Posts from September 2015

Colombia: The Eastern Andes, mid-Magdalena Valley, Santa Marta Mountains & La Guajira Peninsula birding trip for Katy Krigbaum & Birgit Felser.

Sep 22, 2015

From September 2 – 21 (2015) we managed to visit most of the best birding sites from Bogotá to Soatá in the Eastern Andes of Colombia, the mid-Magdalena Valley continuing north into Ocaña, the Santa Marta Mountains & La Guajira peninsula.

Above, the splendid morning view of the Santa Marta Mountains as we arrived to the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo.

In the Eastern Andes we birded Laguna de Pedro Palo & Chicaque Ecopark, Chingaza National Park, Siecha & Guasca gravel pits, the Observatorio de Colibríes “Alarte” at La Calera, Páramo de Guasca & Pantano de Martos, Laguna de Fúquene, Rogitama Nature Reserve, Páramo de Onzaga and dry forests at Soatá. Some of the highlights for this section of the tour were: Bogota Rail (E&EN), Spot-flanked Gallinule, Noble Snipe, Brown-breasted Parakeet (E&VU), Barred Parakeet, Andean Pygmy-Owl, Band-winged Nightjar, Andean Teal, Andean Guan, Amethyst-throated (Longuemare´s) Sunangel, Bronze-tailed Thornbill (NE), Coppery-bellied Puffleg (NE&NT),  Black Inca (E&VU), Golden-bellied (NE) & Blue-throated (NE) Starfrontlets, Short-tailed Emerald (NE), Lazuline Sabrewing, Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird (E&EN), Bar-crested Antshrike (NE), Rufous Antpitta, Ocellated Tapaculo, Pale-bellied (Matorral) Tapaculo (NE), Black-banded Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, White-chinned Thistletail, Streak-backed Canastero, Ash-browed Spinetail, Silvery-throated Spinetail (E), Black-collared Jay, Apolinar´s Wren (E&EN), Whiskered & Rufous Wrens, Paramo Pipit, Scrub Tanager (NE), Rufous-browed Conebill (NE), Plushcap, Dull-colored Grassquit, Moustached Brush-Finch (NE), Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch, Golden-fronted Whitestart (NE) and Mountain Grackle (E&EN).

We then dropped into the mid-Magdalena Valley, birding Laguna de Tabacal & the Enchanted Gardens at San Francisco de Sales, Bellavista Forest at Victoria, the initial section of the road to Puerto Pinzón near “El 2.5”, Rio Claro Nature Reserve (visiting “El Cóndor” Oilbird cave), marshes near Río Lebrija and the Hormiguero de Torcoroma Nature Reserve in Ocaña. We had excellent views of Northern Screamer (NE&NT), Colombian Chachalaca (E), Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Black-hawk Eagle, Double-toothed Kite, White-rumped Hawk, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Dwarf Cuckoo, Oilbird, Indigo-capped Hummingbird (E), Barred & Moustached Puffbirds, White-mantled Barbet (E&VU), Chestnut-mandibled & Channel-billed (Citron-throated) Toucans, Beautiful Woodpecker (E), Cinnamon Woodpecker, Recurve-billed Bushbird (NE&E), Klage´s Antbird, Magdalena Antbird (E), White-bellied, Bicolored & Jet Antbirds, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Apical Flycatcher (E), Striped, Golden-headed & White-bearded Manakins, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Black-chested Jay, White-thighed Swallow, Black-bellied Wren, Chestnut-bellied Thrush, Slate-colored Seedeater, Sooty Ant-Tanager (E&NT), Cerulean Warbler (VU), Gray-throated Warbler (NE&NT) and Velvet-fronted Euphonia (E).


Above: Birgit & Katy on their last day of tour, visiting Isla de Salamanca National Park near Santa Marta & Barranquilla.

