Birding Mitú, Inírida & the Perijá Mountains for key species with Hans Jornvall from Sweden (January 5 – 23, 2019).

25 - 01 - 2019

From January 5 – 23 (2019) we birded the Colombian Amazon in Mitú and Inírida, plus the Perijá Mountains in the northernmost tip of the Andes. With a personal list over 9,500 species seen worldwide, Hans Jornvall had just a few birds to add to his lifelist.

We birded Mitú on January 6 – 13, visiting the localities of Línea Bocatoma (trail begins at the edge of town, in the neighborhood called “12 de Octubre”), Ceimá Cachivera, Cruce Bocatoma, Cerrito Verde, Pueblo Nuevo, road to Maka-Yuká, road to Santa Cruz & Microcentral Hidroeléctrica (MCH). We had the excellent assistance of local guide Miguel Portura and Wilson as our driver.

January 14 – 19 saw us birding Inírida, visiting the localities of Sabanitas, El Paujil, Caño Vitina, La Rompida in the Guaviare River, Caño Matraca, Los Cocos (Coco Nuevo) and El Guamal. We had the excellent assistance of Camilo Orjuela as local birding guide, handling all logistics smoothly.

The third and final leg was at Serranía de Perijá in the most northern tip of the Andes, from January 20 – 23 (2019). On the first night, we lodged near Manaure, at a small rural “bed & breakfast” hotel called Villa Adelayda. The second night we lodged at ProAves´s reserve (known as “Chamicero del Perijá”, in Spanish), and for the third and final night we used a city hotel in Valledupar (Hotel Tativán).

Many birds went through our bins & scope, but most importantly were the new birds for Hans:

At Mitú we registered the White-throated Tinamou (Tinamus guttatus), Gray-legged Tinamou (Crypturellus duidae), Barred Tinamou (Crypturellus casiquiare), Sapphire Quail-Dove (Geotrygon saphirina), Orinoco Piculet (Picumnus pumilus), Sapphire-rumped Parrotlet (Touit purpuratus), Black Bushbird (Neoctantes niger), Gray-bellied Antbird (Ammonastes pelzelni), Chestnut-crested Antbird (Rhegmatorhina cristata), White-eyed Tody-Tyrant (Hemitriccus zosterops), Azure-naped Jay (Cyanocorax helprini) and White-bellied Dacnis (Dacnis albiventris).

At Inírida we saw the Amazonian Black-Tyrant (Knipolegus poecilocercus), Yapacana Antbird (Aprositornis disjuncta), Orinoco Softtail (Tripophaga cherrei), Pale-bellied Mourner (Rhytipterna immunda) and the new “Inírida Antshrike” (which is probably an undescribed subspecies of Chestnut-backed Antshrike – Thamnophilus palliatus).

On the third leg of the trip, we managed to see all the Perijá endemics and specialties that Hans needed for his personal list, including the Perija Metaltail (Metallura iracunda), Perija Thistletail (Asthenes perijana), Klage´s Antbird (Drymophila klagesi), Perija Tapaculo (Scytalopus perijanus), Perija Brush-Finch (Arremon perijanus), Rufous-shafted Woodstar (Chaetocercus jourdanii) and the local subspecies of Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch (Atlapetes latinuchus nigrifrons).

As expected, we missed some of our target birds. In spite of much looking and searching, we could not find the Red-billed Ground-Cuckoo (Neomorphus pucheranii), Streak-throated Hermit (Phaethornis rupurumii), Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet (Touit huetii), Cinnamon-crested Spadebill (Platyrhinchus saturatus), Cinnamon Manakin-Tyrant (Neopipo cinnamomea) and the Reddish-winged Bare-Eye (Phlegopsis erythroptera). This is birding in the tropics!


Merry Christmas to all birders around the world!

22 - 12 - 2018


Second birding trip to Colombia for Ernest Bradley & Dale Brinker (November 19 – December 03, 2018).

04 - 12 - 2018

Ernie & Dale had been lingering for a second birding trip to Colombia and this time they opted for the Eastern Andes, including the best birding sites near Bogota.  Birding Tours Colombia had been running Eastern Andes tours for years, and it was very easy to agree on a magnificent 15-day itinerary.

Near Bogota, we visited Laguna de Pedro Palo, Chicaque Nature Reserve, Chingaza National Park, the Hummingbird Observatory at La Calera and the Siecha gravel pits. Moving north, we birded Paramo Grande above Guasca and the colorful Vereda Concepción with La Guajira & Bioandina Nature Reserves. We kept traveling north, visiting Laguna de Fúquene, the gorgeous colonial town of Villa de Leyva and Rogitama Nature Reserve before reaching the dry Chicamocha Canyon in Soata. Naturally, we birded the scenic Paramo de La Rusia and the beautiful Oak forests along the road to Onzaga.

On our return to Bogota, we decided to visit the reservoir of La Copa near the town of Toca for one morning. We then dropped to the Magdalena Valley and enjoyed the hummingbirds at the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco, and birded thoroughly the rich Tabacal Lagoon near La Vega and Bellavista Forest above Victoria before returning to Bogota.

As a result, Ernie obtained 67 lifers, and Dale had a slightly bigger figure. We saw well the endemics Bogota Rail, Brown-breasted (Flame-winged) Parakeet, White-mantled Barbet, Black Inca, Chestnut-bellied & Indigo-capped Hummingbirds, Beautiful Woodpecker, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Apical Flycatcher, Niceforo´s Wren, Sooty Ant-Tanager, Mountain Grackle and Velvet-fronted Euphonia. Also, the near-endemics Bronze-tailed Thornbill, Coppery-bellied Puffleg, Golden-bellied & Blue-fronted Starfrontlets, Red-billed & Short-tailed Emeralds, Bar-crested Antshrike, Pale-bellied (Matorral) Tapaculo, Scrub Tanager, Rufous-browed Conebill, Black-headed & Moustached Brush-Finches, and the Golden-fronted Whitestart.

We enjoyed hundreds of glamorous birds, such as the Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Black-hawk Eagle, White-rumped Hawk, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Noble Snipe, Spectacled Parrotlet and the Andean Pygmy-Owl. Among the hummingbirds, we had spectacular views of the Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Black-tailed & Green-tailed Trainbearers, Purple-backed Thornbill, Glowing Puffleg, Gorgeted Woodstar and Lazuline Sabrewing. Other great birds included the Golden-headed Quetzal, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Red-rumped & Crimson-mantled Woodpeckers, Black-crowned Antshrike, Dusky, Jet & White-bellied Antbirds, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Ash-browed & Stripe-breasted Spinetails, Black-billed Peppershrike, White-bibbed Manakin, Black-faced & Metalic-green Tanagers, Band-tailed & Paramo Seedeaters, Black-backed Grosbeak and Andean Siskin, among many others.

From left to right: Dale Brinker, Ernest Bradley, Daniel Uribe & Roberto Chavarro. A retired MD (Anesthesiologist), Roberto is one of the most prominent conservation pioneers in Colombia. His commitment to conservation and his prodigious work restoring the barren land that he bought some 35 years ago is truly amazing. Today, the gardens & forests of Rogitama are home to hundreds of bird species, including the endemics Black Inca, Golden-bellied Starfrontlet, Silvery-throated Spinetail and Pale-bellied Tapaculo, and near-endemics Short-tailed Emerald, Moustached Brush-Finch, Scrub Tanager and Golden-fronted Whitestart.


Birding Colombia: an explosive extension into the Santa Marta Mountains, Guajira pensinsula & Perijá Mountains (October 18 – 27, 2018).

28 - 10 - 2018

Tony, Tom, Dale & Daniel flew to Santa Marta after birding the Eastern Andes near Bogota, aiming for high altitude endemics in the San Lorenzo ridge, scrubland specialties in the Guajira peninsula and the endemics of the most northern tip of the Andes: the Perijá Mountains.

