Birding for much desired targets with Keith Betton, Andrew Herbert (UK) and Rainer Kopa (Germany) (April 17-May 7, 2016).

08 - 05 - 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!