The trip continued north into the Santa Marta Mountains, birding the high altitudinal gradient from Minca to El Dorado Nature Reserve & Cuchilla de San Lorenzo. Here, we enjoyed seeing the Santa Marta Parakeet (E&EN), Santa Marta Screech-Owl (E&CR), Sickle-winged & Band-tailed Guans, Santa Marta Blossomcrown (E&VU), White-tailed Starfrontlet (E), Santa Marta Woodstar (E), Santa Marta (Emerald) & Groove-billed Toucanets, Santa Marta Antbird (E), Santa Marta Tapaculo (E), Brown-rumped Tapaculo (E), Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner (E), Streak-capped Spinetail (NE), Rusty-headed Spinetail (E&VU), Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant (E&EN), Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Santa Marta (E) & Bang´s (E) Wood-Wrens, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager (E), Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Colombian Brush-Finch (E), Golden-winged Sparrow (NE), Santa Marta Brush-Finch (E), Santa Marta Warbler (E&VU), White-lored Warbler (E&NT) and Yellow-crowned Whitestart (E), among many others.

The final leg of the trip included La Guajira Peninsula at Camarones & Perico, with a final visit to “El Vale” near Santa Marta and Isla de Salamanca National Park on the road to Barranquilla. We had great views of the Chestnut-winged Chachalaca (E), Reddish Egret (NT), Crested Bobwhite,  Double-striped Thick-Knee, Scaled Dove, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Red-billed Emerald (NE), Shinning-green Hummingbird, Pied & Russet-throated Puffbirds, Chestnut Piculet (NE), Golden-green Woodpecker, White-whiskered Spinetail (NE), Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Slender-billed Inezia (NE), Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Bicolored Conebill, Pileated Finch, Orinoco Saltator (NE), Tocuyo Sparrow (NE), Vermillion Cardinal (NE) and Trinidad Euphonia, among others.

The most popular sports in Colombia are soccer and cycling. During our tour, we enjoyed following the news of La Vuelta a España, where Colombian racer Nairo Quintana ended 4th after running sick for several days. We greatly enjoyed stopping at Nairo´s home between Arcabuco and Tunja, where we took this nice photo of the painted wall in the front porch of the house.

Posts from August 2015

Bird photo tour for photographers from Taiwan & China: The Western & Central Andes of Colombia.

Aug 09, 2015

From July 18 to August 8 (2015) we photographed birds in the best nature reserves of the Western & Central Andes of Colombia, starting in Cali and finishing in Medellin.

As soon as Chunhsien Huang, Chu Yuan Hsu & Yong Bao Sun landed in Cali´s airport, we visited Juan José Arango´s hummingbird feeders in the outskirts of the city, photographing for more than 3 hours the gorgeous Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Black-throated Mango, White-necked Jacobin & Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. In the garden, our lenses focused on the Spotted & Red-crowned Woodpeckers, Saffron Finch and Thick-billed Euphonia.

We visited for 3 days the forests at Kilometro 18 above Cali, where we enjoyed greatly the feeders at Finca Alejandria. Here, we photographed well the Multicolored Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, Flame-rumped Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Golden-naped, Golden & Saffron-crowned Tanagers, Green Honeycreeper, Masked & Rusty Flowerpiercers, Blue-headed Sapphire, Green & Tawny-bellied Hermits, Brown Violetear, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Bronzy Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, Booted Racket-Tail, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Purple-throated Woodstar, Crowned Woodnymph, Andean Emerald and Blue-headed Sapphire. 

We than moved into the lowlands, photographing water birds in the Sonso & Cameguadua marshes in the Cauca Valley, including very nice birds such as Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Least & Pied-billed Grebes, Neotropical Cormorant, Striated Heron, Great, Snowy & Cattle Egrets, Cocoi Heron, Buff-necked Ibis, Limpkin, Purple & Common Gallinules, Southern Lapwing, Blackish Rail, American Coot, Black-necked Stilt, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, Wattled Jacana, Pied Water-Tyrant and Olive-crowned Yellowthroat.

Our trip continued with visits to the Otun-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary, Los Nevados National Park, Rio Blanco, Ventanas Pass above Jardin, Morro Amarillo, Las Tangaras, La Romera Ecopark and Chestnut-capped Piha reserve.

And in doing so, many more beautiful birds were captured by our lenses, including the Spectacled Parrotlet, Blue-headed, Bronze-winged & Speckle-faced Parrots, Striped & Squirrel Cuckoos, Mottled Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Common Potoo, Golden-headed Quetzal, Masked & Collared Trogons, Highland (Andean) Motmot, Emerald Toucanet, Montane Woodcreeper, Road-side Hawk, Yellow-headed & Crested Caracaras, American Kestrel, Swallow-tailed Kite, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Red-faced, Slaty & Azara´s Spinetails, Black-crowned & Uniform Antshrikes, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Common & Slate-headed Tody-Flycatchers, Vermilion Flycatcher, Ornate Flycatcher, Green-and-black Fruiteater, White-breasted Wood-Wren, White-capped Dipper, Crimson-backed Tanager, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, and the Ruddy-breasted, Slate-colored & Yellow-bellied Seedeaters.

We photographed well 44 species of hummingbirds! Including the Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Green & Sparkling Violetears, Tourmaline Sunangel, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Tyrian & Viridian Metaltails, Greenish Puffleg, Shining Sunbeam, Collared Inca, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Mountain Velvetbreast, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing,  White-tailed Hillstar, Green-crowned Brilliant, White-bellied Woodstar and Western Emerald, among others.

The Tanager family did not came short, capturing pictures of 41 species! This included such great tanagers as the Hooded, Lacrimose, Scarlet-bellied & Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers, Fawn-breasted, Black-capped, Blue-necked, Speckled, Blue-and-black, Beryl-spangled, Bay-headed and Silver-throated Tanagers, among others.

Some of our tour highlights was being able to photograph well the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock at Jardin, the Highland Tinamou walking along a gravel road at Kilometro 18, the Dwarf Cuckoo in Cameguadua marsh, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Mountain Avocetbill, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan & Andean Tit-Spinetail in the buffer zone of Los Nevados National Park, the female Lyre-tailed Nightjar at Las Tangaras reserve, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow & Crimson-mantled Woodpecker at Otun-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary, Jet Antbird at El Vinculo reserve and Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant at Recinto del Pensamiento. We photographed well three species of jays, including the Black-collared, Black-chested and Green Jays.

Our friends from Taiwan and China quickly fell in love with the Antpittas, photographing seven species! It was impossible to resist the temptation of these charming Andean birds, devoting ample time to picture the Chestnut-crowned, Bicolored, Chestnut-naped, Rufous, Tawny, Brown-banded & Slate-crowned Antpittas!

By the end of our trip we had photographed well 23 endemics & near-endemics, including the Cauca Guan, Colombian Chachalaca, Yellow-eared Parrot, Violet-tailed Sylph, Buffy Helmetcrest, Black-thighed Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Brown Inca, Velvet-purple Coronet, Empress Brilliant, Purple-throated Woodstar, Toucan Barbet, Grayish Piculet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Bicolored Antpitta, Brown-banded Antpitta, Sooty-headed Wren, Black-and-gold Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Multicolored Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager and Golden-fronted Redstart.

In our last day at Chestnut-capped Piha reserve, Chu Huan Hsu alone took 10,000 photos of the hummingbirds in the feeders!! Tons of irresistible action from these little birds in flight!!!

Posts from February 2015

Second birding trip for Debby Reynolds & David Copas (UK), and Jane Andrews (USA).

Feb 07, 2015

After birding sections of the Eastern, Western & Central Andes of Colombia, Debby & David (UK) came back for a second 18-day tour (from January 20 to February 6, 2015), this time with friend Jane Andrews (USA).

Landing in Bogota worked well for visiting Laguna de Fuquene & Rogitama nature reserve, after which we moved into the mid-Magdalena Valley, birding en route Tabacal Lagoon & Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco, and lodging at the Blue-billed Curassow reserve. Moving further north, we lodged at the Cerulean Warbler reserve near San Vicente de Chucurí and visited the Recurve-billed Bushbird reserve near Ocaña. Final leg of the tour could not be better, birding the Santa Marta Mountains, Isla de Salamanca & Guajira Peninsula.