Quickly after landing in Santa Marta at 4:15pm, we visited the close locality of El Vale, finding a group of seven Chestnut-winged Chachalacas, endemic to northern Colombia. In addition, Crested Bobwhites and Groove-billed Anis were actively moving from one side of the road to the other.

As always, Hotel Minca provided a pleasant stay, and the feeders at the balcony had White-necked Jacobin, Long-billed Hermit, Lesser Violetear, White-vented Plumeleteer, Steely-vented & Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. Black-chested Jays, Bicolored Wrens & Streak-headed Woodcreepers were active and vocal at the parking lot.

The following day we drove up the mountain, from Minca to Proaves´s El Dorado Lodge. With frequent stops along the steep climb, we managed to find several Santa Marta Mountain endemics, including the Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner, Santa Marta Antbird and Santa Marta Tapaculo. The stop of the Baticola enabled us to find the beautiful Santa Marta Blossomcrown, the Bang´s subspecies of Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, and a gorgeous Keel-billed Toucan as a bonus.

Other birds seen this morning included a pair of Crested Guans that sat calmly on dense foliage, giving great scope views. A singing pair of Rufous-breasted Wrens gave a nice show, followed by a duet of Rufous-and-white Wrens performing just a couple of meters from us. Birds seen this morning included the near-endemic Red-billed Emerald, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Whooping Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-bearded Manakin, Golden-crowned & Boat-billed Flycatchers, Ochre-bellied & Sepia-capped Flycatchers, Masked Tityra, Red-eyed Vireo, Pale-breasted Thrush, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, White-lined & Crimson-backed Tanagers, Buff-throated Saltator, Rufous-capped Warbler, Slate-throated Whitestart and Crested Oropendola. Red-billed Parrots flew across the mountains a couple of times. Some North American migrants showed up well, including Black-and-white Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Swainson´s Thrush and Eastern Wood-Pewee.

After a late lunch at the lodge, we enjoyed the feeders and gardens, visited by quality birds: the endemic Sierra Nevada (Colombian) Brush-Finch, endemic Santa Marta Brush-Finch, endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet and near-endemic Band-tailed Guan. Other birds seen included White-tipped Dove, Sparkling Violetear, male & female Lazuline Sabrewing, Crowned Woodnymph (numerous), Black-capped & Bay-headed Tanager, White-sided Flowerpiercer and Blue-naped Chlorophonia.

We had good scope views of a male White-tipped Quetzal (near-endemic) and Crimson-crested Woodpecker from the deck. In addition, it was not difficult to find the endemic White-lored Warbler on a short hike near the lodge.

At night, we had an exciting encounter with the endemic Santa Marta Screech-Owl.

The following day we had an early start (4:00am departure from lodge), bumping along the road all the way up to the San Lorenzo ridge. Birding was initially slow, probably due to the very sunny sky. However, we gradually saw most of our targets: Santa Marta Antpitta, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, White-tipped Quetzal, Streak-capped Spinetail, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta (Hermit) Wood-Wren, Black-cheeked (Santa Marta) Mountain-Tanager, Santa Marta Brush-Finch, Santa Marta Warbler and Yellow-crowned Whitestart. We missed the Black-backed Thornbill and Santa Marta Parakeets. We heard the Rufous Antpitta (Grallaria rufula spatiator), Flammulated Treehunter and Pale-eyed Thrush.

All happy to be at the top of San Lorenzo ridge with a good day!

This morning we also saw one juvenile of Solitary Eagle soaring at close distance, and a Peregrine Falcon. Two groups of Scarlet-fronted Parakeets adding up to 25 individuals were very active and noisy, and Scaly-naped Parrots cruised several times above our heads. Other birds seen included Plushcap (one adult w/ one juvenile), Tyrian Metaltail, White-throated Tyrannulet and Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush.

Back at the lodge at 3:30pm, we had time to enjoy for a second time the species attending the feeders in the bloomed garden. We had great looks at 15 Band-tailed Guans, Montane Foliage-Gleaner, White-tipped Dove, Lesser & Sparkling Violetear, Lazuline Sabrewing, Crowned Woodnymph, Black-capped Tanager and Blue-naped Chlorophonia.

Before dark, we had time to take a short hike near the lodge, and luckily, we met with a group of four Black-fronted Wood-Quails!

The following day we birded our way back down to the lowlands. However, it was not easy to start our descent, simply because there were four female White-tipped Quetzals courted by two splendid males! Just in the parking lot!

Coming down the mountain we managed to find the endemic Santa Marta Woodstar (one male, perched on snag), near-endemic Golden-winged Sparrow, Golden-breasted Fruiteater and 6 Military Macaws. Also, we had good second views of 15 Red-billed Parrots, 1 Santa Marta Blossomcrown, 1 Red-billed Emerald and 2 Crimson-crested Woodpeckers. Other birds included Masked Trogon, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Black-throated Pygmy-Tyrant, Golden-fronted Greenlet and Black-hooded Thrush.

We had a two-night stay at Camarones, where we met our good friend José Luis Pushaina, arguably the best local guide in the region. Since sunlight becomes very strong after 10:00am, we had an early start again, and within 4 hours we saw a fair number of target birds, including the near-endemics Tocuyo Sparrow, 4 Chestnut Piculets, 3 Vermilion Cardinals (two males, one female), 2 White-whiskered Spinetails, 1 Slender-billed Tyrannulet (Inezia). Also, 2 Buffy Hummingbirds, 2 Pale-tipped Inezias, 2 Black-backed Antshrikes, 1 Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, 1 Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, 1 Lesson´s Seedeater, 2 Pileated Finches, 1 Northern Scrub Flycatcher, 15 Bare-eyed Pigeons, 2 Green-rumped Parrotlets, 5 Ruby-topaz Hummingbirds (3 males, 2 females), 6 Red-billed Emeralds, 2 Trinidad Euphonias.

Other highlights included species such as 1 Black-faced Grassquit, 2 White-fringed Antbirds, 2 Black-crested Antshrikes, 20 Brown-throated Parakeets, 3 Rufous-tailed Jacamars, 2 Common Ground-Doves, 4 Scaled Doves, 5 White-tipped Doves, 2 Red-crowned Woodpeckers, 1 Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, 1 Brown-crested Flycatcher, 1 Great-crested Flycatcher, 2 Gray Kingbirds, 8 Tropical Gnatcatchers, 2 Tropical Mockingbirds, 3 Prothonotary Warblers, 2 Blackpoll Warblers and 2 Yellow Orioles.

Perched on low bushes we saw an astounding Hook-billed Kite and a beautiful Crane Hawk. Flying over were 5 Mississippi Kites. We saw 1 juvenile Black-collared Hawk, and several Crested & Yellow-headed Caracaras. We heard the Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Crested Bobwhite, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Pale-legged (Caribbean) Hornero and Venezuelan Flycatcher.

At Boca de Camarones we met with a group of more than 200 American Flamingos, and a large number of waders and aquatics, including 8 Neotropical Cormorants, 6 Brown Pelicans, 1 Black-crowned Night-Heron, 1 Striated Heron, 6 Great Egrets, 2 Reddish Egrets, 10 Snowy Egrets, 1 Little Blue Heron, 4 White Ibises, 3 Scarlet Ibises, 2 Bare-faced Ibises, 15 Magnificent Frigatebirds, 1 Black-bellied (Gray) Plover, 1 Collared Plovers, 2 American Oystercatchers, 8 Black-necked Stilts, 1 Whimbrel, 10 Sanderlings, 3 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 15 Western Sandpipers, 3 Least Sandpipers, 1 White-rumped Sandpiper, 4 Willets, 15 Laughing Gulls, 4 Least Terns, 1 Gull-billed Terns, 30 Cabot´s (Sandwich) Tern and 20 Royal Terns.

