Travel arrangements were to fly to Bangkok from Birmingham via Dubai with Emirates and straight on to Siem Reap with Air Asia. I'd have liked to take the overland route to Cambodia but on such a short trip flying made more sense this time.
Sunday, 12 April
The trip went smoothly landing at Suvarnabhumi airport around midday. Egrets could be seen on the flooded fields on the approach and a tantalising glimpse of a largish grey bird with black wingtips that will remain unidentified but may have been Pied Harrier. The flood channels at the airport had many Black-winged Stilt, Little Egrets and Pond Herons. Waiting for the bus to Don Muang provided the first close views of Common Myna and from the bus I saw House Swift, a flock of 10 Lesser Whistling Duck, Feral Pigeons and Eastern Jungle Crows.
With time to kill at Don Muang I hung around near a pond outside the airport where Oriental Magpie-robins showed well along with Spotted Doves and House Sparrows.
Arrived at Siem Reap in the dark. Immigration was painless and after a short transfer to the hotel and a beer had a good night's sleep.
Monday, 13 April
Paradise Eco Resort, Siem Reap
Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier
Later on I added Streak-eared Bulbul, Brown-throated Sunbird, Common Tailorbird, Oriental Magpie-robin, plus wintering Dusky Warbler, Dark-sided Flycatcher and Grey-backed Shrike. An Asian Openbill flew over. Great views of Common Sun Skink, Asian House Gecko and Oriental Garden Lizard.
Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor
Asian House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus
Common Sun Skink Eutropis multifasciata
Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus
Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica
Soon after breakfast I borrowed a bicycle and headed out to the West Baray. Eastern Cattle Egrets were feeding among Water Buffalo, Black Drongo, Barn Swallows and Sand Martin, Pond Herons, Common Myna, Black-collared Starling and Brown Shrike were all in the nearby farmland along with a Plain-backed Sparrow.
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus & Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Plain-backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Black-collared Starling Gracupica nigricollis
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
A large body of water, easy to cycle around with shallow muddy flats at the eastern end. On arrival Striated Swallows were around the large culvert and flocks of Little Cormorants were on the open water. Other birds included 2-3 Oriental Darters, Palm Swifts and Little Grebes. White-rumped Munias were on the track. The shallows had Great & Intermediate Egrets, Indian Spot-billed Ducks, Pacific Golden Plover, Greenshank, distant smaller waders, 1 Oriental Pratincole, White & Eastern Yellow Wagtails. A large snake in the scrub here remained unidentified as did the large, exotic butterflies.
River Garden, Siem Reap
I was due to meet my sister in Siem Reap so decided to move on to the town. The River Garden was very pleasant with a pool in a large garden but I missed the diversity of wildlife straight away. Only Dusky Warbler, Streak-eared Bulbul and Common Tailorbird seemed regular here. A wander out to the river in front did reveal a Taiga Flycatcher though and Germain's Swiftlets and Barn Swallows were common.
Tuesday, 14th April
Hired a car and driver and headed off to visit the Koh Ker temple site about 120km NE of Siem Reap. Common Mynas, Palm Swifts and a few Feral Pigeons and White-vented Mynas were about the only birds for much of the way. A journey characterised by huge numbers of sticky rice sellers strung out along the roadside. About 20km south of Koh Ker the landscape changed to older forest, much of it cleared, and I noted a Shikra, 2 Crested Treeswifts and many hirundines, including Wire-tailed Swallow. A male Minivet seen on arrival could have been Grey-chinned or Scarlet.
The main temple site includes an impressive ziggurat set among mature forest and the view from the top provides a great vantage point. A flock of mainly (perhaps all) Golden-fronted Leafbirds was in the treetops and in the air were Striated Swallows, 2-3 Brown Needle-tailed Swifts and a Shikra.
Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
Oriental Garden Lizard Calotes versicolor
Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus
Greater Blue Wing Rhyothemis plutonia
Lyle's Flying Fox Pteropus lylei
Wednesday, 15th April
A Dark-sided Flycatcher was a new addition to the River Garden garden as I spent a lazy morning on the balcony. Later I hired a bike and cycled north along the Siem Reap river towards the temples gaining good views of Ruby-cheeked Sunbird and Yellow-browed Warbler plus frustrating views of unidentified birds in the extreme heat. The huge hives of Giant Honey Bees were spectacular hanging under the branches high in large trees. The large moats around Angkor Wat had plenty of Little Cormorants and I got shots of a splendid Rapacious Flangetail dragonfly. The surrounding woodland also produced a few Fulvous Forest Skimmers and Spotted Zebra butterfly.
