Koh Ker Beng Mealea (KKBML)
Koh Ker is a remote temple site about 120 kilometers northeast of Siem Reap. Being there to experience lonely temples left to the jungle for a millennium and mostly unrestored, this archaeological site has been rarely visited until recently. It is situated in dry Dipterocarp with some semi-evergreen forest providing excellent habitat for wildlife. Birds potentially include 8 species of woodpeckers, Rufous-winged Buzzard, White-rumped Pygmy-falcon, Collared Falconet, Indochinese Bushlark, Velvet-fronted and Neglected Nuthatch.
After finishing Koh Ker on the way back to Siem Reap, followed by a visit to Beng Mealea, a sprawling jungle temple covering over one square kilometer overrun by vegetation.
The temple was built as a Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting Buddha motifs. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. The temple area also contains some good semi-evergreen forest that gives birders a chance to pick up some migrant species such as Hainan Blue Flycatcher, White-throated Rock Thrush etc. Over 150 species have been recorded while about 60 species of them are seen during a day trip there.
A trip to Koh Ker Beng Mealea usually done with a full day trip from Siem Reap 5.30am to 5.30pm to get the most of it. However, when there’s a trip from Siem Reap to the Northern Plains (such as Tmatboey, Vulture Restaurant, Okoki), every group gains the opportunity to do birding en-route for the white-rumped Pygmy Falcon near Koh Ker and may visit the temples if we wish and time allows.