In the morning of October 23 we birded the Cari-Cari road, seeing well the following: 4 Orinocan Saltators, 2 Vermilion Cardinals, 2 Glaucous Tanagers, 2 Russet-throated Puffbirds, 2 Buff-breasted Wrens, 1 Scrub Greenlet, 3 Trinidad Euphonias, 8 Crested Bobwhites, 2 Hook-billed Kites, 1 Common Black-Hawk, 1 Harris´s Hawk, 8 Bare-eyed Pigeons, 30 Brown-throated Parakeets, 2 Green-rumped Parrotlets, 2 Striped Cuckoos, 2 Buffy Hummingbirds, 3 Black-crested Antshrikes, 2 White-fringed Antwrens, 4 Straight-billed Woodcreepers, 2 White-whiskered Spinetails, 2 Southern-beardless Tyrannulets, 1 Northern Scrub-Flycatcher and 1 Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, among others.

The afternoon was spent entirely in the car on the way to Valledupar, lodging at a city hotel. The following day we drove shortly to Los Besotes private nature reserve, where we saw our main target there, the Red-legged Tinamou. Plus second views of the White-fringed Antbird, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher and Great-crested Flycatcher.

Near midday, we started our ascent to the Perijá Mountains, reaching ProAves´s Lodge at 5:00pm. We did some brief stops along the road, getting the endemic Perijá Tapaculo and near-endemic Gray-throated Warbler. The feeders were busy with Lesser & Sparkling Violetear, Speckled Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Sunangel and Tyrian Metaltail.  And Scaly-naped Parrots (20) were cruising over.

The following day challenges were waiting for us up at Paramo de Sabana Rubia. Initially, we couldn´t locate the Perijá Thisthletail anywhere along the ridge, in spite of much looking and searching. But our efforts were finally compensated with extraordinary looks of one bird.

Excitement came with the extraordinary views of the endemic Perijá Thistletail.

Soon afterwards, we saw our first Perijá Metaltail of the trip. Here, we also saw the Perija (Rufous) Antpitta, a splendid Andean Condor soaring high. Other birds included 1 Merlin, 4 White-throated Tyrannulets, 2 Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrants, 2 Red-crested Cotingas, 4 Lacrimose Mountain-Tanagers, 2 Blue-capped Tanagers, 2 Blue-backed Conebills, 1 Bluish Flowerpiercer.

At least three Highland Tinamous were vocalizing early morning, and a Paltry (Spectacled) Tyrannulet was moving with a mix flock.

Before dark, we saw below the lodge a pair of Golden-headed Quetzals, 1 Mountain Velvetbreast and 1 Band-winged Nightjar.

On the final day of tour, birding occurred down the road, reaching the airport in Valledupar for our flight back to Bogota.  We had a close encounter with a pair of the endemic Perijá (Phelp´s) Brush-Finch on a dense bamboo stand, and walking closely was a group of three Black-fronted Wood-Quails. Other birds seen included 10 Perija (Yellow-breasted) Brush-Finches, 4 Slaty Brush-Finches, 4 Common Chlorospinguses, 2 Golden-breasted Fruiteaters, 1 Chestnut-bellied Thrush, 2 Fulvous-headed Tanagers, 2 Lacrimose Mountain-Tanagers, 1 Blue-capped Tanager, 1 Black-headed Tanager, 2 Black-capped Tanagers, 2 Beryl-spangled & 3 Bay-headed Tanagers, 1 Black-hooded Thrush, 1 Oleaginous Hemispingus, 1 Merlin, 3 Southern Emerald Toucanets, 2 Smoky-brown Woodpeckers, 6 Perija Tapaculos, 2 Montane Woodcreepers, 2 Rufous Spinetails, 2 Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatchers, 1 Smoke-colored Pewee, 2 Green Jays, 4 Black-chested Jays, 1 Whiskered Wren, 1 Pale-eyed Thrush, 2 Black-crested Warblers, 3 Three-striped Warblers, 4 Black-and-white Seedeaters, 2 Dull-colored Grassquits, 2 Slate-throated Whitestarts, 2 Blue-naped Chlorophonias.

The group at Los Besotes reserve, after seing the Red-legged Tinamou. From left to right: Daniel, Tony, Dale, Tom and José Luis Ropero (local guide). Guess who bought the colorful Guajira bag the day before?


The Eastern Andes near Bogota: private birding tour for Tony Menart, Thomas Heatley & Dale Manor (October 9 – 18, 2018).

20 - 10 - 2018

From October 9 – 18 (2018) we visited the very best birding sites near Bogota, with a short detour on the eastern slope of the Eastern Andes down to Villavicencio. This was the second Colombia trip organized by Birding Tours Colombia for three great birders with life lists over 6500 species each.  Thus, we focused on target birds only, and we did very well!

Sites visited included Laguna de Pedro Palo, Chicaque Park, Bosque Bavaria (also known as Orange-breasted Falcon Reserve), Lagos de Menegua (a new site for our company, which proved to be a wonderful place to bird for some of the Eastern Llanos specialties), Monterredondo and Laguna de Chisacá at Paramo de Sumapaz. East of Bogota we birded Chingaza National Park, the Observatorio de Colibríes at La Calera (also known as The Hummingbird Observatory), Páramo Grande (which we sometimes refer as Páramo de Guasca), Vereda Concepción w/ Bioandina & La Guajira private nature reserves and the Guasca & Siecha gravel pits. Moving west from Bogota, we birded the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco and Laguna de Tabacal at La Vega.

Nice birds seen at Laguna de Pedro Palo: the endemic & vulnerable Black Inca, Spectacled Parrotlet, Gray-rumped & White-tipped Swifts, near-endemic Gorgeted Woodstar, Crowned Woodnymph, Booted Racket-Tail, Andean Emerald, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Olivaceus Piculet, Streaked Xenops, Ash-browed Spinetail, Brown-capped Vireo, Black-capped Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager and Yellow-backed Oriole, among others.

At Chicaque Park we were delighted with the presence of the gorgeous near-endemic Golden-bellied Starfrontlet (one male, two females), Tourmaline Sunangel, Collared Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, Lesser & Sparkling Violetear, and Whiskered Wren on dense bamboo stands.

Bosque Bavaria has always been a great forest to bird, and we managed to find there many good birds, including: Gray-chinned Hermit, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Green-backed Trogon, Amazonian Motmot, Yellow-billed Nunbird, Gilded Barbet, Channel-billed Toucan, Lettered Aracari, Scaled Piculet, Northern Slaty-Antshrike, Black-faced Antbird, Spot-winged Antbird, Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, White-necked Thrush, Speckled Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Pectoral Sparrow.

Having done well with targets at Bosque Bavaria, the group decided to scout a new area that promised some rare Eastern Llanos specialties. Lagos de Menegua offered great birding on scrubby, secondary forest surrounded by wetlands and fishing ponds. We were surprised by the presence of a male Crestless Curassow and, as a bonus, Striated Heron, Undulated Tinamou, Horned Screamer, Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite, Hoatzin, Greater Ani, Sulphury Flycatcher, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Striped-necked Tody-Tyrant and Red-capped Tanager, among many others.

At Monterredondo we had a ridiculously close encounter with a Tawny-breasted Tinamou walking along the edge of the road.  Perched, we had close views of a group of seven endemic Brown-breasted (Flame-winged) Parakeets. Also, very close views of the Lined-Quail Dove (they were very vocal and showing very well). And many more, including: Speckled Hummingbird, Bronzy Inca, Green-bellied Hummingbird, Golden-headed Quetzal, Montane Foliage-Gleaner, Pearled Treerunner, Black-capped Tyrannulet, Cliff Flycatcher, Black-collared Jay, Spectacled Thrush, Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, one pair of the uncommon Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Capped Conebill, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Ochre-breasted Brush-Finch, Golden-fronted Whitestart and Mountain Cacique, among others.