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis
Giant Honey Bees Apis dorsata
Rapacious Flangetail (Ictinogomphus rapaxis
Fulvous Forest Skimmer Neurothemis fulvia
Spotted Zebra Graphium megarus
Thursday, 16th April
With my sister now arrived, and our first night in the party atmosphere of Songkran Siem Reap under our belts, we arranged a car and driver to take us to the ancient carvings of Kbal Spean. Dating from the Angkorean era this site had a couple of attractions beyond the obvious interest of the elaborate and extensive lingas (phallic Hindu symbols) carved into the rocky bed of the Stung Kbal Spean river. Firstly it was an opportunity to experience a different habitat to the mostly lowland farmland and woodland that dominated this trip and secondly it was a chance to escape the stifling heat by gaining a bit of altitude in the Kulen Hills and plenty of shade and cool waters.
Lingas and yoni carved into the river bed
Carving of Vishnu
Not far from the car park the sandy shore of the small stream played host to a wonderful collection of butterflies coming for the water and minerals: Spot & Five-bar Swordtails, Great & Lesser Zebras, Spotted Jay, Common Bluebottle, Common Hedge Blue and Common Lineblue. The birding was typically frustrating with much calling and singing (including primates - especially Homo sapiens!) but few birds showing well. However the star of the show was a splendid White-throated Rock-thrush and we also saw Blue-winged Leafbird, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Greater Coucal and Black-crested Bulbul. Around the carvings at the top we encountered a small blue butterfly rejoicing by the name of The Fluffy Tit, characterised by distinctive long fluffy streamers. Peacock Pansy butterfly also showed well.
White-throated Rock-thrush Monticola gularis
Spot Swordtail Graphium nomius, Five-bar Swordtail Graphium antiphates, Great Zebra Graphium xenocles, Lesser Zebras Graphium macareus & Spotted Jay Graphium agamemnon
Common Hedge Blue Acytolepis puspa & Common Lineblue Prosotas nora
The return journey revealed plenty of Brown Shrikes on roadside wires, plus 1 Red-wattled Lapwing. Another pleasant night awaited us in Siem Reap but a fairly early night was called for.
Friday, 17th April
Angkor Wat Temples
Long-tailed Macaque Macaca fascicularis
Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Common Pierrot Castalius rosimon
Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela
Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
Common Bluebottle Graphium sarpedon
The Clipper Parthenos sylvia
A tour of the other temples did not add much to the wildlife recorded but there was a flock of Red-breasted Parakeets flying high in the trees at the spectacular Ta Prohm temple.
Large Spung at Ta Prohm
Strangler Fig at Ta Prohm
Saturday, 18th April
Asian Openbills Anastomus oscitans
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala
The trip took most of the day but there was plenty of time to stop off on the drive back to Siem Reap to check out the farmland on the way. Here there were Blue-tailed & Little Green Bee-eaters, Baya Weaver, Zebra Dove, White-vented Myna, Red-collared Dove, Eastern Cattle Egret, Paddyfield Pipit, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank and Indian Roller. A tiring but very satisfying trip.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus
Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
Sunday, 19th April
Return to Bangkok
I'd initially planned an over-land return to Bangkok taking all day and arriving very late but common sense saw us having a leisurely morning by the pool before catching the short flight back to Don Mueng. No new birds seen today.
Monday, 20th April
One day (and night) in Bangkok. Saw the following from my cousin's 24th floor apartment balcony: Streak-eared & Yellow-vented Bulbuls, Common & White-vented Mynas, Eastern Jungle Crow, Feral Pigeon, White-rumped Shama, Oriental Magpie-robin, Black-collared Starling, Coppersmith Barbet and Tree Sparrow.
Before sampling the wonders of the city's nightlife I managed a visit to Lumphini Park - a wonderful oasis of green in the centre of the urban sprawl, with some wilder patches. The really common birds like White-vented Myna, Black-collared Starling, Oriental Magpie-robin, Eastern Jungle Crow, Tree Sparrow and Zebra Dove were joined by Asian Pied Starling, Striated Heron, Little Egret, Brown Shrike and Dark-sided Flycatcher. A Variable Squirrel was also entertaining but by far the most spectacular creatures here were the huge Water Monitors.
White-vented Myna Acridotheres javanicus
Water Monitor Varanus salvator
Striated Heron Butorides striata
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis