Touring for Central Andes Endemics: how good birding in Colombia can be (October 6 – 15, 2012).

17 - 10 - 2012

Birded the Central & Western Andes from October 6-15 (2012) with Robert & Sarah Carr from Boston (Massachusetts).  After traveling 1,200 kilometers we managed to see or hear 22 out of 28 expected endemics. We saw 327 species and “heard only” 21 species, for a total of 348 species in 8 days. In addition to the endemics, we saw 55 species considered to be true Andean specialties. For a detailed itinerary, please download the PDF that describes our medium length “Central Andes Endemics” tour from the Tours section of this web page.

Birds seen included the Grayish Piculet and Colombian Chachalaca at El Vinculo reserve; Blackish Rail & Cinnamon Teal at the Cartago marshes; Wilson’s  Phalarope on October 9th at the Cameguadua marsh (a rare migrant in this part of the country); Multicolored Tanager, Stile´s Tapaculo, Cauca Guan, Colombian Screech-Owl, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow at Otún-Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary; Brown-banded, Slate-crowned, Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-naped and Undulated Antpittas at Río Blanco, plus Chestnut Wood-Quail, Golden-fronted Whitestar, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Rusty-faced Parrot, Golden-headed Quetzal, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled & Powerful Woodpeckers, White-throated Screech-Owl, Band-winged &  Lyre-tailed Nightjars, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Pearled Treerunner, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Long-tailed Antbird, Dusky Piha, Black-collared Jay and Red-hooded Tanager, among many others.

Our Grand Vitara 4×4 allowed us to scout the Old Road to Los Nevados, where we had great views of the Black-thighed and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Rainbow-bearded and Purple-backed Thornbills, Mountain Velvetbreast, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Tyrian and Viridian Metaltails. At 4,000 meters we enjoyed the Bearded Helmetcrest and as we came down the mountain encountered a group of Black-backed Bush-Tanager and a gorgeous Andean Pygmy-Owl vocalizing from a tree.

A short but productive visit to Neira road gave us a close encounter with the endemic  Yellow-headed Brush-Finch and a good sighting of the Moustached Puffbird. At Morro Amarillo we had amazing looks at a female Hook-billed Kite, Slate-colored Seedeater, Guira Tanager, Yellow-backed Oriole, Black-chested Jay and a close encounter with Parker’s Antbird, among many other birds.

Final day birding the road to Ventanas Pass above Jardín allowed us to see 30 Yellow-eared Parrrots, plus Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Citrine Warbler, Black-capped Tyrannulet and Black-throated Pygmy-Tyrant.  On the afternoon we encountered a group of 7 gorgeous Red-bellied Grackles moving along with the beautiful Scarlet-rumped Cacique (the high altitude uropygialis subspecies) and Russet-backed Oropendolas. Closed the day with a farewell visit to the Cock-of-the-Rock lek near town.

In the words of Robert Carr after returning to Boston: “Dear Daniel, we had a great time on the trip!  This was certainly the best birding trip we’ve ever been on, and the memories will last with us forever.  We are looking forward to the chance when we can plan a return visit to bird a different region of Colombia”.