Posts from May 2016

Birding for much desired targets with Keith Betton, Andrew Herbert (UK) and Rainer Kopa (Germany).

May 08, 2016

Another memorable 21-day birding trip (April 17 – May 7, 2016) along the Eastern Andes, Central Andes & Santa Marta Mountains! It all started with a list of 47 country endemics, birds highly wanted to be seen by Keith, Andrew & Rainer.  Nine species were located in sites that were extremely difficult to visit and the other 38 species were widely spread all over the country. After carefully reviewing all reachable sites where those 38 species could be seen, Daniel designed an itinerary that maximized the number of targets to be seen in a 3-week tour.

The itinerary favored the Eastern & Central Andes, and the Santa Marta Mountains, and it took us through amazing birding sites in Colombia, starting near Bogota with Monterredondo, Paramo de Guasca, Laguna de Fuquene, Rogitama, Soata dry forests (Chicamocha canyon), Paramo La Rusia & Onzaga oak forests, La Florida wetland, Enchanted Gardens & Tabacal Lagoon, all in the Eastern Andes. We then traveled briefly through the mid-Magdalena Valley & Ibague area, climbed the Central Andes dropping into the Cauca Valley, visiting Finlandia, Otun-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary, Santa Rosa de Cabal, Montezuma (mountainous Choco), Los Nevados National Park, Rio Blanco & Hotel Tinamu near Manizales. The final leg of the tour included a domestic flight to Santa Marta, birding the iconic Santa Marta Mountains and Isla de Salamanca Park.

In summary, we saw and enjoyed 59 target species, including the following Colombian endemics (30): Cauca Guan, Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Tolima Dove, Santa Marta Parakeet, Brown-breasted Parakeet, Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Fuerte´s Parrot, Santa Marta Screech-Owl, Chestnut-bellied & Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Black Inca, Cundinamarca Antpitta, Brown-banded Antpitta, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Apical Flycatcher, Niceforo´s Wren, Turquoise Dacnis, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta & Tolima Blossomcrown, Santa Marta & Bang´s Wood-Wren, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Buffy Helmetcrest, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta Antbird, Munchique Wood-Wren, Yellow-headed Brush-Finch and Velvet-fronted Euphonia.

From left to right: Keith Betton, Andrew Herbert, Daniel Uribe and Rainer Kopa, at the San Lorenzo ridge (Santa Marta Mountains), just after seeing the endemic Brown-rumped Tapaculo.

We also saw nine (9) much desired near-endemics, including the Hooded Antpitta, Colombian Screech-Owl, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Black-thighed, Golden-breasted & Coppery-bellied Puffleg, Coppery Emerald, Moustached Antpitta & Moustached Brush-Finch.

And we saw twenty (20) additional species that were lifers for either Keith, Andrew or Rainer: Band-tailed Guan, Streak-backed Canastero, Subtropical Doradito, Purple-backed Thornbill, Grey-headed Dove, Lined Quail-Dove, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Lazuline Sabrewing, White-browed & Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Flammulated Treehunter, Pale-bellied Hermit, Russet-throated Puffbird, Slate-crowned Antpitta, Long-tailed Tapaculo, Coopman´s Tyrannulet, Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch & Slate-coloured Seedeater.

Unfortunately, we missed 8 targets. The Apolinar´s Wren did not show up, probably because the reeds at the edge of the lagoons were badly affected by an unusually strong drought as a consequence of El Niño. We were rained-out the morning that we visited Bellavista forest, missing Beautiful Woodpecker & Sooty Ant-Tanager. The Black-backed Thornbill was not coming to the feeders at El Dorado Lodge, the Bicolored Antpitta did not show up for worms at Rio Blanco and the Santa Marta Antpitta refused good looks. Also, we looked hard but missed the Mountain Grackle & Green-bearded Helmetcrest.

Overall, a very good trip where we saw nearly 90% of the desired targets!

Posts from April 2016

Birding the Western & Central Andes with Richard & Jennifer Kershaw from UK (March 10-31, 2016).

