Birdtour Asia report  of their tour of Cambodia with Sam Veasna Conservation Tours and Laos in February 2020. Written by Mike Nelson, Birdtour Asia Tour Leader. Want to go birding in Cambodia with Birdtour Asia in February 2022? Sign up today on:




Residing in the old heartland of the Khmer Empire, Cambodia boasts some of the world’s most stunning temples. It is also home to several of Asia’s most desirable species that include Giant and White-shouldered Ibis, White-rumped Falcon, White-winged Duck, Mekong Wagtail, Bengal Florican, Cambodian Tailorbird and Chinese Grassbird. Wintering Manchurian Reed Warbler and Yellow-breasted Buntings were greatly appreciated, and in neighbouring Laos the recently described Bare-faced Bulbul inhabits the limestone karst of the western Annamites.

Our tour covered the wonderful temples of the Angkor complex with Bayon, Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat the main features. Here the forests were home to Hainan Blue Flycatcher, White-throated Rock Thrush, Asian Barred Owlet and Black Baza. Birding around the grasslands east of Tonle Sap we found the Critically Endangered Bengal Florican, Manchurian Reed Warbler, several Eastern Marsh and Pied Harriers. Heading north into the dry forests along the Thai border we found White-winged Duck after a patient dusk vigil, White-shouldered and Giant Ibis included the latter on the nest attending a chick. Both Collared Falconet and White-rumped Falcon put in appearances, several woodpeckers that included huge Great Slaty Woodpeckers doing their spread wing, waving display, a vibrant Rufous-bellied and smart looking Black-headed Woodpeckers were highlights.

We then continued east to the Mekong River for Mekong Wagtail and Irrawaddy River Dolphins before heading south via some secondary habitat for Cambodian Tailorbird, a recently described endemic. Further to the south we headed to the mountains of Bokor National Park making a stop along the way for Chinese Grassbird, a bird thought confined to the area around Hong Kong until it was discovered in Myanmar and here in 2012. The mountains of Bokor gave us Chestnut-headed Partridge, and our bird of the trip, a magnificent Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl that cruised in out of the night to perch above us.

It was then off to Laos for Bare-faced Bulbul, and though the area was quiet we still picked up Streaked Wren-Babbler, Moustached Barbet, Spot-necked Babbler and a trip along the river produced Small Pratincole and the hoped for Jerdon’s Bushchat. Overall, we had 279 species with nine heard only, and combined with wonderfully fragrant and flavourful food, stunning historical sites and warm and friendly people it made for a very pleasant tour.

Mike Nelson

Mike Nelson

Tour Leader for Birdtour Asia

Mike developed a particular interest in Asia during his birding travels and having led numerous tours in Asia, working as a full-time guide for Birdtour Asia was a natural progression to share his knowledge and enthusiam on tours throughout our region.