Surprisingly, we heard over seven Cundinamarca Antpittas calling from the forest, but we could not get our eyes on them.

At Paramo de Sumapaz, the endemic Green-bearded Helmetcrest was seen only once and at great distance, because of restricted access imposed by the Park staff, not allowing visitors to walk on trails any more. Nevertheless, we had close views of two pairs of the endemic Apolinar´s Wren, and good scope views of the Andean Teal & Andean Duck on the lake. In addition, the Tawny Antpitta, Andean Tit-Spinetail and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch were easily seen.

At Chingaza we also saw one male Green-bearded Helmetcrest, but again only briefly and distantly while hovering over Espeletia flowers. We had good views of the endemics Pale-bellied Tapaculo & Silvery-throated Spinetail, and near-endemics Bronze-tailed Thornbill and Rufous-browed Conebill. In addition, we saw well the Andean Guan, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, White-chinned Thistletail, Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, Red-crested Cotinga, Superciliared Hemispingus, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Plushcap, Paramo Seedeater, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Black-backed Grosbeak, Golden-fronted Whitestart and Andean Siskin.

Gardens and feeders at the Hummingbird Observatory are always beautifully kept with good taste and dedication by its owner, painter Victoria Lizarralde. The place has never failed to meet expectations. The feeders were busy as ever, with delightful presence of male & female near-endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet, male & female Black-tailed & Green-tailed Trainbearer, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Saphirewing, Tyrian Metaltail, Glowing Puffleg, Sparkling & Lesser Violetear.

Both Paramo Grande & Vereda Concepción hold great expanses of well-preserved habitats, but both sites can be tough to bird on days with clear skies and strong sun. This time we did well, with second views of the near-endemics Bronze-tailed Thornbill & Rufous-browed Conebill. We also had good repeats for the Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Andean Guan, Tyrian Metaltail and Glowing Puffleg. We saw well the Streaked Tuftedcheek, White-browed Spinetail, Black-capped Tyrannulet, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, White-capped Dipper, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager and Andean Siskin, among many others.

At the Siecha gravel pits we managed to see very well two individuals of the endemic Bogota Rail (we must have heard more than five other birds calling from inside the reedy marsh), plus Noble Snipe, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Striated Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Band-tailed Seedeater, among others.

As always, the Enchanted Gardens are truly enchanting, with hectic activity on the feeders. Birds seen included the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Gorgeted Woodstar (2 males & 1 female), White-necked Jacobin, White-bellied Woodstar Andean Emerald, White-vented Plumeleteer, Black-throated Mango, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Lesser & Sparkling Violetear.

We can never understate how good a birding site Tabacal Lagoon is! It is hard to comprehend how many birders go into this place for just 1 or 2 hours of birding, where the number of quality birds is so high, including specialties, skulkers and uncommon species. We saw many great birds here, including the endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia and near-endemics Short-tailed Emerald, Bar-crested Antshrike and Scrub Tanager. Other highlights included the Ruddy Quail-Dove, Striped Hermit, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Jet Antbird, Blue-lored Antbird, White-bellied Antbird, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Ash-browed Spinetail, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Cinereous Becard, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Black-bellied Wren, Speckle-breasted Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Gray-headed Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Rosy-thrush Tanager and Black-striped Sparrow.  We had repeated views of the Rusty-breasted Antpitta and Red-billed Scythebill.

Overall, an intense, productive trip, with amazing birds and great fun birding!

From left to right: Victoria Lizarralde, Dale Manor, Tony Menart and Thomas Heatley, at the Hummingbird Observatory.

All very stressed!


Birding Colombia through the Southeastern regions of Putumayo & Huila (January 14 – 24, 2018).

26 - 01 - 2018

This was a successful trip to southeastern Colombia, where Hans Jornvall managed to see well nine new birds for his huge lifelist of more than 9200 species, and two additional birds “heard only”. Our trip had the very good support of local guide Brayan Coral Jaramillo, who organized most of the logistics and provided additional guidance.

In the previous week (January 7 – 13), we birded the Rio Claro canyon & Bellavista Forest in mid-Magdalena Valley for White-bearded Manakin (Corapipo leucorrhoa) & Saffron-headed Parrot (Pyrilia pyrilia) (having seen the manakin, but missing the parrot), and Hato La Aurora in the Orinoco region of Colombia for Crestless Curassow (Mitu tuberosum) & Masked Cardinal (Paroaria nigrogenis) (having seen both).

Hans Jornvall after returning from the mid-Magdalena Valley. We stopped at a typical restaurant entering Bogota.

After returning to Bogota from Hato La Aurora, we flew south to Pasto with Avianca Airlines, having an overnight stay at picturesque Laguna de La Cocha. The following day we visited Paramo de Bordoncillo, obtaining great views of both Chestnut-bellied Cotinga (Doliornis remseni) and Masked Mountain-Tanager (Buthraupis wetmorei). On our way to Mocoa, we birded El Trampolín de Las Aves, with splendid views of the White-rimmed Brush-Finch (Atlapetes leucopis). Near Mocoa we visited Campucana Trail, having success with the White-streaked Antvireo (Dysithamnus leucostictus), and hearing but not seeing the Black Tinamou (Tinamus osgoodi).

The picturesque poirt at Laguna de La Cocha.

January 18 to 21, we visited Isla Escondida, a private nature reserve set by Jurgen Beckers, who authored the book “Birdwatching in Colombia” with Pablo Flórez. Here, we managed to see well the highly wanted Buff-tailed Sicklebill (Eutoxeres condamini), and we heard the Chestnut-headed Crake (Anurolimnas castaneiceps) only a few meters away from us.

Near Pitalito we had great support from local guides Jorge Peña and Roso Ortiz. After a challenging ascent by horse to a steep mountain near town, we had the fortune of finding a Highland Tinamou (Nothocercus bonapartei) sitting on a nest. In dense bamboo stands (Chusquea spp.) we saw well the endemics Upper Magdalena Tapaculo (Scytalopus rodriguezi) and a gorgeous pair of the East Andean Antbird (Drymophila caudata). Along the road from Mocoa to Pitalito, we found the endemic Dusky-headed Brush-Finch (Atlapetes fuscoolivaceus). On our final day, we flew from Pitalito to Bogota with Avianca Airlines again.

A second view of El Puerto, at Laguna de La Cocha.


The Eastern Llanos at Hato La Aurora (January 11 – 13, 2018).

15 - 01 - 2018

Crestless Curassow is an uncommon and elusive bird that can defeat many birder´s intention to register the species. Having seasonal behaviors marked by rainfalls, water levels and availability of food resources, the bird is unreliable and somewhat unpredictable. During some months of the year, the bird might attend certain sites & gallery forests, disappearing for the rest of the year. In this case, the bird had eluded Hans Jornvall several times before, gradually becoming a highly desirable target.

Hato La Aurora is a birder´s paradise harboring a huge collection of Eastern Llanos species, some restricted to the Orinoco region, such as Pale-headed Jacamar, Orinoco Goose, Purple-throated Euphonia and White-bearded Flycatcher. Amazing lowland birds are present at Hato La Aurora, like the Jabiru, Maguari Stork, Horned Screamer, Sunbittern, Scarlet Ibis, Double-striped Thick-Knee, Hoatzin, Dwarf Cuckoo, Great Horned Owl, Black-and-white Owl, Burrowing Owl, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Russet-throated Puffbird, Wire-tailed Manakin, Orange-crowned Oriole and many, many more.

