Bird Watching Report by Sam Veasna Center

In the beginning of June 2018, we had the pleasure of hosting Sam Veasna Center for Wildlife Conservation at Cardamom Tented Camp. The organization provides ethical bird watching and wildlife tours in Cambodia.  Below you will find their report and an extensive list of all the 55 species recorded over their four-day stay.

For more information about Sam Veasna Center and their work in the wildlife ecotourism field, click here.

While this report does not describe our standard packages, we can arrange similar customized programs for guests and special interest groups.

Day 1: June 2
Cardamom Tented Camp

Today, we left Siem Reap early at around 4 a.m. and drove along the NR6 towards Phnom Penh.  We crossed over Prek Pnov Bridge in the suburbs of the capital and continued on the NR4 which we took straight to Sre Ambel town in Koh Kong Province.  From there we continued along the NR48 to Trapeang Roung village and eventually arrived at the bridge in the village over the Trapeang Rung River, where the departure pier for Cardamom Tented Camp is located.

At the departure pier, we climbed aboard a boat for the one-hour journey up river to Cardamom Tented Camp (CTC).  It was a remarkable journey that took us deep into the natural surroundings with many sightings of birds along the way.  We arrived at CTC in the late afternoon at about 3:15 p.m. and were welcomed by camp staff who took us to the reception area.

We were then given a tour of the facilities which are really amazing and great for bird watching in Cambodia. The tents are located in such an isolated and secluded spot, if you didn’t know how to get to CTC, you wouldn’t be able to find them.  Although there are only nine tents altogether, they can accommodate up to 18 people, so if you were coming as a family, CTC would have no problem to accommodating you.

On our first night at the camp we had a very special dinner, prepared by the camp’s chef. The amok we had was absolutely delicious and the chocolate lava cake we ate was fabulous – everything was perfect! At about 8:30 p.m., we took a short walk around the camp. It was very dark and all we could hear was the screeching of an owl and a few bats flitting around us, so we walked back to the camp.

Day 2: June 3
Hiking with Wildlife Alliance Ranger Team

We slept very well and in the morning we got up early and enjoyed a lovely breakfast of fried rice and yoghurt with fruit. At about 8:15 a.m. we took the boat back to the CTC pier in Trapeang Roung village. We then drove from there along the NR48 for almost half an hour, before stopping to meet up with the Wildlife Alliance ranger team. They escorted us to a place where Dr.  Tom Gray, who is the science director for Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia, had put up several camera traps that had captured some unique photos of a white-eared night heron.

We did not see any heron in this area, so we then drove for about another hour through the concession managed by Wildlife Alliance and arrived at a large stream where Dr. Gray had also installed some camera traps.  We began hiking along the stream and found ourselves surrounded by dense jungle, without any paths or tracks.  We hiked along the stream for about two hours, but failed to find any evidence of the while-eared night heron. Due to it being Rainy Season in Cambodia, the weather was quite bad and it was not possible to camp near the camera traps to see if we could get a sighting of the herons.  In the end we all decided to head back to CTC.  That evening, we were all so exhausted we did nothing except have dinner and go straight to bed.

Day 3: June 4
Kayaking with Cardamom Tented Camp Guides

The next day we had a great opportunity to explore the area with two guides from CTC – Mr. Synam and Mr. Tina.  At about 8:30 a.m., we headed down to the jetty on the river where we climbed into the kayaks waiting for us.  I was in one of the single kayaks while the other two members of our group were in a two-seater kayak. We paddled up river for about 4.5 km until we reached the ranger station which is very close to the river. Inside we were shown many snares and traps, as well as homemade guns, which the rangers had confiscated from poachers.

Along the river’s edge, where there was some beautiful forest, we saw a whole variety of birds including white-rumped shama, black-and-red broadbill, and green-eared barbet.  After taking a short break at the ranger station, we crossed the river and began to hike back to CTC. The kayaks were picked up by the boat that had followed us up the river to the ranger station and taken back to CTC.

This short walk back to CTC was really fun and enjoyable, even though we came across many leeches and lots of mosquitoes.  We also spotted a lot of birds and heard many others calling in the trees around us.  Our guide also explained to us the plants and fruits that we passed, and talked about some of his experiences working in Chi Pat, a village deep in the Cardamom Mountains that is the site of a community-based eco-tourism project. The five-kilometer hike back to CTC took only an hour and 20 minutes.

In the afternoon after lunch, we headed out again to do some more bird watching and wildlife spotting at a place called Prek Khmao, but because it was raining so hard we returned to CTC after only a few hours with little success.  However, not long after arriving back at the camp, we enjoyed the most delicious food ever! Later that night we also had a lot of fun with ‘Hit’, one of the CTC staff, who took us to do some prawn fishing and we caught some too!

Day 4: June 5
Allan Michaud, Lodge Manager

This was our last morning at CTC, but it was our plan to head out early with Allan, the lodge manager, at 4 a.m. to first try and catch a glimpse of green peafowl roosting in the trees.  It turned out to be impossible because of the rain, so we ended up waiting another two hours.  Unfortunately, because we left late, we didn’t see any of the green peafowl, so we continued on by boat to the CTC departure lodge in Trapeang Roung village.  From there we drove to Phnom Penh and then on to Siem Reap, arriving at about 5:30 p.m.

