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Photographs of bird-life on Cambodia’s Sangkar River

A few photos of some of the spectacular bird-life we’ve come across on recent boat trips down western Cambodia’s Sangkar River. (Would have a lot more for you but since it’s tricky getting sharp shots of fast moving birds from a heavily vibrating boat we had to delete most of them!?) The Sangkar River begins in the mountains to the south of Battambang and flows through the provincial capital of the same name, through stretches of Battambang and Siem Reap Provinces before emerging into the southwest corner of the vast Tonle Sap Lake. Much of the latter part of the river’s course is through seasonally flooded, relatively pristine, marshland and ‘flooded forest.

Asian open-billed stork
Asian open-billed stork

In this astonishing and still little known environment superlatives abound: Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia (2,500 sq kms dry season to 12,000 wet season), the largest freshwater swamp habitat in Southeast Asia, the most important waterbird habitat in Southeast Asia, has the largest colonies of endangered waterbirds in Southeast Asia and so-on!

Lesser cormorant
Lesser cormorant

The area of flooded forest to the east of the river’s mouth, as it joins, the lake forms Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary – home to no less than 7 globally threatened species with; the world’s largest colonies of Oriental Darters, Spot-billed Pelicans and Greater Adjutants and Southeast Asia’s largest colonies of Black-hooded Ibis, Lesser Adjutants, Painted Storks and only colony of Milky Storks.

Spot-billed Pelican
Spot-billed Pelican
Pair of Pelicans on the Sangkar River
Pair of Pelicans on the Sangkar River

Other common water-birds include huge flocks of: Asian Open-billed Storks, Greater and Lesser Cormorants, Lesser, Intermediate and Great Egrets whilst further upstream you’ll encounter Brahminy Kites, Black-shouldered Kites, Grey-headed Fish-eagles and perhaps even Marsh-harriers.

The rare Oriental Darter
The rare Oriental Darter

Spectacular Pied Kingfishers, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and the long tailed Malkohas are also common sightings and indeed most of the above listed species can be easily spotted sitting in the comfort of our own boat so…..wellies and anoraks not required!

Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher

The winter months when many water-birds migrate from Manchuria and Siberia are best but there’s plenty of avian activity all year round and other sightings such as the rare Indochinese Silver Langur are more common in the dry season.

You’ll find some accounts of various incidents on our journey along the Sangkar River at these links (an eventful dry season trip) & (stuck on the Sangkar), and in our next post we’ll look at some of the fascinating human activity along the river.

The amazing boat journey from Siem Reap to Battambang is featured in the following tours: Indochina Adventure, Ruined Cities and Tropical islands, Cambodia Overland, Beyond Angkor, Saigon to Bangkok Overland and our photography special, Images of Cambodia.

Cheers!