Apr 01, 2016

First time in Colombia for Richard & Jennifer Kershaw from UK, birding the Western and Central Andes, with the Cauca Valley in between. Tour started in Cali and finished 22 days later in Medellin (March 10-31, 2016), visiting the following main birding localities:

  • Cloud forests at Km 18, Finca Alejandría (hummingbird & tanager feeders, gardens), Restaurant “Aquí me quedo” (feeders) & San Antonio Forest above Cali;
  • El Vinculo dry forest near Buga;
  • Sonso marsh;
  • Cerro Montezuma (mountain humid forest to top of the mountain, lodge feeders & gardens);
  • Pre-montane humid forest at Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary;
  • Cameguadua marsh;
  • Los Nevados National Park (paramo ecosystems & elfin forest on tree line, and the hummingbird feeders at Hotel Nevado del Ruiz);
  • Rio Blanco (three antpitta feeding stations, cloud forests along the ridge, hummingbird & tanager feeders on lodge, gardens);
  • Bolombolo dry forests at Quebrada Sinifana;
  • Cock-of-the-Rock lek & cloud forest along the road to Ventana´s Pass, forests at ProAves´s Yellow-eared Parrot reserve & hummingbird feeders at Doña Lucía´s house, above Jardin;
  • Shaded coffee plantations & forest fragments at Morro Amarillo;
  • Las Tangaras at Carmen de Atrato;
  • Mountain forests at “La M” on the road to Urrao;
  • La Romera ecopark;
  • Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve in the northern tip of the Central Andes.

Richard & Jen Kershaw having lunch at Restaurante Aquí me Quedo, above Cali in Km 18.

We enjoyed bird after bird, sighting 23 country endemics, 17 near-endemics and more than 40 specialties. In total, 89 lifers for Richard & Jen, including three highly desired species that had been denied in previous trips to Ecuador and other South American countries: Sword-billed Hummingbird, White-capped Tanager and Ocellated Tapaculo.

Country endemics seen (23): Cauca Guan, Colombian Chachalaca, Chestnut Wood-Quail, Yellow-eared Parrot, Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Buffy Helmetcrest, White-mantled Barbet, Greyish Piculet, Parker´s Antbird, Brown-banded Antpitta, Stiles´s & Alto de Pisones Tapaculo, Chestnut-capped Piha, Apical Flycatcher, Antioquia Wren, Munchique Wood-Wren, Black-and-Gold & Gold-ringed Tanager, Multicoloured Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Sooty & Crested Ant-Tanager, and Red-bellied Grackle.

Near-endemics seen (17): Colombian Screech-Owl, Black-thighed Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Bar-crested Antshrike, Bicoloured Antpitta, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Hooded Antpitta, Nariño Tapaculo, Yellow-headed Manakin, Sooty-headed Wren, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Black-headed Brush-Finch, Velvet-purple Coronet and Uniform Treehunter.

Equally valuable, we saw magnificent specialties, including the following: Highland Tinamou, Semi-collared Hawk, Spectacled Parrotlet, White-tipped Sicklebill, Blue-headed Sapphire, White-tailed Hillstar, Crested Quetzal, Black-billed Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Powerful Woodpecker, White-browed Spinetail, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Western Woodhaunter, Streak-capped Treehunter, Andean Leaftosser, Tyranine Woodcreeper, Brown-billed Scythebill, Rufous-rumped & Yellow-breasted Antwren, Blue-lored & Zeledon´s Antbird, Plain-backed Antpitta, White-crowned Tapaculo, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Scaled Fruiteater, Olivaceous Piha, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Plumbeous-crowned & Ashy-headed Tyrannulet, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, White-headed & Chestnut-breasted Wren, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Flame-rumped Tanager, Olive Finch, Slate-coloured Seedeater and Red-hooded Tanager.

We had an incredible encounter with a Semi-collared Hawk at Las Tangaras forest while the bird was in a hunt. Photo taken by Jen Kershaw.

Posts from February 2016

Second birding trip for Steve Huggins & Glenn Giacinto from Chicago (USA).

Feb 03, 2016

After touring the Central Andes in 2014, Steve Huggins and Glenn Giacinto came back to Colombia for a second time, this time focusing on birds largely restricted to the Eastern Andes.

From January 23 to February 2 (2016) we visited a nice array of birding localities, including the Observatorio de Colibríes at La Calera, Pedro Palo Lagoon & Chicaque Park, Chingaza National Park & Siecha gravel pits, Paramo de Guasca & Pantano de Martos, Fúquene Lagoon, Rogitama, Paramo de Onzaga, Soata scrubland & oak forests, Paramo de Sumapaz, Tabacal Lagoon and the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco. All in just 11 days!