White-Throated Kingfisher
Lesser whistling duck
Pinked-necked green pigeon
Pinked Necked Green Pigeon

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

By Jason Thompson (Flickr: Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Male & Female)) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

By Yiwenyiwen. [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons


BirdScientific Names of BirdsWhere to Find at CTC?
Germain’s swiftletAerodramus germanivery common along the river
Blue-eared kingfisher Alcedo menintinthis beautiful little kingfisher is resident to the area, mostly seen around 1 km from CTC downstream
Ochraceous bulbul Alophoixus ochraceusheard everywhere, while trekking in the forest and near CTC
Oriental pied-hornbill Anthracoceros albirostriscalling everyday near CTC, along the river
House swiftApus nipalensisroosting underneath Trapeang Roung Bridge
Little spiderhunter Archnothera longirostraone sighting in the forest near the ranger station
Chinese pond heronAredola baccusonly one bird seen near CTC, perched in tree
Greater coucalCentropus sinensisfour sightings, seen near the village
Ruby-cheeked sunbird Chalcoparia singalensistwo sightings at CTC
Blue-winged leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensisseveral birds came to feed in the trees behind the CTC reception house
Greater flameback Chrysocolaptes guttacristatusone sighting in flight while kayaking along the river to the ranger station.
Olive-backed sunbird Cinnyris jugularisone sighting at CTC
White-rumped shamaCopsychus malabaricusheard while kayaking to the ranger station
Indian roller Coracias benghalensissighted around the village and neighboring farm areas
Black-and-red broadbill Cymbrhynchus macrorhynchossighted between CTC and the ranger station – a pair of this beautiful bird perched on the bank
Lesser whistling duck Dendrocygna javanicatwo birds flying along the river near CTC.
Scarlet-backed flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatuma few sightings around CTC
Ashy drongo Dicrurus leucophaeusheard around CTC
Greater racket-tailed drongo Dicrurus paradiseuscommon bird sighted and heard around CTC
Green imperial pigeon Ducula aeneamany sightings along the river, as they are very common
White-bellied erponis Erpornis zantholeucathree sightings while walking back from the ranger station
Banded broadbillEurylaimus javanicusperched while tracking the heron and heard calling around CTC
Asian barred owletGlaucidium cuculoidesheard every day around CTC at dusk
Common hill myna Gracula religiosasaw feeding in tree around CTC
White-throated kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensissighted perched along both sides of the river
Red-headed trongonHarpactes erythrocephausone sighting while tracking from the ranger station back to CTC
Heart-spotted woodpecker Hemicricus canenteheard at CTC
Brown-backed needletialHirundapus giganteusflying over CTC
Blue pitta Hydronis cyaneusheard while stopping on the bridge in the Lyong Phat area
Black-naped monarch Hypothymis azureatwo sightings seen near CTC
Asian fairy-bluebird Irena puellaa common bird in this forest and also around CTC
Banded kingfisher Lacedo pulchellaheard while walking back to CTC from the ranger station
Gray-eyed bulbul Lole propinquaheard in the forest while we walked back from the ranger station
Vernal hanging parrot Loriculus vernaliscommonsighted along the river and also over CTC
Great eared nightjarLyncornis macrotistwo sightings flying at dusk in front of CTC
Black-and-buff woodpecker Meiglyptes jugularisone sighting at the bridge near where we went to search for the white-eared night-heron.
Chestnut-headed bee-eater Merops leschenaultiaseveral birds seen in flight not far from CTC
Pin-striped tit-babbler Mixornis gularistwo sightings at Prek Khmao, while kayaking and in the forest; very common
Orange-breasted trogonOrange-breasted trogonone sighting perched in a tree, while searching for the white-eared night heron
Dark-necked tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularisheard everywhere, behind the camp, forest and along the river
Green-billed malkohaPhaenicophaeus trististwo sightings along the river near CTC
Laced woodpecker Picus vittatusheard near CTC, this species loves to be near water
Blue-winged pittaPitta moluccensisone sighting while trekking back from the ranger station and heard calling around the camp every day
White-browed scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus schisticepsheard in the forest near the ranger station
Green-eared barbet Psilopogon faiostrictusseveral sightings along the river and at CTC
Lineated barbet Psilopogon lineatusone sighting near CTC
Sooty-headed bulbul Pycnonotus aurigasterfive sightings near the village; likes to stay in dry forest areas
Black-crested bulbul Pycnonotus aurigasterthree sightings around CTC; common birds
Streak-eared bulbul Pycnonotus conraditwo sightings seen near the village
Yellow-vented bulbul Pycnonotus conraditwo birds sighted on the way to the bridge, near the village
Stripe-throated bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysonivery common bird sighted around CTC
Crested serpent eagleSpilornis cheelaone sighting, perched in a tree near the peafowl area
Pinked-necked green pigeon Treron vernansmany sightings as they are very common
Abbott’s babbler Turdinus abbottiheard in the forest around CTC
Red-wattled lapwingVanellus indiustwo birds, flying near the village