Sunday, 11 January 2015

Giant, White-shouldered and Black-headed Ibises

Critically endangered White-shouldered Ibis roosting at Tmatboey, Cambodoa, 24 Dec 2014
Is it possible to combine a non-birding family holiday with a hardcore birding trip? Well, you'd have to ask Gill and the kids to find out their side of the story, but here are the three species of ibises that I saw during our recent break. My elder daughter certainly seemed to enjoy watching and photographing the White-shouldered Ibises coming into roost at Tmatboey, Cambodia, on Christmas Eve. The sunset certainly added to the occasion.

I could not get any takers for the 4:00 am rise the next morning to watch a pair of Giant Ibises waking up for the day. It is understandable that non-birding teenagers would rate this as low on their priority list on any morning of the year, but I did warn them that should they take up birding later in life they may regret their decision... As it happens, that morning at Tmatboey was not just about another critically endangered ibis species, but was packed full of amazing dry dipterocarp forest species. It ended up as the most enjoyable early morning birding trip I've ever had - I was seeing so many amazing new species at such a fast rate that it felt just like Christmas...

Two critically endangered Giant Ibises about to leave their roost Tmatboey, Cambodia, 25 December 2014

We had already seen the Black-shouldered Ibises at Prek Toal, Tonle Sap, a couple of days earlier. Tonle Sap is both South East Asia's largest lake and largest waterbird colony and it was enjoyed equally by all, birder and nonbirders alike. The wealth of wildlife, some of which was at close quarters, was staggering, and of equal interest were the fascinating floating and stilted villages, housing communities that make their living on or from this lake, the size of a small sea.

One of several Black-headed Ibises seen at Prek Toal, Tonle Sap, Cambodia, 23 December 2014
Many thanks to the Sam Veasna Centre and to our guide Sophoan for all their help in making this trip so successful.