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                     Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary

The sanctuary at the Prek Toal core area of the Biosphere Reserve has been called "the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened large waterbirds." The Biosphere covers 31,282 hectares at the northwest tip of the Lake and plays host to species including Greater and Lesser Adjuncts, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Milky Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle and many more species. Of the three Biosphere core areas on the Tonle Sap Lake, Prek Toal is the most accessible from Siem Reap and the most popular with birdwatchers. The best time of year for viewing is the dry season (December-May) when flocks of migratory birds congregate at Prek Toal. As the dry season progresses and the water recedes, the number of birds increases but the travel to some of the more important viewing areas becomes more difficult.

Arrange a trip to Prek Toal through your guesthouse or a tour operator. To do it yourself, take a moto or taxi from Siem Reap to the Chong Khneas boat dock. Arrange a boat to the Prek Toal Environmental Research Station (starting at $60 return,) a $20 entrance fee and $30 for a guided boat tour of the sanctuary. The Research Station has information on the area's flora and fauna. There are also basic overnight accommodations if you want to stay the night to take full advantage of the sunset and early morning viewing hours.




            More Bird Watching
Away from the lake, northwest of Siem Reap the Ang Trapeng Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve offers another unique birdwatching opportunity.

Ang Trapeng Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve
(The following about Ang Trapeng Thmor comes courtesy of the Sam Veasna Center.) Originating as a reservoir on the Angkorian highway 66 it was rebuilt as a man-made irrigation and water storage reservoir by slave labor during the Khmer Rouge Regime in 1976. The reservoir now harbors a unique wetland associated with grassland, dipterocarp forests and paddy fields. Aside from being a feeding ground for more than 300 Sarus Crane in the dry (non-breeding) season, more than 200 species of other birds occur here, of which 18 have been classified as globally or near globally threatened. This is also one of the handful of sites in Cambodia where the endangered Eld’s Deer can be seen. Colonies of fruit bats inhabit larger trees that are often semi submerged on the edge of the reservoir.

The best time to see the Sarus Crane is from February to May though an abundance of bird species can be viewed all year. There is also a hill top Angkorian temple a few kilometers into the forest while traditional silk weaving is still practiced in the adjacent village. A boat trip can be taken on the reservoir which depending on the time of year is 11km along and 8 wide and offers fantastic views of the surrounding countryside


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