Bird watching in Cambodia still remains an uncommon activity however, due to the insecurity of the 30 year war, a large area of as yet undisturbed wetlands and forests still remain. In many other South East Asian countries, these habitats have already given way to development (plantations, agriculture, housing) leaving Cambodia with many species that are globally threatened. As Cambodia has been (and continues to have a large population under the poverty line), conservation is often not a government priority and many of the previously forested and wetland areas have started to be encroached upon for agriculture and industry. Despite this, a few organisations including Bird Life International, World Wildlife Fund and Wildlife Conservation Society have been working with local government departments and a few local NGOs, to document the various breeding grounds of endangered bird species
Various sites have now been establised for bird watchers to visit and observe giant ibis, sarus crane, bengal florican, white shouldered ibis, various Asian vultures and other endangered species. A popular bird watching site is close to Siem Reap - the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. This is said to be one of the most important breeding sites for globally threatened large water birds in South East Asia. It can be accessed from both Siem Reap and Battambang (by boat only). See Sam Veasna Centre for more details on various organised bird watching tours in Cambodia
Whilst Cambodia Uncovered are not 'bird specialists' we have found a wonderful place to see thousands of birds in the months of October and November. This site is north of Phnom Penh on a tributary of the Sap river heading towards the Great Lake - the Tonle Sap Lake. Thousands of Asian openbills, egrets and herons come to roost in this area and one can see them in the late afternoon and early morning before they fly off to feed. Take a trip on our boat and spend one night seeing literally dozens of openbills perched high up in the trees along the water's edge. As yet, we have never seen other bird watchers at this same place as it appears to be 'off the bird watching radar' - perhaps due to its access which is only by boat in both the wet and dry seasons. We have been told by the locals that there are additional endangered species here including Milky and Painted storks however we have not seen them in this area yet!
However, in December and January, we have seen Painted and hibrid Milky Storks on the canals of Takeo. They feed along with egrets, in the shallow waters as the water recedes. This has been a treat to turn a corner on the canal and be faced with 20 or more Painted and Milky Storks
Whenever we do boat trips on the Mekhong and Sap Rivers (or their tributaries) we see many types of birds. Some of those that we have seen include green bee-eaters, little ringed plovers, spot billed ducks, herons - grey, purple and great billed, great crested terns, common greenshanks, zitting cisticolas, chestnut headed bee-eaters, house swifts, collared and pied kingfishers, pied fantails, egrets and oriental darters. We are sure there are many more and for the keen bird watcher, we know you will see many more
Stung Treng also has many birds including hornbills, cormorants, eagles, parrots and many other species. A boat trip along the Mekong north of Stung Treng to various uninhabited and undeveloped islands can reveal many birds in a short space of time. In addition there are endangered Irrawaddy dolphins both in Stung Treng and Kraties and the critically endangered Cantor's giant soft shelled turtle (found in Kraties) for those who like to see nature up close
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