Essential Cambodia birding trip report of an 8-day Cambodia birding tour in January 2023 with Sam Veasna Conservation Tours (SVC).
Dates: 25th January to 1st February 2023
Report Written By: Hang Oeung, SVC Bird Guide
SVC Client: David Rudemeller, USA
Locations: Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, Angkor Wat, Ang Treapang Thmor, Bengal Florican Grasslands, Tmat Boey, Kampong Thom, Kratie, Cambodian Tailorbird Grasslands (Phnom Penh)
Total No. of Bird Species: 196
Map of Locations (not exact locations of birding spots):
The Essential Cambodia 8-day trip includes a number of birding sites around Cambodia. This includes; Angkor Wat historical park, Prek Toal bird sanctuary, Ang Trapeang Thmor landscape protected area, Bengal Florican Grassland, Tmat Boey Ibis site, Sambor Preikuk a new world heritage site at Kompong Thom, Katie, and Cambodia Tailorbird site near Phnom Penh city.
We started our tour in one of the famous world heritage sites in the world called Angkor Wat located In Siem Reap province with our target bird species like the White-throated Rock-Thrush, Forest Wagtail, Asian barred Owlet, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Alexandrine Parakeet, and Red-breasted Parakeets.
Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary is known as a large waterbird breeding colony located in Battambang province, and our target birds there such as Greater Adjutant, Lesser Adjutant, Milky Stork, Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Black-headed Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Oriental Darter, and Spot-billed Pelican.
Ang Trapeang Thmor landscape protected area is the best place to see the birds such as Sarus Crane, Bronze-winged Jacana, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Painted Stork, Greater Spotted Eagle, Garganey, Spotted Owlet, Barn Owl, and Grey-headed Swamphen.
Bengal Florican Grassland is seasonally inundated outer-floodplain grassland with some small areas of scrub with our targets such as Bengal Florican, Eastern Marsh-Harrier, Small Buttonquail, Oriental Skylark, and Horsfield’s Bushlark.
Tmat Boey is located in the Northern Plain of Cambodia and we are looking for Giant Ibis and White-shouldered Ibises, Brown Fish-owl, Oriental Scope Owl, Spotted Wood Owl, Black-headed Woodpecker, Rufous Bellied Woodpeckers, Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers.
Kampong Thom is a new world heritage site that was registered with UNESCO in 2017 called Sambor Prei Kuk temple. After that, we continue our trip to Kratie for Mekong Wagtail, Asian Golden Weaver, Grey-headed Swamphen, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Golden-headed Cisticola, Oriental Reed Warbler, and Irrawaddy Dolphin.
The Cambodian Tailorbird is the newly discovered described in 2013 and we will see them outskirts of Phnom Penh city.
Highlights of the tour
1. Giant Ibis
2. White-shouldered Ibis
3. Bengal Florican
4. Cambodian Tailorbird
5. Milky Stork
6. Greater Adjutant
7. Lesser Adjutant
8. Sarus Crane
9. Asian Golden Weaver
10. White-rumped Falcon
11. Black-headed Woodpecker
12. Great Slaty Woodpecker
13. Yellow-crowned Woodpecker
14. Brown Fish Owl
15. Brown Wood Owl
16. Oriental Scope Owl
17. Mekong Wagtail
Essential Cambodia Birding Tour
This 8-day tour enables the birder to experience most of Cambodia’s special bird species in comfort. Three Critically Endangered bird species: Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis and Bengal Florican should be seen, as well as Greater Adjutant, Milky Stork, and Sarus Cranes along with a host of other exciting species.
Day 1: Angkor Wat
We went for sunrise at Angkor Wat and then had breakfast nearby the temple. After finishing breakfast, we went to see the birds in the forest around the temple. We are looking at our targets like White-throated Rock-thrush, Forest Wagtail, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, and Asian Barred Owlet.
Then we went to visit temple history after we got our targets birds, we had lunch around Srah Srong reservoir after finishing Angkor Wat temple. After lunch, we went to visit Ta Prohm temple with the history and looked for Alexandrine Parakeets and Red-breasted Parakeets. When we saw them all, we were continuing to visit our last temple called Angkor Thom city the main temple is Bayon temple or faces temple, built in the late 12th century and dedicated to Buddhism.
