Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Cambodia's Avian Jewels: Wagtail & Tailorbird

Mekong Wagtail
After visiting Tmatboey (see following post) we headed east on the long drive to the delightful Mekong River town of Kratie for a two-night stay in the Mekong Dolphin Motel. We searched in vain for Asian Golden Weaver at a well-known rice paddy site outside Kratie for this species.

Our boat

Wagtail habitat on Mekong River
We had better luck the next morning when we took to our sheltered long boat for an excursion on the mighty Mekong River.

Mekong River
It wasn't long before we connected with the Mekong Wagtail - a much wanted Mekong River endemic. We saw an unusually large number of 15-20 wagtails, flitting about in pairs and small flocks between the small sandy islands and flooded bushes.

Mekong Wagtail
It seemed that the wagtails were busy establishing breeding territories.

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Irrawaddy Dolphin
Then we had an excellent encounter with the rare Irrawaddy Dolphin,with 10-15 animals, including a couple of females with young, surfacing about the boat. This species has suffered greatly throughout its limited range along the Mekong River due to being caught in gill nets, especially in Laos.

Little Ringed Plover
Other birds seen included Little Ringed Plover, Indian Spot-billed Duck and Grey-throated Martin.

Grey-throated Martin

Indian Spot-billed Duck
The rice paddies remained weaver-free on a second visit later in the day. Locals were busy attending their crops.

Kratie rice paddy
But it was nice to connect with other birds such as Zitting Cisticola.

Zitting Cisticola
And Freckle-breasted Woodpecker and Red Avadavat.

Freckle-breasted Woodpecker

Red Avadavat
Less enchanting were the mist-nets established along the edge of one rice paddy with the remains of 15 birds in various states of decay which must have died in agony. The villagers apparently are trying to protect crops from marauding seed-eaters but the dead birds were the insectivorous reed-warblers, prinias and cisticolas.

Oriental Reed-Warbler caught in mist-net
Unfortunately the opportunity for a second early morning birding session at Kratie - and therefore probably our best shot at the target, Asian Golden Weaver - was squandered due to an entirely avoidable accident caused by the negligence of our otherwise excellent guide, Mardy Sean. Enough said about that particular matter.

We headed south from Kratie to the outskirts of Phnom Penh where we looked without success at the traditional site for the recently discovered Cambodian Tailorbird. Again, the area was extensively flooded with the tail end of the wet season dumping plenty of rain.

Cambodian Tailorbird

Cambodian Tailorbird
We moved on to a second site closer to the capital where we finally had success with a pair of obliging birds.
Helping out the locals... tailorbird site near Phnom Penh
 Plain Prinia was also here.

Plain Prinia
As was Malaysian Pied Fantail.

Malaysian Pied Fantail

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