Birding the Eastern, Central & Western Andes with Andy & Gill Swash, Debby Reynolds & David Copas from UK (January 15 – February 5, 2014).

06 - 02 - 2014

This was a 22-day birding trip (2,666 road kilometers) through the best localities in the Eastern, Central & Western Andes of Colombia. Starting in Bogotá, we birded Laguna de Pedro Palo, Chicaque, Chingaza National Park, Siecha gravel pits, Paramo de Guasca (La Guajira & Bioandina nature reserve) and La Florida marsh in the first 4 days. We then moved into the Magdalena Valley, visiting the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco de Sales, Laguna de Tabacal, Bellavista forest in Victoria and the Rio Claro canyon (El Refugio). From here we drove into the Northern Central Andes, visiting ProAves´s Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve for 3 days, before travelling south to Medellín and visiting La Romera ecopark and then on to ProAves´s Las Tangaras lodge in the Western Andes for 2 days. The next part of our itinerary was to visit Jardín, birding Ventanas´s Pass above town and Morro Amarillo, before moving into the Central Andes. From Manizales we birded Los Nevados National Park, Rio Blanco, Recinto del Pensamiento and Cameguadua marsh. Our tour finished with an overnight stay at Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary and a 3-night visit to Cerro Montezuma in the Western Andes (Leopoldina´s lodge). A domestic flight from Pereira to Bogotá preceded the international flight back home to the UK.

In total, we recorded 580 species, with 35 heard only.  Andy & Gill had 72 lifers, Debby & David had 146 lifers. After returning back to UK, Andy wrote: “The actual number of species photographed was 369, with just over 300 of publishable quality – an amazing figure, and significantly more than any other tour we’ve done!”.

We enjoyed many great birds, including the following:

ENDEMICS (29): Cauca Guan, Colombian Chachalaca, Chestnut Wood-Quail, Bogota Rail, Yellow-eared Parrot, Brown-banded Parakeet, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Buffy (Bearded) Helmetcrest, White-mantled Barbet, Greyish Piculet, Beautiful Woodpecker, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Parker´s Antbird, Magdalena Antbird, Brown-banded Antpitta, Stiles´s Tapaculo, Alto de Pisones Tapaculo, Chestnut-capped Piha, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Munchique Wood-Wren, Black-and-gold Tanager, Gold-ringed Tanager, Multicoloured Tanager, Turquoise Dacnis, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Sooty Ant-Tanager, Crested Ant-Tanager, Red-bellied Grackle and Antioquia Wren.

NEAR-ENDEMICS (40): Northern Screamer, Short-tailed Emerald, Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet, Brown Inca, Golden-bellied Starfrontlet, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-throated Woodstar, Toucan Barbet, Uniform Treehunter, Bar-crested Antshrike, Bicoloured Antpitta, Nariño Tapaculo, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Club-winged Manakin, Yellow-headed Manakin, Choco Tyrannulet, Sooty-headed Wren, Beautiful Jay, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Golden-fronted Redstart, Rufous-browed Conebill, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Tanager Finch, Black-backed Bush-Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Dusky Bush-Tanager, Black-headed Brush-Finch, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Choco Vireo, Flame-rumped Tanager and Rufous-throated Tanager.

OTHER SPECIALITIES (more than 70 species), including the following: Andean Teal, Noble Snipe, Spectacled Parrotlet, White-throated Screech-Owl, Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Tawny-bellied Hermit, Western Emerald, White-tailed Hillstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Gorgeted Woodstar, Golden-headed & Crested Quetzals, Barred Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Yellow-vented, Cinnamon & Powerful Woodpeckers, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Streak-capped & Flammulated Treehunters, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Brown-billed Scythebill, Rufous-rumped & Yellow-breasted Antwrens, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Pale-bellied (Matorral) Tapaculo, Olivaceous Piha, Striped Manakin, Subtropical Doradito, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, Southern Bentbill, White-headed & Chestnut-breasted Wrens, Black-billed Peppershrike, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Rufous-crested Tanager, Masked Saltator and many others.

Celebrating a succesfull birding trip. From left to right: Daniel, Debby, David, Gill & Andy, at the waterfall bench of ProAves´s Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve in the Central Andes.

David & Debby take a brake at a point view in Chingaza National Park, Eastern Andes above Bogota.

At Cerro Montezuma in the Western Andes: Leopoldina, David, Debby, Andy & Gill.