Day 2: Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary
We will start our boat trip from Mechrey-Siem Reap boat dock our schedule. We will spend around 1 hour half on a wooden boat, including breakfast along the way to Prek Toal floating village. We had a stop at The MOE building for the research station and then we swapped the boat from a wooden boat to a long tail boat to get our platform tower #49 to observe the birds.
We spend our time there till our client feels enough with the landscape of the breeding colony birds with our target such as Greater Adjutant, Lesser Adjutant, Milky Stork, Grey-headed Fish-eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Spot-billed Pelican, Black-headed Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Grey Heron, and other water species and so on.
Day 3: Ang Trapeang Thmor (ATT)
On the third day of the trip, we travel on national road #6 to the northwest of Cambodia for around 2 hours to do bird watching at the largest reservoir that was built during Khmer Rouge time in the year 1975-1979.
In the year 1999, this place became a protected area after Mr Sam Veasna found Sarus Crane in the year 1997-1998. Then converted to the protected landscape in the year 2016.
We did arrive at the WCS headquarters office at 6:45 am in the morning and met our local guide and WCS’s ranger there. On the way, we had a stop at Soung corner to observe the birds at the reservoir. We have seen many birds in that area such as a big flock of Garganey, Cotton pygmy Goose, Little Greb, Lesser Whistling Ducks, about 37 Sarus Cranes, and other species more like Herons, Harriers, Egrets, and Cormorants. At nearly 12 o’clock, we headed back to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for our lunch.
After lunch, we tried other places around the reservoir and on the way back to Siem Reap town to find a Knob-billed duck as a lifer for a client. But I couldn’t find it, so, we did arrive in Siem Reap town at 5 pm.
Day 4: Bengal Florican Grasslands and Tmat Boey
We were leaving from the hotel at 5:30 am to Prolay Grassland for Bengal Florican, we spend about 1 hour and a half along the way to reach our destination and met our local guide there. We spent nearly 2 hours trying to find Bengal Florican but we did not see it. While we explore to find Bengal Florican, we did watch some birds around us such as Oriental Skylark, Small Button Quial, Striated Grassbird, Red Avadavat, Chestnut Munia, Common Kingfisher, and Brown Shrike.
After that, I called Mr Chi at the Preah Hout community for information about Bengal Florican. We were split into 2 groups to find Bengal Floricans because I was planning to leave from Prolay for the Preah Hout community. But finally, we found Bengal Florican.
We left the Bengal Florican Grasslands at 10:00 am and continued to Tmat Boey community. We had lunch along the way near Beng Mealea temple for an hour later and stopped to observe more birds over there. We were seen many birds like Grey-capped Woodpeckers, Freckle-breasted Woodpeckers, Large Cuckooshrike, Large Woodshrike, Blossom-headed Parakeet, and so on.
We arrived at Tmat Boey at 3:15 pm, then pick up our guide and went straight to find White-shouldered Ibis at their rooting tree. While we were waiting, we have seen many birds around us like Rufous-winged Buzzard, Chinese Francolin, Indochinese Roller, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Small Minivet, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Purple Sunbird, and 4 White-shouldered Ibis. After that, we went back to the ecolodge for a shower, had dinner, and rested.
Day 5: Tmat Boey
We went to visit the Giant Ibis in their nesting tree, we were leaving from the ecolodge at 5:30 am to the site of the Giant Ibis nesting tree, and we spend about 20mn walked to the nesting tree to observe the Giant Ibis early in the morning from the light of sunrise. We have seen 4 Giant Ibis with 3 Giant Ibis in the nesting tree, and another one went away for feeding, and we observe for about 30mn. Then we moved from the Giant Ibis nesting tree back to the car park and spotted White-rumped Falcon during our breakfast time.
During breakfast, we have seen 2 White-rumped Falcon coming close to our car park. We did enjoy our breakfast by seeing birds around us. We did many places to observe more birds like Brown Fish Owls, Spotted Wooded Owls, and Barn Owls till late morning then we returned back to the ecolodge for our break at the ecolodge.
