Birding with Jonathan Levy and Mary Jane Thomas from Oregon, USA (January 31 – February 8, 2011).

10 - 02 - 2011

From January 31st to February 8th 2011, we birded the Coffee Region with Jon Levy and Janie, from Oregon (USA). Jon & Janie wanted to see as much birds as possible in a compact excursion with long to medium hikes enjoying birds and nature, and little time wasted driving the car. The excursion we envisioned visited the best forests in well protected watersheds of three provinces (Quindío, Risaralda and Caldas), covering an altitudinal gradient from 1,800 – 4,000 meters above sea level.

The first day we visited Bremen Nature Reserve and the premontane forest of Horizontes Nature Reserve. The second day we birded the Quindío Botanical Garden and Hacienda Bambusa in the Maravelez Valley of La Tebaida. The third day we had an early start and headed for Acaime & La Montaña Nature Reserves in the Quindío river canyon. Fourth day we hiked Camino de los Indios in the morning and visited Salento and El Cortijo Farm in the afternoon, enjoying for lunch a delicious trout with fried plantain. Days 5 through 8 saw us birding Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary in Pereira and Los Alcázares Ecopark and Río Blanco in Manizales, visiting on our final day the highlands of Los Nevados National Park and the hummingbirds at Recinto del Pensamiento.

Among the 72 species seen on our first day in Bremen, we had a memorable and close encounter with the Streak-capped Treehunter (Thripadectes virgaticeps) and very good views of several females of the Booted Racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii), the Rufous-breasted Flycatcher (Leptopogon rufipectus), Flame-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus flammigerus flammigerus), Blue-winged Mountain Tanager (Anisognathus somptuosus), Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas), Collared Trogon (Trogon collaris) and Moustached Puffbird (Malacoptila mystacalis). We heard clearly but did not see the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (Pyroderus scutatus), the White-crowned Tapaculo (Scytalopus atratus) and the Plumbeous Pigeon (Patagioenas plumbea), with their calls coming from the forest interiors. In Horizontes we saw closely the male and female of the Bar-crested Antshrike (Thamnophilus multistriatus) and the male of Great Antshrike (Taraba major) responded nicely to play-back. We also enjoyed here the Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii), Bronze-winged Parrots (Pionus chalcopterus) under great light and the Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopigus).

At the Botanical Garden we saw closely Green Hermits (Phaethornis guy) at a singing lek and the Ochre-bellied Flycatcher (Mionectes oleagineus) at the Bambu stands. At Hacienda Bambusa we had spectacular views of the Buff-necked Ibis (Theristicus caudatus) as it cruised the sky heading towards their roosting place, and we enjoyed the fast runs of the Crested Bobwhite (Colinus cristatus) and the nervous flattering of the Band-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus longirostris). On grazing pastures we had a very nice view of a pair of Wedge-tailed Grass-Finches (Emberizoides herbicola), and enjoyed four species of hummingbirds at the hostal feeders.

At Acaime we had glorious views of the Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan (Andigena hypoglauca), Crimson-mantled Woodpecker (Colaptes rivolii), Black-collared Jay (Cyanolyca armillata), Hooded Mountain-Tanagers (Buthraupis montana), Mountain Caciques (Cacicus chrysonotus) at their hanging nests, Golden-plumed Parakeets (Leptosittaca branickii) perched at Wax Palms and the beautiful Black-throated Tody-Tyrant (Hemitriccus granadensis) in the undergrowth. The Quindío river gave us splendid views of the White-capped Dipper (Cinclus leucocephalus) and no less than four pairs of Torrent Ducks (Merganetta armata), one pair performing a courtship display and another pair with a juvenile. At Otún-Quimbaya we saw the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (Pyroderus scutatus) and Cauca Guan (Penelope perspicax), the Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata) and had good views of a second pair of Moustached Puffbirds (Malacoptila mystacalis). We had glimpses of the Chestnut Wood-quail (Odontophorus hyperythrus) and stood just 3 meters away from a cryptic Moustached Antpitta (Grallaria alleni), missing its views. On another occasion, Janie managed to see the Chestnut-breasted Wren (Cyphorhinus thoracicus), but Daniel missed it! And in flowers near de Visitor’s Center, we had wonderful looks at the Wedge-billed Hummingbird (Schistes geoffroyi).

As usual, Rio Blanco gave us plenty of birds. Alveiro Uribe joined us as our local guide for 2 days and with his help we managed to see well the Ocellated Tapaculo (Acropternis orthonyx), Masked Saltator (Saltator cinctus), Rusty-faced Parrot (Hapalopsittaca amazonina velezi), Rufous Spinetail (Synallaxis unirufa) and a family group of Rufous Wrens (Cynicerthia unirufa). Our final excursion to Los Nevados was full of magnificent birds, among them, the Golden-crowned Tanager (Iridosornis rufivertex), Black-backed Bush-Tanager (Urothraupis stolzmanni), Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus igniventris), Shining Sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis), Rainbow-bearded Thornbill (Chalchostigma herrani), Andean Tit-Spinetail (Leptasthenura andicola) and Many-striped Canastero (Asthenes flammulata). This time of the year there were very few flowers at the Bearded Helmetcrest’s favorite bush (in Spanish the plant is called Romero de Páramo – Diplostephium schultzii), thus, we only had a lightning view of a male in Brisas sector. But while we had lunch at Marleny’s restaurant, we were gladly surprised by a female Bearded Helmetcrest visiting multiple times the yellow flowers of Senecio plants right outside our window, getting good photos of it!  Finally, we closed this very successful excursion by stopping at the Recinto del Pensamiento, where we made our final checklist of birds for the day, while we enjoyed 12 species of hummingbirds!