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9 days in Colombia, March 2019

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Old Thursday 11th April 2019, 12:57   #26
kb57
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More from El Paujil - Puerto Pinzon

1) The Parulid warbler that thinks its a pipit - Northern Waterthrush
2) The garden and accommodation block at the Pro Aves reserve centre
3) View across the forest from the tower
4) Rucksack getting loaded onto the pickup roof, Puerto Pinzon
5) The original curly perm - Blue-billed Curassow
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Old Thursday 11th April 2019, 13:12   #27
kb57
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19 March: Bogota – flight to Amsterdam

My final day in Colombia started off cloudy and cool, but dry. I had decided to take the Monserrate funicular, which ascends a hill on the edge of the city, trying out my ‘Easy Taxi’ app for the first time for the relatively short yellow cab ride from my hotel.
I’d read safety warnings about this site, specifically the risk of getting robbed while walking up or down – it’s fine at weekends when it is busy, but then you probably don’t get to see too many birds. I reckoned, correctly, that riding the funicular up and down and staying at the top would be OK, but had decided to leave my camera behind in the hotel safe, putting my binoculars in my jacket pocket for the journey there.
The area just to the left as you exit the funicular station proved productive, along the Stations of the Cross which lead up to the hilltop church. There were flowering shrubs planted below the path, with mature forest beyond. The now-familiar Great Thrushes and Rufous-collared Sparrows were frequent, but I soon saw my main target for the site, Shining Sunbeam, as well as Glossy Flowerpiercer, one of which I watched doing its piercing thing at the base of an Abutilon flower. I walked up the steps to the church, and had a look back over the other side of the hill towards the city, then found a place for a coffee and cheese-filled bread for breakfast.
Some Brown-bellied Swallows spent a little time hawking for insects around the hilltop.
Wandering back down to the Stations of the Cross path, I came upon a small flock of Andean Siskins, before adding Sword-billed Hummingbird, Black Flowerpiercer, Blackburnian Warbler, and a very close-up view of Grey-browed Brushfinch. By now more people were arriving on the funicular, including a party of English-speaking tourists with a guide, who walked past my stake-out by the second Station of the Cross.
How much does it rain here?’ asked one
Well, it rains quite a lot in the Andes’ replied the guide
Where are the Andes?
We are in the Andes here – you’re at 3100m…
I exchanged a wry smile with another of their party.
Back at the funicular base, the taxi app got me back to the hotel with a short wait – I was getting the hang of the app; it tells you who is coming, where they are on a map, and approximately how long they’ll take to arrive - you just have to look out for their registration number, which is posted on the sides as well as the front of the taxi.
I did my final packing, taking my rucksack with me this time; it was approaching midday, but I decided I still had time to visit the botanical gardens, which was on the way to the airport from the Ibis, and caught another yellow taxi. By now, the weather had turned pleasantly warm and sunny.
You buy a ticket for the gardens at an office just outside, then hand it in as you go through the entrance gate. I could’ve got in free on an over 60s ticket, but it seemed a little unfair for a relatively rich Westerner to be avoiding the very modest entry charge. There’s a left luggage desk at the gate, so I left my bag behind, just taking my binoculars into the garden. Typically, as at Monserrate I got some good close views which would’ve made for decent photos, and felt like it would’ve also been safe enough here to carry my camera.
The gardens are well maintained, with a lake and woodland, and an area of paramo habitat on a low hill. Heading to the ‘paramo’ area, I added Common Gallinule round the lake, then got a good view of a Roadside Hawk in some taller trees. There were the usual Great Thrushes and Rufous-collared Sparrows, as well as some hummingbirds around. In the ‘paramo’ area I was trying to get onto a small finch when another birder appeared – a guy called Eduardo, from Spain. He knew Colombian birds well, and soon confirmed the finch as another siskin (Spinus) species, Lesser Goldfinch. He also confirmed that we were in the best place for my other target of the day, the near-endemic Rufous-browed Conebill, but unfortunately today it wasn’t to be. We did add a number of other species however, including Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Kingbird and Yellow-backed Oriole. There was also an Empidonax sp. flycatcher – according to Eduardo probably Alder, but not possible to be 100% sure here. Time was getting on and I realised I needed to get to the airport for my flight – however, acting on his tipoff, I returned to the lake for a closer look at an area near some reeds, adding the final species to my trip list – an immature Purple Gallinule.
I had about 10 minutes wait for my taxi to arrive, but still made it to the airport with time for some quick souvenir shopping before boarding my flight. Any hopes I had of adding to my list on a brief stopover in Cartagena were dashed by the fact my window was completely misted up, and we weren’t allowed off the plane, which soon took on extra passengers. It was dark when we lifted off again…my extra legroom seat by the window paid off, and I drifted off to sleep somewhere north of the Dominican Republic, waking for breakfast as we approached the south-west tip of Ireland.
Really enjoyed Colombia - although my trip list might not be that impressive, I saw all my main targets - Andean cock-of-the-rock, yellow-eared parrot, oilbird, and blue-billed curassow - although chestnut-naped antpitta undoubtedly stole the show!
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Old Thursday 11th April 2019, 17:58   #28
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Nice report & some good photos.
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Can't see the birds for the trees!
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Old Thursday 11th April 2019, 23:47   #29
Jeff hopkins
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Wow. I remember the road to El Paujil as being a long, dusty, and potholed dirt road. And we actually took a boat the last part of the way. Hard to imagine public transport to there.