In the late afternoon, we went to Phnom Reang birding around that area with our local guide looking for Savana Nightjar, Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers, Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, Black-headed Woodpeckers, and a big flock of Velvet-fronted Nuthatch. We went back to the car park during dusk time, we did a small stop nearby the car and turned on the light point at the tree branches to find the bird called Oriental Scope Owl after we heard it calling nearby us.
Day 6: Tmat Boey to Kompong Thom via Sambor Prei Kuk Temple
Before we left Tmat Boey ecolodge, in the morning we went to do bird watching at Koh Khnol with our local guide till lunchtime.
After lunch, we left our eco-lodge at 12:30 pm to Kongpong Thom province, we spend time about 3 hours on the road but we had a stop at Sambor Prei Kuk, a new world heritage site designated by UNESCO in the year 2017 before we reached our hotel in Kompong Thom town.
We have seen many birds such as Asian Barred Owlet, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, White-throated Rock-thrush, Green-billed Malkoha, Taiga Flycatcher, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, and White-rumped Shama.
Day 7: Kompong Thom to Kratie
At 6:30 am, I went to pick up the client at the hotel for breakfast at a local restaurant for “Kuy Teav” and then we were leaving straight to Kratie province. We spend about 4 hours on the road because many parts of the road were under construction.
We did arrive Kratie town and checked in at the hotel at 11:30 am for refreshments then left the hotel for lunch at 12 pm. After lunch, we had a break of about 2 hours then continued to watch the birds at the marshland and wetland around Kratie outskirts of town for Asian Golden Weaver, Phallas’s Grasshopper Warbler, White-rumped Munia, Grey-headed Swamphen, Common Kingfisher, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Zitting & Golden-headed Cisticola, and some other water species.
Day 8: Kratie to Phnom Penh via Cambodian Tailorbird Site
Our last activity at Kratie is looking for Mekong Wagtail around the Kampi pool. We were checked out from the hotel, had breakfast, and then left the town for our mission.
We reached the boat parking dock at 7:30 am after meeting the boat driver, then we left for Mekong Wagtail. We spent time about 2 hours on the boat observing Mekong Wagtail. We moved from place to place till we found 5 Mekong Wagtail, Small Pratincole, and Grey-throated Martin. Some pratincoles and martins were flying around in the sky and some were landing and running the sands. We also saw more like Yellow-bellied Prinia, Dusky Warbler, and Indian Spotted billed Duck and heard Golden-bellied Gerygone calling nearby as well.
On the way back to the mainland, we did see some 5 Irrawaddy Dolphins near our boat. We observed them for 30 minutes just chilling and relaxing near the sand banks.
After seeing everything, we quickly left Kratie for Phnom Penh city according to our schedule because it was one of the long trips journeys, we spent more than 4 hours on the road. We had a small stop at a gas station and lunch at Suong town, then we continued our trip.
Before we arrived in Phnom Penh city, we did stop at the Cambodia Tailorbird site for an hour to observe the birds there. We did see some bird species such as Cambodia Tailorbird, Ashy Tailorbird, Collared Kingfisher, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, and other warbler species.
Departure to Duong Chan hotel in Phnom Penh city and let the client check in at the hotel.
Hang has over 7 years of bird-guiding experience with SVC but has also worked for over 15 years prior as one of Cambodia’s best temple guides.
