kampot province. Designated as an ASEAN heritage park in 1993, Bokor is a popular sight amongst locals and tourists for its French colonial ruins, panoramic views, a beautiful cliff-side pagoda, and the refreshing Popokvil waterfall. But what many visitors to Bokor might not know is that within the lush evergreen forests and grass plains lies a world of fascinating bird species, such as the rare near-endemic chestnut-headed partridge, the spectacular Great Hornbill, and the Indochinese Green Magpie!
SVC Guide Hat Huon (who led the tour with fellow guide Ladong Nan shares) the experience of our group of 12 enthusiastic nature enthusiasts adventure around this national treasure!
We met our group at 5am in Kampot City with our breakfast packed as we drove up to Bokor. Along the way up, we made a few roadside stops to listen to the calling of nocturnal birds such as nightjars and owls. We were fortunate to see the silhouette of the Great-eared Nightjar in flight while other Large-tailed Nightjars were calling from the forest nearby. As more light filled the sky, we continued driving up Bokor when along the way to our second spot, we spotted a couple of Wreathed Hornbills flying overhead! Stopping the vans immediately, we enthusiastically got the binoculars and scopes out quickly to catch a glimpse of these large great birds (which are also on our list of Top 10 Birds). We trekked along up around 300m looking for some more beautiful species and spotted the Blue-winged Leafbird, Thick-billed Green Pigeon Moustached Barbet.
After a 30min breakfast and coffee break, our group was ready to get straight back into some more birding. About a kilometer away, we were treated to more spectacular sights of the Green-eared Barbet, Black-crested Bulbul, and Bronze Drongo. We were lucky enough to also see 5 beautiful Wreathed Hornbills flying overhead to perch on a tree branch nearby, which was the perfect opportunity for our guests to see the birds up close with our Swarovski Scopes and take some incredible photos.
Roadside stop on the way up Bokor Mountain – © Fredy Sjafredy
After another quick stop, we made our way to Popokvil Waterfall for a nice long lunch break with an opportunity to enjoy the view of the beautiful falls. After lunch, our guests were re-energized and ready to keep searching for more birds, so we carried on with our binoculars around the area. We managed to see quite a few nice species there such as the lack-throated Sunbird, Verditer Flycatcher, Blue-eared Barbet, a couple of Osprey, Two-barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Green-billed Malkoha, and the Asian Fairy-Bluebird.
Around 2 pm, we left the restaurant to continue our journey to the top of Bokor to explore what other species we could spot around the French Colonial sites of Bokor Hill Station. Despite having less bird movement as a result of the hot afternoon, we managed to still spot a Germain Swiftlet, Red-rumped Swallow, and another Wreathed Hornbill in flight! After deciding to head back down, we stopped at one more spot to see some more species such as the Scarlet Minivet, Large Scimitar Babbler, and Streaked-eared Bulbul. With the weather cooling down, it was a great time to spot more birds feeding before roosting. At this time, we were able to see a couple of Great Hornbill and Wreathed Hornbill, Pin-striped Tit-Babbler, Dark-necked Tailorbird, and Grey-eyed Bulbul.
Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) – © Fredy Sjafredy
Birding at Popokvil Waterfall – © SVC
Moustached Barbet (Megalaima incognita) – © SVC
Birdwatching on Bokor Mountain – © Fredy Sjafredy
Finally, we reached the end of our tour and made our way back to the city in the late afternoon, saying farewell to our amazing group at the Fish Market Restaurant in Kampot City. As our first scheduled tour to this site, we were so delighted to have provided a new experience to our enthusiastic group with the hope that we will meet once again as they continue exploring the beautiful world of birds in Cambodia.
“I have lived in Cambodia on and off for 29 years and this was the first time I ever went birdwatching. It was a wonderful experience especially seeing so many hornbills up close! The guides were fantastic, so knowledgeable, and enjoyable. They helped us to see many beautiful small birds of different species with their high-powered binoculars. I am now so much more aware of the birds around my house in Kampot like some King Fishers showing up near the river. I would definitely like to do more trips in the future, especially in Preah Vihear to see the Giant Ibis!” – Margie de Monchy
We look forward to bringing more people to witness and learn about these precious species and to experience this natural treasure in a new way!
Tour Group at Bokor Hill Station – © Fredy Sjafredy
Check List of Birds
- 1 Scaly-breasted Partridge — heard from two locations
- 3 Thick-billed Green-Pigeon
- 1 Green-billed Malkoha
- 1 Great Eared-Nightjar
- 1 Large-tailed Nightjar — heard
- 3 Germain’s Swiftlet
- 2 Osprey
- 1 Crested Serpent-Eagle
- 1 Mountain Hawk-Eagle
- 1 Gray-faced Buzzard
- 2 Shikra
- 1 Collared Owlet — heard
- 1 Red-headed Trogon
- 4 Great Hornbill
- 7 Wreathed Hornbill
- 1 Dollarbird
- 2 Blue-eared Barbet
- 3 Moustached Barbet
- 4 Vernal Hanging-Parrot
- 1 Scarlet Minivet
- 4 Black-naped Oriole
- 3 Ashy Drongo
- 2 Bronzed Drongo
- 1 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
- 1 Brown Shrike
- 4 Dark-necked Tailorbird
- 4 Barn Swallow
- 3 Black-crested Bulbul
- 1 Stripe-throated Bulbul
- 2 Streak-eared Bulbul
- 2 Gray-eyed Bulbul
- 2 Two-barred Warbler
- 3 Pin-striped Tit-Babbler
- 1 Large Scimitar-Babbler — heard
- 2 Asian Brown Flycatcher
- 2 Verditer Flycatcher
- 2 Taiga Flycatcher
- 1 Pied Bushchat
- 2 Black-throated Sunbird
- 5 Asian Fairy-bluebird
- 3 Blue-winged Leafbird
Number of Taxa: 41
Sam Veasna Conservation Tours Guide
Hat was been leading and assisting tours for local and international birders around Cambodia since 2017, joining SVC after working in the hospitality industry in Siem Reap. Introduced to birding by his friend (a fellow SVC guide), Hat has become a passionate birder, proudly representing SVC at the 2019 Asian Birdfair and guiding birders from around the globe to see some of the world’s most critically endangered species, such as the Giant Ibis in the Northern Plains.
INTERESTED IN THIS TOUR?
Interested in this tour or discovering other fascinating bird sites around Kampot? We run scheduled and private tours in Kampot throughout the year. Contact email@example.com to inquire.