A total of 438 species were registered (417 seen, 21 heard only). The “birds of the day” list included magnificent birds such as the endemics Black Inca, Blue-billed Curassow, Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, Black-backed Hummingbird (the “bird of the trip”), Santa Marta Antpitta and Chestnut-winged Chachalaca. Also, the near-endemic Chestnut Piculet and specialties such as the Rosy-thrush Tanager, Crested Bobwhite, Bare-crowned Antbird, Black Antshrike, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Jet Antbird, Chestnut-bellied Thrush, Brown-throated Parakeet and Golden-winged Sparrow.

From left to right: Daniel Uribe, José Luis Pushaina (our local guide for La Guajira), David Copas, Debby Reynolds & Jane Andrews at Los Flamencos Wildlife Sanctuary in La Guajira peninsula.

Posts from December 2014

Short but productive bird photo trip for family group from Canada and Colombia (December 16-20, 2014).

Dec 22, 2014
















The group at El Recinto del Pensamiento on the final day of a 5-day birdwatching and photography trip to Cameguadua marsh, Los Nevados National Park, Rio Blanco and El Recinto del Pensamiento ecopark in the Central Andes of Colombia.

The first day was used for road traveling from Medellin to Manizales in the morning, birding Cameguadua marsh in the afternoon. The second day was a highly enjoyable visit to Los Nevados National Park, with plenty of birds photographed and a short relaxing bath at the thermal springs. The third & fourth days we birded Río Blanco, and on the fifth day visited the hummingbird feeders & butterfly house at El Recinto del Pensamiento, with return trip to Medellin in the afternoon.

We registered 195 bird species (183 seen, 12 heard-only) and while doing so, had a great time photographing birds such as the endemic Grayish Piculet, Blackish Rail, Flame-rumped Tanager, Pied Water-Tyrant and many more at Cameguadua marsh.

In Río Blanco the group photographed the Sickle-winged Guan & Black-billed Mountain-Toucan feeding on small berries, the antpittas (Chestnut-capped, Brown-banded, Bicolored & Slate-crowned Antpitta) feeding on earthworms, great hummingbirds & flowerpiercers in the lodge gardens, and a large list of mixed-flock members. Most memorable was a close encounter with an Andean Coati in broad daylight, and close night-views of Crab-eating Fox. Luckily, we ran into a family group of White-capped Tanagers and a flock of Golden-plumed Parakeets that allowed dozens of close captions. We indulged photographing very colorful birds such as the Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Pearled Treerunner, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Highland Motmot and both male & female Masked Trogon.

At Los Nevados, we had the good fortune of locating and photographing at close range the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest, as well as a sizeable list of high-altitude hummingbirds including the scarce Black-thighed Hummingbird, Shining Sunbean, Great Sapphirewing, Viridian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Mountain Velvetbreast and Buff-tailed Coronet. We photographed 26 species of hummingbirds in just 5 days, including nice specialties such as Green-fronted Lancebill, Wedge-billed & Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Tourmaline Sunangel, Bronzy & Collared Inca, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Andean Emerald and White-bellied Woodstar.

Left: White-capped Tanager at Río Blanco.  Right: Buffy Helmetcrest at Los Nevados. Photos by participant Denis Rivard.

Posts from November 2014

Andean Endemics tour for David & Nancy Massie from the UK (October 23-November 6, 2014).

Nov 07, 2014

















From left to right: Daniel Uribe, Nancy & David Massie, at Los Nevados National Park in the Central Andes of Colombia. November 01, 2014.

This was a highly enjoyable and productive birding tour for David & Nancy Massie from the UK, who had birded Ecuador in previous trips but wanted to see Colombian Andean endemics and while doing so, filling-in the gaps for shared near-endemics with Ecuador & Venezuela. David & Nancy landed in Bogotá, and the following days we birded Chingaza National Park, the Siecha wetlands and the Páramo de Guasca. Then, we traversed the mid-Magdalena Valley, birding first the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco de Sales & Tabacal Lagoon at La Vega soon after we left Bogotá. We visited the Bellavista forest at Victoria, the wetlands near “El Dosymedio” (Puerto Boyacá) and the Río Claro Canyon (lodging at El Refugio) in the mid-Magdalena Valley. After birding La Romera ecopark in Sabaneta, we went onward into the Western Andes visiting the semi-dry forests near Bolombolo along the way to Jardín, the Ventanas´s Pass above Jardín, Morro Amarillo and the Cock-of-the-Rock lek outside town. The following days rendered a productive sequence of birding days, visiting the best localities in the Central Andes: Río Blanco, Los Nevados National Park, the road to Neira, Cameguadua marsh and Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary. Outward flight was from Pereira to Bogotá, with connections back home.

