We took a recent tour of both the places above - not a wildlife holiday, but you know, the bins and camera are strangely always within reach. I'll skip the temples and stuff (mostly) and stick to the wildlife. One problem, in Laos, wildlife, including small birds, is regarded as a free source of protein, so there are very few birds in many areas. Well, at least butterflies are off the menu... (Deep fried silkworm larvae are not, however, and they're really quite delicious). We'll start with Laos...
Tree Sparrows were really common. Urban birds are pretty safe, they're not hunted in town!
There's a Sun Bear sanctuary for those rescued from the bile trade. Yep, bear's bile is used in Chinese medicine - it has no proven benefits, but why let that stop a cruel trade?
We'll leave Laos with a Mekong sunset (it is obligatory to take pictures of sunsets, some Laotians find it hilarious, mostly on the grounds that it is a daily occurrence)!
Welcome to Cambodia...
Equally obligatory Angkor Wat dawn shot...
Shikra - these small hawks are almost totally fearless. I've walked right past one on a gate post in India, it just glared at me.
Painted Storks with Spot-billed Pelican escort
There were plenty more birds in Cambodia, but not that many chances of getting decent pics - they were mostly in the canopy. It's also very, very inadvisable to stray off the path in some areas in both countries. partly munitions left over from the Vietnam war and partly mines from internal conflict...
Also, if you ever go to Cambodia and stop at the "Spider Village" (actually an open-air market) don't bother eating a tarantula, they taste OK but the oil they're cooked in is a bit rancid... ;-)
"Let loose the Kraken!"
Wow, very nice pictures Stuart, can't see me ever getting to those two places but the wildlife must have been wonderful to see even without getting a picture of some of them.
In reply to James:
Certainly a thread with a difference Stuart ! great to see some unusual species along with great photos. What an interesting place and I love the stare from the Shikra - reminds me of our sparrowhawk with those glaring eyes !
What pretty butterflies they have but a pity some birds are on the menu, it's to be hoped that the younger generation will eventually put paid to that side of their historical culture and learn that not all medicines or food dishes sourced from birds are that beneficial after all. Takes generations to hopefully faze out some cruel practices but not sure I'll see that change in my lifetime :(
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In reply to HAZY:
Lovely photos from your holiday Stuart, thanks for sharing.Some very unusual looking birds there.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
In reply to Catlady:
Glad to see you posting again, Stuart. It's good to see wildlife and scenery from the exotic locations you visit which most of us will never get to see.
I think some of the butterflies might be ones I've seen in the RHS "Butterfly Event" which they hold annually at Wisley. Much better to see them in the wild though. I've see African Darters (aka Snake Birds) in Gambia. Are they the same species or an oriental variation?
Luckily, I wasn't planning on eating a tarantula but thanks for the warning.
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In reply to TeeJay:
They're Oriental Darters Tony. I've seen Darters in Central America too - don't ask me what the difference is between the three species though! We're doing the long haul trips while I'm still working and before the travel insurance gets expensive.
Very interesting thread Stuart, nice to see you back too. Beautiful butterflies, spiders I wouldn't give a home to, and unusual birds, not to mention the lovely sunset, again places I won't get to see and love to read about.
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