With a lifelist over 9200 species seen, it was not surprising that Hans had already bagged all birds listed in the ranch´s inventory, except for two: Crestless Curassow & Masked Cardinal. Therefore, this short visit to Hato La Aurora had the sole intention of finding and seeing these two birds.

We flew from Bogota to Yopal early morning on January 11 (2018) with Avianca Airlines. We met our driver at Yopal´s airport and drove 4 hours to the ranch. Two local guides at the ranch had seen the Curassow in previous days, so we immediately went to the exact location, but we had to return to the lodge without seeing the bird, before the night settled in. However, highlights of this day included 2 Brazilian Teals, 2 Speckled Chachalacas, 2 Woodstorks, 4 Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, 1 Crane Hawk, 1 Pied Lapwing, 2 Double-striped Thicknees, 2 Orange-winged Parrots, 8 Nacunda Nighthawks, 1 White-bearded Hermit, 2 Blue-tailed Emeralds, 4 Pale-headed Jacamars, 1 Chestnut-eared Aracari, 2 White-bearded Flycatchers, 2 Black-faced Tanagers, 1 Orange-crowned Oriole and 2 Purple-throated Euphonias.

The next day we decided to visit a second site where the bird was seen visiting a plantain crop, apparently attracted by fallen fruit. There was a small stream running nearby and a thin but dense gallery forest covering the edge of the stream. Next to the forest was a narrow belt of high pasture with scattered trees and bushes, followed by the plantain plants growing in dense clumps. We waited silently for about 1 hour, and certainly a beautiful male show up, walking slowly between the forest and the plantation, almost leisurely. For some moments, the bird will stand still, nervously looking around, and for some other moments, it will calmly smooth the tail feathers with the bill, almost as if taking a sun bath. The situation went on for about 30 minutes, and it gave us plenty of time for great scope views.

After seeing our main and most difficult target, we used the rest of the day for finding the Masked Cardinal, which quickly showed up near the lodge. Special birds for the day included 5 Horned Screamers, 3 Orinoco Geese, 2 Rufous-vented Chachalacas, 1 Rufescent Tiger-Heron, 4 Whistling Herons, 6 Scarlet Ibises, 2 Sharp-tailed Ibises, 7 Buff-necked Ibises, 1 Roseate Spoonbill, 3 Jabirus, 1 Aplomado Falcon, 1 Sunbittern, 10 Chestnut-fronted Macaws, 4 Hoatzins, 1 Glittering-throated Emerald, 2 Pale-headed Jacamars, 2 Crimson-crested Woodpeckers and 1 Purple-throated Euphonia.

In this short visit, we registered 131 species (127 species seen, plus 4 species heard-only).


Birding Hato La Aurora in the Eastern Llanos with Todd Pepper & Mark Eaton (December 1 – 4, 2017).

07 - 12 - 2017

This was a short visit to a wonderful birding paradise in the Orinoco region of Colombia, where savannas, gallery forests and wetlands form a prodigious landscape home to an amazing fauna.

First day of trip begun with an early morning (6:03 departure) domestic flight from Bogota to Yopal. Immediately after landing, the ranch´s driver picked us up and we drove to Paz de Ariporo, continuing to Montañas del Totumo & Lodge Juan Solito at Hato La Aurora. Birding this day was done along the road, and in the lodge´s gardens and nearby forests.

Second day was a full day trip from the lodge to the ranch´s main house, traversing open savannas and wetlands.

Third day was a shorter day trip, from the lodge to Mata de Palma, a wetland midways to the ranch´s main house. Fourth and last day was mostly rainy, driving back to Yopal´s airport for our 18:45 flight back to Bogota.

The trip was customized around Todd´s and Mark´s target birds, which were just a few: Orinoco Goose, Sharp-tailed Ibis, Crestless Curassow, Pale-headed Jacamar and White-bearded Flycatcher. The Amazonian Black-Tyrant & Pinnated Bittern apparently have been registered at this locality, but they are both extremely uncommon.

Special birds seen at Hato La Aurora and along the roads were: Horned Screamer, Orinoco Goose, Brazilian Teal, Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Crested Bobwhite, Maguari Stork, Jabiru, Anhinga, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Cocoi Heron, Striated & Whistling Heron, Capped Heron, Scarlet Ibis, Sharp-tailed & Bare-faced Ibis, Buff-necked Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Black-collared Hawk, Crane  & Savanna Hawk, Great Black Hawk, Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Double-striped Thick-Knee, Black-necked Stilt, Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover, Wattled Jacana, Large-billed Tern, Pale-vented Pigeon, Scaled Dove, Blue Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Gray-fronted Dove, Striped & Little Cuckoo, Dwarf & Squirrel Cuckoo, Black-and-white Owl, Great Horned Owl, Burrowing Owl, Nacunda Nighthawk, Common Pauraque, White-tailed Nightjar, White-bearded Hermit, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Blue-tailed & Glittering-throated Emerald, Russet-throated Puffbird, Pale-headed & Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Scaled Piculet, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Aplomado Falcon, Yellow-crowned & Orange-winged Parrot, Spectacled Parrotlet, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Blue-crowned & Brown-throated Parakeet, Black-crested & Barred Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Rusty-backed & Pale-breasted Spinetail, Mouse-colored & Yellow Tyrannulet, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Short-crested & Brown-crested Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, White-bearded Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Wire-tailed Manakin, Black-crowned Tityra, White-winged Becard, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Violaceous Jay, White-winged Swallow, Bicolored & Buff-breasted Wren, Black-capped Donacobius, Spectacled & White-necked Thrush, Cocoa Thrush, Yellowish Pipit, Masked Cardinal, Silver-beaked Tanager, Orange-fronted Yellow-Finch, Yellow-browed Sparrow, Eastern & Red-breasted Meadowlark, Oriole Blackbird, Venezuelan Troupial, Yellow Oriole, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Crested Oropendola and Purple-throated Euphonia, among others.

In total, we registered 161 species, including a nice set of range-restricted species that were new to either Todd or Mark, including Orinoco Goose, Sharp-tailed Ibis, Pale-headed Jacamar, White-bearded Flycatcher & Purple-throated Euphonia. Sadly, we missed the Crestless Curassow this time.

Family group of Burrowing Owls at the Eastern Llanos of Colombia.




Birding the Central & Western Andes of Colombia with Anthony Collerton (July 14 – 23, 2017).

25 - 07 - 2017

After landing in Bogota on a direct flight from USA, Anthony took a domestic flight to Pereira with Avianca (July 14, 2017). Soon after landing in Pereira, we met and drove to Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary, lodging there for two nights. We then drove to Manizales, birding en route Cameguadua marsh. The following days we visited Los Nevados National Park and Rio Blanco. Afterwards, we traveled to Tinamu Birding Lodge and Cerro Montezuma, finishing back at Pereira´s airport for a domestic flight back to Bogota and connections back home.

