The Eastern Andes, mid-Magdalena Valley, Santa Marta Mountains & La Guajira peninsula with Katy Krigbaum & Birgit Felser (Sept. 2 – 21, 2015).

23 - 09 - 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.