A nice list of hummingbird lifers gradually build up for Steve & Glenn, including the Green-bearded Helmetcrest (E&VU), Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird (E&EN), Black Inca (E&VU), Indigo-capped Hummingbird (E), Bronze-tailed Thornbill (NE), Coppery-bellied Puffleg (NE&NT), Golden-bellied Starfrontlet (NE), Blue-throated Starfrontlet (NE), Gorgeted Woodstar, Red-billed Emerald (NE), Short-tailed Emerald (NE), Lazuline Sabrewing, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird and Green-tailed Trainbearer.

Gladly, the skulking and cryptic also went into the bag, including great birds such as Blue-lored Antbird, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Pale-bellied Tapaculo (NE), Streak-backed Canastero, Silvery-throated Spinetail (E), Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Rosy-thrush Tanager, Black-headed Brush-Finch (NE) and Moustached Brush-Finch (NE).

From left to right: Alejandro Rico (our local guide for Sumapaz), Daniel Uribe, Steve Huggins & Glenn Giacinto, after seeing the Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Apolinar´s Wren and Noble Snipe at Paramo de Sumapaz.

The marshes we visited yielded many more lifers, with great views of the endemic & endangered Apolinar´s Wren (seen at Sumapaz), Bogota Rail (E&EN), Noble Snipe, Andean Teal, Subtropical Doradito and Yellow-hooded Blackbird.

The precious Colombian Mountain Grackle (E&EN) showed up at Soata´s oak forests, as well as the critically endangered Niceforo´s Wren (E) and the scarce Black-banded Woodcreeper. Visiting the Pantano de Martos near Guasca was most rewarding, with an unforgettable encounter of the beautiful & rare Black-chested Mountain-Tanager and close views of the Andean Pygmy-Owl.

Other lifers included the endemics Velvet-fronted Euphonia & Turquoise Dacnis, near-endemics Gray-throated Warbler, Rufous-browed Conebill and Black-headed Hemispingus, and the Striped Manakin, Cinereous Becard and Bluish Flowerpiercer. In summary, 42 lifers total!

Posts from November 2015

Birding along the Western & Central Andes of Colombia with Bob & Katie Self from the UK.

Nov 29, 2015

A memorable 18-day birding trip along the Western & Central Andes of Colombia, starting in Cali and finishing in Medellin. From November 9 to 26 (2015) and from south to north, we birded the San Antonio cloud forest, Finca Alejandria, the road to Dapa, the forest at Santa Eulalia Lodge, Sonso Marsh, El Vinculo reserve, Mountain Choco at Cerro Montezuma, Otun-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary, Cameguadua marsh, timberline forests and paramo ecosystems at Los Nevados National Park, montane Rio Blanco, the Bolombolo dry forests, Ventanas´s Pass above Jardin, Las Tangaras reserve and La Romera Ecopark.

Moving from one great birding site to the other, we saw 441 species, of which 118 species were lifers for Bob & Katie. We had many close encounters with magnificent birds, including 44 species of hummingbirds, 55 species of flycatchers, 76 species of tanagers & allies, 12 species of woodpeckers, 19 endemics & 30 near-endemics. Bob & Katie wanted to improve their listings on hard-to-see species, and as an end result we managed to see well 9 species of antpittas, 7 tapaculos, 12 wrens, 21 warblers and 9 species of cotingas, among many others.

Photo: Bob & Katie at Cerro Montezuma, where we enjoyed tons of birds, including close views of Black Solitaire (NE), Yellow-breasted Antpitta (NE&VU) & Tanager Finch (NE&VU) following an ant swarm, and great views of Munchique Wood-Wren (E&CR), Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer (E&EN), Indigo Flower-Piercer (NE), Gold-ringed Tanager (E&EN), Black-and-Gold Tanager (E&VU), Glistening-green Tanager (NE), Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Beautiful Jay (NE&NT), Golden-collared Honeycreeper (NE), Yellow-collared (NE) & Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias, Alto de Pisones Tapaculo (E), Zeledon´s Antbird and many others.

Posts from October 2015

Birding in Colombia from the Western Andes to the Santa Marta Mountains & Guajira peninsula, with a recapitulation in the mid-Magdalena Valley & Eastern Andes: two subsequent birding trips for David & Nancy Massie (UK), and Bruce Webb & Peter Gent (USA).