Special birds seen in Otún-Quimbaya included 14 Cauca Guans, 4 Chestnut Wood-Quails, 4 Sickle-winged Guans, 6 Bronze-winged Parrots, 1 Colombian Screech-Owl, 1 Mottled Owl (heard), 2 Rufous-bellied Nighthawks, 1 Speckled Hummingbird, 1 Bronzy Inca, 1 Booted Racket-Tail, 1 Western Emerald (male), 2 Collared Trogons, 4 Highland Motmots, 1 Red-headed Barbet, 4 Southern Emerald Toucanets, 1 Grayish Piculet, 9 Acorn Woodpeckers, 1 Golden-olive Woodpecker (heard), 4 Bar-crested Antshrikes, 4 Moustached Antpittas (heard), 2 Chestnut-crowned Antpittas (heard), 1 Hooded Antpitta, 1 Stiles´s Tapaculo, 2 Strong-billed Woodcreepers, 3 Montane Woodcreepers, 2 Streaked Xenops, 2 Rusty-winged Barbtails, 2 Spotted Barbtails, 1 Lineated Foliage-Gleaner, 2 Streak-capped Treehunters, 2 Red-faced Spinetails, 1 Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, 4 Torrent Tyrannulets, 2 Variegated Bristle-Tyrants, 4 Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrants, 1 Streak-necked Flycatcher, 3 Rufous-breasted Flycatchers, 2 Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrants, 4 Golden-crowned Flycatchers, 3 Dusky-capped Flycatchers, 1 Pale-edged Flycatcher, 9 Red-ruffed Fruitcrows, 1 Barred Becard (male), 1 Black-billed Peppershrike, 1 Rufous-naped Greenlet, 10 Green Jays, 3 Whiskered Wrens, 2 Chestnut-breasted Wrens, 1 White-capped Dipper, 1 Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, 3 White-capped Tanagers, 2 Oleaginous Hemispinguses, 8 Flame-rumped Tanagers, 3 Fawn-breasted Tanagers, 4 Black-capped Tanagers, 3 Scrub Tanagers, 4 Blue-necked Tanagers, 3 Metallic-green Tanagers, 4 Rusty Flowerpiercers, 7 Black-winged Saltators, 2 Chestnut-capped Brush-Finches, 6 White-naped (Yellow-throated) Brush-Finches, 1 Ashy-throated Bush-Finch, 2 Russet-crowned Warblers, 2 Three-striped Warblers, 4 Yellow-bellied Siskins, 7 Lesser Goldfinches and 7 Orange-bellied Euphonias.

The birding at Cameguadua marsh was brief (2 hours) but good as usual, with 8 Striated Herons, 2 Blackish Rails, 6 Purple Gallinules, 6 Spectacled Parrotlets, 12 Blue-headed Parrots, 3 Steely-vented Hummingbirds, 3 Ringed Kingfishers, 1 Green Kingfisher, 1 Great Antshrike (male), 2 Bar-crested Antshrikes, 2 Slaty Spinetails, 6 Vermilion Flycatchers, 2 Pied Water-Tyrants, 4 Rusty-margined Flycatchers, 2 Gray Seedeaters, 1 Rudy-breasted Seedeater (male), 2 Grayish Saltators, 1 Streaked Saltator and 1 Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, among others.

Los Nevados National Park holds special high-altitude birds, and in our day visit we saw 3 Andean Teals, 1 Andean Duck (male), 2 Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles, 1 Andean Pygmy-Owl (heard), 1 Tourmaline Sunangel, 2 Rainbow-bearded Thornbills (male & female), 1 Buffy Helmetcrest (male), 3 Tyrian Metaltails, 5 Viridian Metaltails, 3 Black-thighed Pufflegs, 5 Golden-breasted Pufflegs, 8 Shinning Sunbeams, 1 Collared Inca, 3 Buff-winged Starfrontlets, 2 Mountain Velvetbreasts, 1 Sword-billed Hummingbird, 5 Great Saphirewings, 2 Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans, 1 Yellow-vented Woodpecker, 1 Rufous Antpitta, 1 Tawny Antpitta, 1 Ash-colored Tapaculo, 1 Paramo Tapaculo, 2 Stout-billed Cinclodes, 1 Andean Tit-Spinetail, 3 White-browed Spinetails, 1 Many-striped Canastero, 2 White-banded Tyrannulets, 4 White-throated Tyrannulets, 2 Brown-backed Chat-Tyrants, 8 Brown-bellied Swallows, 6 Sedge Wrens, 1 Hooded Mountain-Tanager, 2 Lacrimose Mountain-Tanagers, 4 Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanagers, 2 Blue-backed Conebills, 2 Glossy Flowerpiercers, 5 Plumbeous Sierra-Finches, 8 Plain-colored Seedeaters, 4 Paramo Seedeaters, 1 Gray-browed Brush-Finch, 4 Pale-naped Brush-Finches, 2 Slaty Brush-Finches, 2 Black-crested Warblers, 4 Golden-fronted Whitestarts and 6 Andean Siskins, among others.

The paramo vegetation at the Visitor´s Center of Los Nevados National Park is one of the best sites to see the

endemic Buffy Helmetcrest.

We birded Rio Blanco for one full day plus one morning. Rio Blanco holds a wonderful mid-elevation forest and our birding covered an altitudinal gradient from 2100 meters to 2900 meters. We saw many birds, and will mention here just the most interesting of all. We enjoyed seeing 7 Sickle-winged Guans, 3 Chestnut Wood-Quails, 10 Golden-plumed Parakeets, 30 Scarlet-fronted Parakeets, 2 White-throated Screech-Owls, 1 Rufous-banded Owl (heard), 1 Lyre-tailed Nightjar (male), 1 White-throated Wedgebill, 3 Tourmaline Sunangels, 2 Speckled Hummingbirds, 5 Long-tailed Sylphs, 3 Bronzy Incas, 5 Collared Incas, 4 Fawn-breasted Brilliants, 6 White-bellied Woodstars, 4 Golden-headed Quetzals, 1 Masked Trogon, 1 Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, 2 Bar-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 Crimson-mantled Woodpeckers, 2 Powerful Woodpeckers, 2 Streak-headed Antbirds, 5 Chestnut-crowned Antpittas, 1 Bicolored Antpitta, 1 Chestnut-naped Antpitta (heard), 2 Brown-banded Antpittas, 1 Slate-crowned Antpitta, 1 Ocellated Tapaculo, 5 Ash-colored Tapaculos (heard), 3 Blackish Tapaculos (one seen, two heard), 4 Spillmann´s Tapaculos (one seen, three heard), 1 Tyrannine Woodcreeper, 2 Montane Woodcreepers, 5 Streaked Xenops, 9 Pearled Trerunners, 3 Black-capped Tyrannulets, 2 Mountain Elaenias, 2 White-tailed Tyrannulets, 3 Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatchers, 4 Cinnamon Flycatchers, 1 Smoky Bush-Tyrant, 2 Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrants, 1 Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, 4 Rufous-breasted Flycatchers, 2 Pale-edged Flycatchers, 1 Green-and-black Fruiteater, 4 Barred Becards, 4 Black-billed Peppershrikes, 4 Brown-capped Vireos, 3 Pale-footed Swallows, 4 Mountain Wrens, 6 Rufous Wrens, 8 Sharpe´s Wrens, 1 White-capped Dipper, 1 Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush,  6 White-capped Tanagers, 4 Black-capped Hemispinguses, 14 Gray-hooded Bush-Tanagers, 2 Grass-green Tanagers, 4 Lacrimose Mountain-Tanagers, 12 Blue-winged Mountain-Tanagers, 5 Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanagers, 1 Fawn-breasted Tanager, 2 Blue-capped Tanagers, 4 Blue-and-black Tanagers, 3 Beryl-spangled Tanagers, 8 Capped Conebills, 4 Plushcaps, 1 Masked Saltator, 1 Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, 3 Gray-browed Brush-Finches, 4 White-naped (Yellow-throated) Brush-Finches, 4 Slaty Brush-Finches, 2 Black-crested Warblers, 4 Russet-crowned Warblers, 1 Slate-throated Whitestart, 4 Golden-fronted Whitestarts, 3 Mountain Caciques (heard), 4 Yellow-billed Caciques (heard) and 2 Yellow-bellied Siskins.