Complete Bird List
Total No. of Bird Species: 196
See detailed bird lists for each location on the following link:
1. Lesser Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna javanica
2. Cotton Pygmy-Goose Nettapus coromandelianus
3. Garganey Spatula querquedula
4. Indian Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha
5. Chinese Francolin Francolinus pintadeanus
6. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
7. Rock Pigeon Columba livia
8. Red Collared-Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
9. Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
10. Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
11. Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis
12. Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
13. Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis
14. Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
15.Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus
16. Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
17. Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
18. Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus
19. Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris
20. Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
21. Germain’s Swiftlet Aerodramus germani
22. House Swift Apus nipalensis
23. Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
24. Crested Treeswift Hemiprocne coronata
25. Eurasian CootFulica atra
26. Gray-headed Swamphen Porphyrio poliocephalus
27. Sarus Crane Antigone antigone
28. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
29. Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
30. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
31. Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus
32. Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus
33. Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura
34. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
35. Small Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
36. Small Pratincole Glareola lactea
37. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida
38. Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
39. Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala
40. Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
41. Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger
42. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
43. Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
44. Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis
45. Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
46. Gray Heron Ardea cinerea
47. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
48. Great Egret Ardea alba
49. Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia
50. Little Egret Egretta garzetta
51. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
52. Chinese Pond-Heron Ardeola bacchus
53. Striated Heron Butorides striata
54. Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
55. Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
56. Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
57. White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni
58. Giant Ibis Pseudibis gigantea
59. Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
60. Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni
61. Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela
62. Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga
63. Rufous-winged Buzzard Butastur liventer
64. Eastern Marsh-Harrier Circus spilonotus
65. Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos
66. Shikra Accipiter badius
67. Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus
68. Gray-headed Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus
69. Barn Owl Tyto alba
70. Oriental Scops-Owl Otus sunia
71. Brown Fish-Owl Ketupa zeylonensis
72. Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides
73. Spotted Owlet Athene brama
74. Spotted Wood-Owl Strix seloputo
75. Oriental Pied-Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
76. Wreathed Hornbill Rhyticeros undulatus
77. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
78. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
79. Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata
80. Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris
81. Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
82. Asian Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
83. Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus
84. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti
85. Indochinese Roller Coracias affinis
86. Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalus
87. Lineated Barbet Psilopogon lineatus
88. Gray-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus canicapillus
89. Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Leiopicus mahrattensis
90.Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus
91. Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis
92. Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus
93. Common Flameback Dinopium javanense
94. Black-headed Woodpecker Picus erythropygius
95. Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus
96. White-rumped Falcon Neohierax insignis
97. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
98. Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria
99. Blossom-headed Parakeet Psittacula roseata
100. Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri
101. Golden-bellied Gerygone Gerygone sulphurea
102. Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
103. Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus
104. Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei
105. Black-winged Cuckooshrike Lalage melaschistos
106. Indochinese Cuckooshrike Lalage polioptera
107. Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
108. Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
109. Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
110. Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis virgatus
111. Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus
112. Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
113. Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
114. Malaysian Pied-Fantail Rhipidura javanica
115. White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola
116. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
117. Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
118. Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus
119. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
120. Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
121. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
122. Burmese Shrike Lanius collurioides
123. Red-billed Blue-Magpie Urocissa erythroryncha
124. Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
125. Racket-tailed Treepie Crypsirina temia
126. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
127. Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
128. Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
129. Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
130. Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis
131. Cambodian Tailorbird Orthotomus chaktomuk
132. Ashy Tailorbird Orthotomus ruficeps
133. Brown Prinia Prinia polychroa
134. Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens
135. Gray-breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii
136. Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris
137. Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
138. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
139. Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis
140. Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis
141. Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler Helopsaltes certhiola
142. Lanceolated WarblerLocustella lanceolata
143. Striated Grassbird Cincloramphus palustris
144. Gray-throated Martin Riparia chinensis
145. Bank Swallow Riparia riparia
146. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
147. Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
148. Black-crested Bulbul Rubigula flaviventris
149. Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster
150. Stripe-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysoni
151. Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier
152. Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus conradi
153. Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
154. Radde’s Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi
155. Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus
156. Two-barred Warbler Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus
157. Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes
158. Chestnut-capped Babbler Timalia pileata
159. Pin-striped Tit-Babbler Mixornis gularis
160. White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
161. Burmese Nuthatch Sitta neglecta
162. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis
163. Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa
164. Black-collared Starling Gracupica nigricollis
165. White-shouldered Starling Sturnia sinensis
166. Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnia malabarica
167. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
168. Great Myna Acridotheres grandis
169. Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
170. Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
171. White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
172. Hainan Blue Flycatcher Cyornis hainanus
173. Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus
174. Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
175. White-throated Rock-Thrush Monticola gularis
176. Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius
177. Amur Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri
178. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata
179. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
180. Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis
181. Purple Sunbird Cinnyris asiaticus
182. Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis
183. Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
184. Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus hypoxanthus
185. Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata
186. White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
187. Chestnut Munia Lonchura atricapilla
188. Red Avadavat Amandava amandava
189. House Sparrow Passer domesticus
190. Plain-backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus
191. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
192. Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus
193. Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis
194. Mekong Wagtail Motacilla samveasnae
195. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
196. Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus
1. Small Flying Squirrel – Pteromyini
2. Variable Squirrel – Callosciurus finlaysonii