Oct 29, 2015

This was the second birding trip to Colombia for David & Nancy Massie, with a challenging list of target endemics, near-endemics & specialties from the Western Andes, Cauca Valley, northern Central Andes, Santa Marta Mountains & Guajira peninsula. From October 1-14, we birded Kilometer 18 above Cali, Sonso Marsh, Cerro Montezuma, Las Tangaras Reserve, “La M” above Carmen de Atrato and Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve in the northern tip of the Central Andes. Followed with an extension of 5 nights/6 days to the Santa Marta Mountains & Guajira peninsula, from October 15-20.

Overall, David & Nancy were able to add 61 new species to their life list! At Kilometro 18 the top species included Multicolored Tanager (E&VU), Blue-headed Sapphire, Nariño Tapaculo (NE) and Metallic-green Tanager. Sonso Marsh provided close views of the Cocoa Woodcreeper, and visiting Cerro Montezuma allowed the addition of key lifers such as Fulvous-dotted Treerunner (NT), Olivaceous Piha, Munchique Wood-Wren (E&CR), Black Solitaire (NE), Gold-ringed Tanager (E&EN), Yellow-collared Chlorophonia (NE), Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Olive Finch, Alto Pisones Tapaculo (E) and Chestnut-bellied Flower-Piercer (E&EN). At Las Tangaras reserve we had great views of the Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl (VU), Rufous-rumped Antwren, Handsome Flycatcher, Sooty-headed Wren (NE), Black-and-gold Tanager (E&VU) and Indigo Flower-Piercer (NE). Visiting the Chestnut-capped Piha reserve allowed more lifers such as Chestnut-crowned Gnateater (with a great photo taken by Nancy), Northern White-crowned Tapaculo, Chestnut-capped Piha (E&EN), Scarlet-and-white Tanager (NE), Crested Ant-Tanager (E), Black-headed Brush-Finch (NE) and Large-billed Seed-Finch.

Our party of three met with Bruce Webb & Peter Gent at El Dorado airport in Bogota as we all flew into Santa Marta on October 15th, birding the high altitudinal gradient from Minca to El Dorado Lodge & Cuchilla de San Lorenzo in the Santa Marta Mountains. Here, we were challenged by a sudden and unexpected onset of rainy days for the region, with long and frequent showers in the afternoons, but clear skies in the mornings that lasted until noon. We had great birding in the mountains, seeing well the endemics - Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Antpitta, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, White-tailed Starfrontlet (male & female), Santa Marta Woodstar (male & female), Santa Marta Antbird, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta Wood-Wren, Bang´s Wood-Wren, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, Colombian Brush-Finch, Santa Marta Brush-Finch, Santa Marta Warbler, White-lored Warbler and Yellow-crowned Whitestart, plus the near-endemics Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Coppery Emerald, White-tipped Quetzal, Streak-capped Spinetail and Golden-winged Sparrow.  Besides, we saw well specialties such as the Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Band-tailed & Sickle-winged Guans, Lined Quail-Dove, Scaly-naped Parrot, Long-billed Hermit, Lazuline Sabrewing, Moustached Puffbird, Santa Marta (Emerald) Toucanet, Venezuelan Tyrannulet, Rufous-breasted Wren, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Veery, Black-hooded Thrush, Plushcap and Golden-bellied Grosbeak, among many others.

From left to right: Daniel Uribe, Peter Gent, David & Nancy Massie, Juan Uriana (local guide) & Bruce Webb.

Our visit to Camarones & Perico in the Guajira Peninsula was ruled by extreme sun & heat, and nice birds such as the Chestnut Piculet (NE), White-whiskered Spinetail (NE), Orinoco Saltator (NE), Vermilion Cardinal (NE), Slender-billed Inezia (NE), Buffy Hummingbird, Double-striped Thick-Knee, Scaled Dove, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Ferruginous Pymy-Owl, Russet-throated Puffbird, Black-crested Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Pale-legged (Caribbean) Hornero, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Glaucous Tanager and Pileated Finch, among many others.

On the last day for David & Nancy, we enjoyed seeing the Chestnut-winged Chachalaca (E), Shinning-green Hummingbird and Lineated Woodpecker at El Vale near Santa Marta, and the Bicolored Conebill, Golden-green Woodpecker and Panama Flycatcher at Isla de Salamanca.