We birded one afternoon and one morning at Tinamu Birding Lodge, and we managed to add more nice birds to a growing list, including 2 Little Tinamous (heard), 2 Buff-necked Ibises (fly overs), 2 Pale-vented Pigeons, 4 Gray-headed Doves, 2 Spectacled Parrotlets, 15 Blue-headed Parrots, 2 Squirrel Cuckoos, 2 Striped Cuckoos, 1 Tropical Screech-Owl (heard), 2 Common Potoos, 10 White-necked Jacobins, 1 Stripe-throated Hermit, 6 Green Hermits, 8 Lesser Violetears, 1 Sparkling Violetear, 11 Black-throated Mangos, 1 Long-billed Starthroat, 6 White-vented Plumeleteers, 12 Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, 10 Steely-vented Hummingbirds, 1 Highland Motmot, 2 Moustached Puffbirds, 2 Acorn Woodpeckers, 3 Red-crowned Woodpeckers, 1 Smoky-brown Woodpecker, 1 Spot-breasted Woodpecker, 1 Lineated Woodpecker, 1 Great Antshrike, 1 Bar-crested Antshrike, 2 Parker´s Antbirds, 2 Jet Antbirds, 2 Blue-lored Antbirds, 2 Scaled Antpittas (heard), 1 Plain-brown Woodcreeper, 2 Cocoa Woodcreepers, 4 Streak-headed Woodcreepers, 2 Pale-breasted Spinetails, 2 Slaty Spinetails, 4 Sooty-headed Tyrannulets, 1 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, 2 Golden-faced Tyrannulets, 2 Ochre-bellied Flycatchers, 1 Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, 2 Yellow-olive Flycatchers, 1 Tawny-breasted Flycatcher, 2 Vermilion Flycatchers, 2 Streaked Flycatchers, 3 Golden-collared Manakins, 2 Cinereous Becards, 1 Red-eyed Vireo, 2 Rufous-naped Greenlets, 2 Scaly-breasted Wrens, 2 White-breasted Wood-Wrens, 2 Clay-colored Thrushes, 3 Gray-headed Tanagers, 2 White-shouldered Tanagers, 2 Crimson-backed Tanagers, 2 Bay-headed Tanagers, 3 Green Honeycreepers, 2 Thick-billed Seed-Finches, 2 Streaked Saltators, 2 Buff-rumped Warblers and 2 Golden-crowned Warblers, among many others.

Food is good and abundantly served in Colombia. As an example, this dish is the representative plate for the Andean region of Colombia in the Central Andes, called the “Bandeja Paisa”.

Our final birding locality was Cerro Montezuma, on the Pacific slope of the Western Andes. This is an outstanding site for mountain-Choco specialties. The number of species we registered in two days is very high, and we will mention here just the specialties. We saw 1 Tawny-breasted Tinamou, 1 Wattled Guan, 2 Plumbeous Pigeons, 1 White-throated Quail-Dove, 30 Scaly-naped Parrots, 1 Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, 2 Tawny-bellied Hummingbirds, 3 Green-fronted Lancebills, 8 Violet-tailed Sylphs, 1 Greenish Puffleg, 1 Brown Inca, 7 Velvet-purple Coronets, 2 Booted Racket-Tails, 8 Rufous-gaped Hillstars, 2 Purple-bibbed Whitetips, 2 Green-crowned Brilliants, 4 Empress Brilliants, 20 Purple-throated Woodstars, 6 Andean Emeralds, 2 Golden-headed Quetzals (heard), 1 Collared Trogon, 2 Toucan Barbets, 2 Golden-olive Woodpeckers, 2 Uniform Antshrikes, 3 Bicolored Antvireos, 1 Parker´s Antbird, 1 Plain-backed Antpitta (heard), 1 Yellow-breasted Antpitta, 1 Ochre-breasted Antpitta, 2 Tatama Tapaculos, 2 Choco Tapaculos, 3 Nariño Tapaculos, 2 Wedge-billed Woodcreepers, 1 Spotted Woodcreeper, 1 Brown-billed Scythebill, 1 Buffy Tuftedcheek, 1 Streaked Tuftedcheek, 2 Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaners, 2 Uniform Treehunters, 6 Fulvous-dotted Treerunners, 2 Red-faced Spinetails, 2 Rufous Spinetails, 2 Black-capped Tyrannulets, 1 Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant, 1 Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, 1 Streak-necked Flycatcher, 2 Black-throated Tody-Tyrants, 4 Handsome Flycatchers, 1 Scaled Fruiteater, 1 Golden-winged Manakin, 1 Club-winged Manakin, 1 Barred Becard, 2 Beautiful Jays, 2 Black-chested Jays, 2 Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireos, 2 Munchique Wood-Wrens, 1 Chestnut-breasted Wren, 6 Black Solitaires, 2 Glossy-black Thrushes, 2 Black-and-gold Tanagers, 5 Gold-ringed Tanagers, 2 Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers, 2 Black-chinned Mountain-Tanagers, 1 Purplish-mantled Tanager, 2 Glistening-green Tanagers, 1 Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, 4 Dusky-faced Tanagers, 1 Buff-throated Saltator, 2 Black-headed Brush-Finches, 4 Olive Finches, 5 Tricolored Brush-Finches, 3 Dusky Bush-Finches, 4 Crested Ant-Tanagers, 2 Ochre-breasted Tanagers, 2 Golden-fronted Redstarts, 3 Orange-bellied Euphonias, 12 Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias and 2 Yellow-collared Chlorophonias.

Overall, this was a very nice trip, with 377 species registered in 8 days of birding, of which 75 were lifers for Anthony.

Michelle (Leopoldina) & Anthony, having breakfast in the field, on top of Cerro Montezuma.


Andean Endemics tour with British crew: from the Eastern Andes to the mid-Magdalena Valley & Central Andes of Colombia (March 1 – 14, 2017).

16 - 03 - 2017

This was a private birding tour for Allan Hale, Ian Black, Ray Gribble & Malcolm Rains from UK. Starting in Bogota, tour covered the Eastern Andes near Bogota, visiting Chingaza National Park, Siecha gravel pits, the Hummingbird Observatory at La Calera, La Florida Park, Tabacal Lagoon and the Enchanted Gardens of San Francisco at La Vega.

The mid-Magdalena Valley was represented by the Bellavista Forest at Victoria, El Dosymedio near Puerto Boyaca, El Refugio at Rio Claro canyon, the road to Puerto Nare near Doradal, and the adjacent road to El Palacio de Los Frisoles in Cocorna.

The second leg of the tour saw us visiting La Romera Ecopark at Sabaneta in the Medellin suburbs, the Quebrada Sinifana near Bolombolo, the road to Ventanas´s Pass, and Morro Amarillo near Jardin.

Finally, the itinerary covered comprehensively the Central Andes in the coffee region of the country, with great birding at Los Nevados National Park, the hummingbird feeders at Hotel Termales del Ruiz, Rio Blanco, Tinamu Birding Lodge, Cameguadua marsh and Otun-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary. Flight back to Bogota was through Pereira´s airport.

As a result, Malcolm had 112, Allan 88 and Ray 120 lifers, not counting the “heards only”.

In the Eastern Andes section of the tour (days 1 & 2) some of the special birds recorded included Andean Teal, Andean Duck, Lesser Scaup, White-tailed Kite, Black-Hawk Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Bogota Rail, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Noble Snipe, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Spectacled Parrotlet, Stripe-throated Hermit, Sparkling Violetear, Black-throated Mango, Black-tailed & Green-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail, Glowing & Coppery-bellied Puffleg, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Saphirewing, White-bellied & Gorgeted Woodstar, Red-billed Emerald, White-vented Plumeleteer, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Andean Emerald, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Red-crowned & Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, White-chinned Thistletail, Silvery-throated & Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Yellow-bellied & Mountain Elaenia, White-throated Tyrannulet, Subtropical Doradito, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Cattle Tyrant, Pyratic & Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Striolated & White-bearded Manakin, Brown-bellied Swallow, Gray-breasted Martin, Long-billed Gnatwren, Swainson´s & Pale-breasted Thrush, Black-billed Thrush, Tropical Mockingbird, Superciliaried & Black-headed Hemispingus, Crimson-backed Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Golden-crowned Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Rufous-browed Conebill, Glossy Flowerpiercer, Black Flowerpiercer, Masked Flowerpiercer, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Grayish & Streaked Saltator, Rosy Thrush-Tanager (heard), Grassland Yellow-Finch, Ruddy-breasted & Band-tailed Seedeater,  Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Black-backed Grossbeak, Golden-fronted Redstart, Black-crested & Rufous-capped Warbler, Yellow-backed Oriole, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Andean Siskin and Golden-rumped Euphonia, among many others.