In synthesis, we registered 439 species, with 406 species seen and 33 species heard only. David had 70 lifers during the trip, and Nancy was extremely lucky and hard-working in photographing a plethoric list of endemics & near-endemics. We drove 1,975 kilometers of Andean roads!

















Endemic Magdalena Antibird (Sipia palliata), photographed by Nancy Massie at Rio Claro Canyon in mid-Magdalena Valley.

Some highlights of the tour were: Northern Screamer, Cauca Guan (E&EN), Colombian Chachalaca (E&VU), Bogota Rail (E&EN), Spot-flanked Gallinule, Noble Snipe, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Rufous-fronted Parakeet (E&VU), Rusty-faced Parrot, Yellow-eared Parrot (E&EN), Rufous-banded Owl, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated (Longuemare´s) Sunangel, Purple-backed & Rainbow-bearded Thornbills, Bronze-tailed Thornbill (NE), Buffy Helmetcrest (E), Black-thighed Puffleg (NE&NT), Coppery-bellied Puffleg (NE&NT), Golden-breasted Puffleg (NE), Blue-throated Starfrontlet (NE),  Indigo-capped Hummingbird (E), White-mantled Barbet (E&VU), Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Grayish Piculet (E), Beautiful Woodpecker (E), Sylvery-throated Spinetail (E), Bar-crested Antshrike (NE), Parker´s Antbird (E), Magdalena Antbird (E), Bicolored Antpitta (NE&VU), Brown-banded Antpitta (E), Stiles´s Tapaculo (E), Pale-bellied Tapaculo (NE), Rufous-breasted Flycatcher (NE),  Apical Flycatcher (E), Yellow-headed Manakin (NE&NT), Antioquia Wren (E), Purplish-mantled Tanager (NE&NT), Scrub Tanager (NE), Rufous-browed Conebill (NE), Masked Saltator (NT), Yellow-headed Brush-Finch (E&EN), Cerulean Warbler (VU), Golden-fronted Whitestar (NE), Red-bellied Grackle (E&EN) and Velvet-fronted Euphonia (E).

Other significant birds were: Fulvous-whistling Duck, Andean Teal, Torrent & Andean (Ruddy) Ducks, Sickle-winged & Andean Guans,  Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Hook-billed Kite, Black-Hawk Eagle, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Barred Parakeet, Speckle-faced, Bronze-winged & Scaly-naped Parrots, White-lined Quail-Dove, Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Band-winged Nightjar, Pale-bellied & Tawny-bellied Hermits, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Tourmaline Sunangel, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Gorgeted Woodstar, Barred & Moustached Puffbirds,  Channel-billed (Citron-throated) Toucan, Yellow-vented, Crimson-mantled, Cinnamon & Powerful Woodpeckers, White-chinned Thistletail, Striped, Streak-capped & Flammulated Treehunters, Tyrannine Woodcreeper,  Checkered-throated & Pacific Antwrens, Chestnut-naped & Slate-crowned Antpittas, Paramo Tapaculo, Black-capped, Plumbeous-crowned, White-tailed & White-banded Tyrannulets, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Olivaceous Flatbill, Yellow-bellied, Slaty-backed, Rufous-breasted & Brown-backed Chat-Tyrants, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Wing-barred Piprites, Black-billed Peppershrike, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Black-collared & Black-chested Jays, Black-bellied & Chestnut-breasted Wrens, White-capped Dipper, Flame-rumped, Metallic-green & Red-hooded Tanagers, Plushcap, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Citrine Warbler and Fulvous-vented Euphonia.

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