The second half of the trip for Bruce & Peter had a wonderful start at the Llanogrande gravel pits near Rionegro, where we enjoyed seeing at close distance and for a long time a male of Masked Duck with two females, a curious Blackish Rail, two Soras and an adult & juvenile Purple Gallinule.

Rio Claro in the mid-Magdalena Valley was very hot & humid (as always), presenting to us scope views of the endemic Beautiful Woodpecker and really close views of a party of Silvery-brown Bare-Face Tamarins, including a mom carrying a baby on her back. We enjoyed a diverse set of birds while birding along the inner road of the reserve and the Mulata trail, including the Magdalena Antbird (E), Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Stripe-throated & Rufous-breasted Hermits, Blue-chested Hummingbird (building a nest), Broad-billed Motmot, Barred Puffbird, White-whiskered Puffbird, Chestnut-mandibled & Channel-billed (Citron-throated) Toucans, Olivaceous Piculet, Black-crowned (Western Slaty) Antshrike, Pacific & SlatyAntwrens, Long-tailed, Wedge-billed & Plain-brown Woodcreepers, Olivaceous Flatbill, Long-tailed Tyrant, One-colored Becard and the Black-bellied, Bay & Band-backed Wrens, among many other birds.

A quick visit to the initial sections of the road to Puerto Pinzon also yielded a very nice set of birds, including Northern Screamer (NE&NT), Scrub Greenlet, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Laughing Falcon, White-winged Swallow, Spectacled Parrotlet, Striped Cuckoo, Pied Puffbird and Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher.

Bellavista Forest in Victoria presented us with splendid views of White-mantled Barbet (E&VU), Sooty Ant-Tanager (E&NT), Velvet-fronted Euphonia (E), Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Pale-bellied Hermit, Sooty-headed Wren (NE), White-breasted Wood-Wren, Purple-crowned Fairy, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Golden-headed Manakin, Black-chested Jay, Golden-hooded Tanager and Orange-billed Sparrow, among others.

At Laguna de Tabacal we saw the Blue-lored Antbird (E), Gray-throated Warbler (NE&NT), White-bellied Antbird, Velvet-fronted Euphonia (E), Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Plain Antvireo, Checker-throated Antwren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Scrub Tanager (NE) and Slate-colored Seedeater.

Our visit to the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco was also very productive, with great views of the dominant Indigo-capped Hummingbird (E), Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird, Gorgeted Woodstar, Red-billed Emerald (NE) and Shinning-green Hummingbird, among others.

Laguna de Pedro Palo & Chicaque Ecopark provided great birding, with very nice mix flocks. We saw the Black Inca (E&VU), Moustached Brush-Finch (NE), Golden-bellied Starfrontlet (NE), Ash-browed & Stripe-breasted Spinetails, Thick-billed & Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finches, Mountain Velvetbreast, Cerulean Warbler, Fawn-breasted, Beryl-spangled & Metallic-green Tanagers, and many more.

Birding along the road to Chingaza National Park surprised us with close views of the Silvery-throated Spinetail (E), Bronze-tailed Thornbill (NE), Pale-bellied (Matorral) Tapaculo (NE), Golden-fronted Whitestart (NE), Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, White-chinned Thistletail, Crowned Chat-Tyrant, Black-backed Grosbeak and Andean Siskin. One of the highlights for the day was the unexpected view of a splendid male Purple-backed Thornbill!

Birding the Siecha gravel pits was also very productive, with the presence of Bogota Rail (E&EN), Noble Snipe, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Andean Teal, Ruddy Duck and Grassland Yellow-Finch.

Visiting Paramo de Guasca was most rewarding, with nice views of the endemic & vulnerable Brown-breasted Parakeet, Coppery-bellied Puffleg (NE&NT), Speckle-faced Parrot, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Amethyst-throated (Longuemare´s) Sunangel, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Powerful Woodpecker, Pearled Treerunner, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Black-capped, Superciliaried & Black-headed Hemispingus, Scarlet-bellied & Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanagers, Rufous-browed Conebill (NE) and Ochre-breasted Brush-Finch.

Our tour ended with a visit to the “Observatorio de colibríes” at La Calera, where we enjoyed the Black-tailed Trainbearer, Glowing Puffleg, Tyrian Metaltail, Sparkling & Green Violetears, quick views of Coppery-bellied Puffleg (NE&NT) and second views of female Blue-throated Starfrontlet (NE).

In total, we saw 436 species (plus 17 species heard only) and most importantly, had great fun while birding!

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