From left to right: Allan, Ian, Ray & Malcolm, on Ventanas´s Pass after seeing the endemic Yellow-eared Parrots cruising by as they flew from their roosting sites to distant feeding grounds.

Special birds of the mid-Magdalena Valley leg of the trip (days 3, 4 & 5) included Northern Screamer, Colombian Chachalaca, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Striated Heron, Cocoi Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Savanna Hawk, Russet-crowned Crake (heard), Yellow-billed Tern, Wattled Jacana, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Spectacled Parrotlet, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Mealy Parrot, Greater Ani, Oilbird, White-collared Swift, Gray-rumped Swift, Short-tailed Swift, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Pale-bellied Hermit, Purple-crowned Fairy, Long-billed Hermit, Blue-chested Hummingbird, White-tailed Trogon, Green Kingfisher, Broad-billed Motmot (heard), Rufous Motmot, Pied Puffbird, Barred Puffbird, White-whiskered Puffbird, White-mantled Barbet,  Channel-billed (Citron-throated) Toucan, Collared Aracari, Olivaceous Piculet, Beautiful Woodpecker, Russet-throated Puffbird, Cinnamon & Lineated Woodpecker, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Bar-crested & Black-crowned Antshrike, Pacific & Slaty Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Magdalena Antbird, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Olivaceous Flatbill, Black-tailed Flycatcher, Acadian Flycatcher, Pied Water-Tyrant, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Long-tailed Tyrant, Streaked Flycatcher, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Panama Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, White-bibbed Manakin, Striolated Manakin, White-bearded Manakin, Rufous Piha, Cinereous & Cinnamon Becard, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Scrub Greenlet, White-thighed Swallow, Southern Rough-Winged Swallow, Gray-breasted Martin, White-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Band-backed Wren, Bicolored Wren, Black-bellied Wren, Bay Wren, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Sooty-headed Wren, Gray-headed Tanager, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Swallow Tanager, Black-faced Tanager, Blue Dacnis, Purple Honeycreeper, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Dusky-faced Tanager, Buff-throated Saltator, Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Black-striped Sparrow, Tennessee Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Canada Warbler, Golden-crowned Warbler, Buff-rumped Warbler, Crested Oropendola, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Oriole, Red-breasted Blackbird, Velvet-fronted Euphonia and Fulvous-vented Euphonia.

Happy birders at Victoria after spotting the endemic Beautiful Woodpecker on scattered trees in the middle of an Avocado plantation.

From Sabaneta to Jardin we also had a good set of specialties, including Sickle-winged Guan, Colombian Chachalaca, Yellow-eared Parrot, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Speckle-faced & Bronze-winged Parrot, Green Hermit, Green-fronted Lancebill, Booted Racket-Tail, Western & Andean Emerald, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Highland Motmot, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Grayish Piculet, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Rufous & Red-faced Spinetail, Pearled Treerunner, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Bar-crested & Black-crowned Antshrike,  Parker´s Antbird, Ocellated Tapaculo, Blackish Tapaculo, Stiles´s Tapaculo, Spillmann´s Tapaculo, Sooty-headed & Black-capped Tyrannulet, Greenish & Mountain Elaenia, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Black-throated Pygmy-Tyrant, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Yellow-olive & Cinnamon Flycatcher, Smoke-colored Pewee, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Golden-crowned & Pale-edged Flycatcher, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Barred & White-winged Becard, Black-chested & Green Jay, Whiskered & Antioquia Wren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, White-capped Dipper, Andean Solitaire, Flame-rumped & Blue-capped Tanager, Lacrimose & Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Golden-crowned Tanager, Black-capped Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Golden Tanager, Guira Tanager, Blue-backed Conebill, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Black-winged Saltator, White-naped (Yellow-throated) Brush-Finch, Slaty Brush-Finch, Common Bush-Finch, Hepatic Tanager, Citrine & Three-striped Warbler, Russet-backed Oropendola, Mountain Cacique, Yellow-backed Oriole, Red-bellied Grackle, Giant Cowbird, Yellow-bellied Siskin and Thick-billed Euphonia.

The high paramo ecosystem, from the road to Los Nevados National Park.

As always, the last leg of the trip at the Central Andes (days 9 – 14) was very productive. Highlights included Torrent Duck, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Andean & Cauca Guan, Sickle-winged Guan, Crested Bobwhite, Chestnut Wood-Quail, White-rumped Hawk, Sharp-shinned (Plain-breasted) Hawk, Purple Gallinule, Gray-headed Dove, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Bronze-winged Parrot, Dwarf & Striped Cuckoo, Colombian & White-throated Screech-Owl, Mottled Owl, Common Potoo, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, White-throated Wedgebill, Tourmaline Sunangel, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Buffy Helmetcrest, Viridian Metaltail, Black-thighed & Golden-breasted Puffleg, Shinning Sunbeam, Bronzy & Collared Inca, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Mountain Velvetbreast, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Saphirewing, Booted Racket-Tail, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Long-billed Starthroat, White-bellied Woodstar, Western Emerald, Golden-headed Quetzal, Collared & Masked Trogon, Highland Motmot, Moustached Puffbird, Southern Emerald Toucanet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Grayish Piculet, Yellow-vented & Golden-olive Woodpecker, Crimson-mantled & Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Powerful Woodpecker, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Andean Tit-Spinetail, White-chinned Thistletail, Slaty Spinetail, Streak-capped & Flammulated Treehunter, Streaked Xenops, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Strong-billed & Black-banded Woodcreeper, Cocoa & Montane Woodcreeper, Great & Bar-crested Antshrike, Parker´s & Jet Antbird, Blue-lored (Immaculate) Antbird, Moustached Antpitta, Scaled Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Bicolored Antpitta, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Rufous Antpitta, Tawny Antpitta, Brown-banded Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, Ash-colored Tapaculo, Blackish Tapaculo, Spillmann´s Tapaculo, Paramo Tapaculo (heard), Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, White-tailed & White-banded Tyrannulet, Torrent Tyrannulet, Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, Variegated & Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Slaty-backed & Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Black-billed Peppershrike, Brown-capped Vireo, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Black-collared Jay, Brown-bellied Swallow, Sedge Wren, Speckle-breasted Wren, Rufous & Sharpe´s Wren, Chestnut-breasted Wren, White-capped Dipper, Clay-colored Thrush, Black-capped Hemispingus, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Oleagineous Hemispingus, Black-eared Hemispingus, Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, Gray-headed Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Scarlet-bellied & Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Golden Tanager, Capped Conebill, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Plushcap, Black-winged Saltator, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Slaty Finch, Plain-colored Seedeater, Paramo Seedeater, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Gray-browed Brush-Finch, Slaty Brush-Finch, Common Bush-Finch, Ashy-throated Bush-Finch, Tropical Parula, Golden-fronted Redstart, Citrine Warbler, Russet-crowned Warbler, Andean & Yellow-bellied Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, Orange-bellied Euphonia and Blue-naped Chlorophonia.

Upper montane forest at 3,000 meters, from the Old Road to Los Nevados.

The lovely city of Manizales, seen from El Mirador de Rio Blanco.

Ian, Malcolm, Ray & Allan, birding the cloud forest at Rio Blanco.