But no owls visiting the dining hall?
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 09:54   #30
kb57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foresttwitcher View Post
Nice report & some good photos.
Thanks...my first trip report, so appreciate the comments!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff hopkins View Post
Wow. I remember the road to El Paujil as being a long, dusty, and potholed dirt road. And we actually took a boat the last part of the way. Hard to imagine public transport to there.

But no owls visiting the dining hall?
It still is a dirt road - public transport is a Mazda 4x4 pickup; although mostly it would be fine to drive, some short sections are really badly potholed - I have no idea how the guy I saw as I was leaving had got a tiny Daihatsu hire car there without damaging the underside.

I don't think the river was high enough for a boat when I was there, it had steep exposed mud banks - the track from Puerto Pinzon was dry, so I just walked.

No owls in the dining hall I'm afraid (and the curassows only there for one of the two evenings I stayed)
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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 09:18   #31
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I too very much enjoyed this trip report, in particular the fact that it gave an impression of independent travel in Colombia as well as the more birding-related parts. Thanks for taking the trouble to write it up.

Andrea
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Old Saturday 13th April 2019, 14:46   #32
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Very interesting report.

I really appreciate you going into so much detail, there's very useful information here.

My wife and I are Colombians, and just started birding in January. So far we've been exploring the south west of the county (around where we live), and when we eventually explore the west-center region, the information you've provided here will prove helpful.

We are only just beginning, so we don't have your pro-birder skills, but armed with Ayerbe's Avifauna guide and some patience, we are enjoying the birds.
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 12:53   #33
kb57
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Originally Posted by kitefarrago View Post
I too very much enjoyed this trip report, in particular the fact that it gave an impression of independent travel in Colombia as well as the more birding-related parts. Thanks for taking the trouble to write it up.

Andrea
Thanks Andrea, really appreciate your comments.

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Originally Posted by Adun View Post
Very interesting report.

I really appreciate you going into so much detail, there's very useful information here.

My wife and I are Colombians, and just started birding in January. So far we've been exploring the south west of the county (around where we live), and when we eventually explore the west-center region, the information you've provided here will prove helpful.

We are only just beginning, so we don't have your pro-birder skills, but armed with Ayerbe's Avifauna guide and some patience, we are enjoying the birds.
Really appreciate your comments, especially as you are Colombians! I wouldn't describe myself as having 'pro-birder' skills though, in fact I felt like a beginner again in Colombia! There are some really good birders in Colombia though - Guillermo Nagy has particularly good local knowledge of the Jardin area, and also guides at Las Tangaras.

You definitely have the best guidebook with Ayerbe's Avifauna - easily the best I saw of the available options.
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 12:55   #34
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Trip species list

Bird list exported from Scythebill with extra notes and species identified to genus or family only added.
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