Black Bittern, Phnom Krom rice fields, September 10th

Black Bittern, Phnom Krom rice fields, September 10th 2015.
Black Bittern, Phnom Krom rice fields, September 10th 2015.

With a free morning before the obligatory Angkor temples tour tomorrow, I decided to once again visit the rice fields at Phnom Krom – for the second time this year. My main targets were White-browed Crake, Black Bittern and Asian Golden Weaver, the latter two species in particular being potentially easier to find in summer than during my previous visit in February.

In the event, I scored with only one of the three targets, but I did so in some style. Walking alongside a drainage ditch, I noticed a movement below the fringing vegetation almost under my feet, which turned out to be a fine male Black Bittern. Seeing as I was so close, the bird elected to try and hide instead of flying off, so I was able to reel off some fairly decent photos with my point-and-shoot camera. Black Bittern is mainly a summer visitor to south east Asia, and a rather skulking and secretive one at that. It is therefore not seen by many visiting birders, who usually come to the area in winter.

This morning’s supporting cast included two Watercock (only the second time I have seen this species), and several distant Oriental Pratincoles. Also among 34 bird species seen in the area were two Yellow Bitterns, a Cinnamon Bittern, a Lesser Whistling Duck, a pair of Cotton Pygmy Geese, a handful of migrant Wood Sandpipers, a Black-collared Starling, and a most unexpected Rufous Woodpecker.

Lifer: Black Bittern (total 1,987).

2015 Year Ticks: Watercock, Oriental Pratincole (total 898).

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