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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Colombia April 2015 - Andes, Santa Marta, Mitu (1 Viewer)


Incoherently Rambling .....
United Kingdom
Well its that time again to fly off to somewhere new..... Myself and fellow BF member Goyter (Jeff) embark on our grand tour for 2015. Colombia has been high on the trip list for a number of years and now as from Monday it becomes reality. We visited the Birdfair this year and spent sometime with Chris Calonje the owner of Colombiabirdwatch.com tour company who put together a private tour for myself and Jeff including the three key areas that we wanted to visit.

Here we are half a year later ready to start our tour of the Central\ Western Andes, Santa Marta mountains and the Amazon region of Mitu.

Basic tour itinerary is :

Day 1 Arrive in Bogota
Day 2 Flight to Pereira and drive to Montezuma with Birding Montezuma Lodge
Day 3 Montezuma Upper Part
Day 4 Montezuma Lower Part
Day 5 Montezuma-Rio Blanco with Birding Rio Blanco Lodge
Day 6 Rio Blanco
Day 7 Los Nevados and flight to Barranquilla
Day 8 Isla Salamnca-Minca Sierras Sound
Day 9 Minca-El Dorado El Dorado
Day 10 El Dorado El Dorado
Day 11 El Dorado-Minca Sierras Sound
Day 12 Minca-Riohacha (Tayrona National Park) Barbacoas
Day 13 Los Flamencos National Park (flight to Bogota)
Day 14 Bogota-Mitu Los Paisas
Day 15 Mitu Los Paisas
Day 16 Mitu Los Paisas
Day 17 Mitu Los Paisas
Day 18 Mitu - Bogota
Day 19 Depart Bogota

An added interest is that Noah Stryker will join us for 4 or 5 days in the Andes whilst he is undertaking his Birding without Borders big year record attempt, so we should have some good birding and interesting conversation from day 1........

I will as usual try to compile a rolling report as we go, but apologies now for the many spelling mistakes that will occur as my fingers struggle with my small handheld device.....

So envious, Dave, have a great time. I was in the country for a week recently, wish it had been three (or four)...

You will just love El Dorado - we couldn't stay (they were booked solid), just went up on a day trip, but it was definitely the highlight of our trip. If you have any time in Bogotá, I highly recommend the Humedal de la Conejera - an oasis of peace (and numerous, point-blank-range views of various rails*) in a crazy city.

Peter C.

*No, not THE rail, unfortunately - that was heard-only. Have to go back for that one. Good sightings of Silvery-throated Spinetail there though, which was great, since it's a bird with a positively tiny range.
Cheers Peter. Looking at google earth it looks like Humedal de la Conejera is across the city so maybe a nightmare to get to in limited time, however we are very close to Bogota Botanical gardens. That could be an interesting place to spend a few hours if we get time on one of our two or three stopover mornings.

Would be interesting to see what the species list is for the gardens, although I have found this info:

Parque Simon Bolivar & Jardin Botanico

These parkland areas are perfectly combined for some amazing inner-city birding, and a range of species practically on your doorstep. With Great Egret, Blue-winged teal and Vermillion Flycatcher commonly seen in the park, and the Botanical Gardens filled with hummingbird species such as Sparkling Violetear and Black Flower Piercer, a simple stroll around the area will yield a good number of species.

This certainly looks do-able

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Looking forward to the report

Looking forward to the report as we will hopefully use the information to put a trip together late next year.
Anyway hope things go well and you get lots of chances to use the new camera.
Cheers everyone

Don't be too disappointed if you get inundated with updates of boring birds such as Hummers and Tanagers.....
It's silly o'clock here in the bogota overnight hotel and waiting for the alarm to go off.... We catch a plane ride to the central Andes in about 5 hrs time where we pick up our guide and Noah. Due to the fog at manchester we left late and only just made our connection at heathrow, happily everything else ran smoothly. Don't care what the first bird is I see as long as its not a scanky feral street pigeon, I have come way too far to be disappointed by that!
It's silly o'clock here in the bogota overnight hotel and waiting for the alarm to go off.... We catch a plane ride to the central Andes in about 5 hrs time where we pick up our guide and Noah. Due to the fog at manchester we left late and only just made our connection at heathrow, happily everything else ran smoothly. Don't care what the first bird is I see as long as its not a scanky feral street pigeon, I have come way too far to be disappointed by that!

Hmm... well, I don't think there's a lot of chance of that, I was in Bogotá for two days, didn't see a single pigeon. Did see lots of Great Thrush, though, they're neat! Might depend on the neighbourhood.
Whatever my mate Dave see's as his first bird it will totally upset me! Hope its going well Dave and looking forward to the updates. Just model it on Jos's trip reports!

Cheers, Phil.
Well I am way behind due to not having internet for a while. Anyway the first bird was a shiny cowbird on the roof opposite the hotel recepti
Haha the Internet cut out leaving the suspence.... I guess Noah's blog has got ahead of me! Anyway we were met at pereira airport by Chris and we drove off up into the western Andes where we stopped at a lovely town called Apia here we had lunch and Chris explained about the huge positive steps the country has made in making it safe for tourists and bird watchers... The food was good too. We were back on the road now moving up higher to another town to meet our open aired land cruiser, Noah Stryker was already in the back with our guide Jose. We soon got to know that Noah was a fun guy with a good sense of humour and of course plenty to tell about his first 96 days of his world record big year attempt! To think that we were going to be part of it was pretty exciting. A few hours later after some road stop birding we arrived at montezuma lodge where we were met with good food a drop of whiskey and 12 species of Hummingbirds of which 11 were new to me! White necked Jacobin I had seen before but the Violet tailed Sylpth, Velvet-Purple Coronet, Green crowned Brilliant, Steely vented Hummingbird, White tailed Hillstar, Rufous tailed Hummingbird, Purple bibbed Whitetip, Black throated Mango, Andean Emerald and the Empress Brilliant wernt! How about that for starters? Rain threatened as the thunder clapped and we retired ready for a very early start and a long 12k drive all up hill along the bumpiest track imaginable.
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Well the thunder clapping turned into monsoon rain as we drove up the 12km track even with the sides down myself and Noah got drenched! Halfway up Chris jumped out of the cab and pointed out in the gloom a Yellow bellied Antpitta.... It could have been a wader as the track was flowing as if a small river. Great bird to lift the spirits. As we reached the top the rain became drizzle and would eventually petter out to a fine day at 11am. The birding got better as we picked up a great endemic Chestnut bellied Flowerpiecer... Well a few. The recently discovered Munchique wood wren showed really well in a number of locations and add a lovely Purplish mantled Tanager and a pair of SHOWY Narina Tapaculos... This was easier than I thought it was going to be. As the sun came out so did the Gold Ringed Tanagers... Awesome birds, Orange breasted Fruiteater, Golden winged Manakin on a nest and highland Motmot all added to the collection of birds. We didn't have it all our way as we dipped on all the Owls later in the evening. Finish off with a beer and a good chat we retired ready for some lower elevation birding tomorrow.
A fine start weather wise and soon picked up a White throated Quail Dove on the track and after a little perseverance Jose called in a Black Solitaire. It has been a trip of nest finding as we found an Empress Brilliant on her nest, while Fernando found a Slate throated Redstart roadside nest with 2 eggs. Yellow vented Woodpecker was a fine looking bird as is the Chestnut breasted Chlorophonia ( google it as its stunning ). We had a little raptor fest as in quick succession we had Swallow tailed Kite, Barred Hawk and Semi Collared Hawk. It was good to see Noah getting the odd trip bird as he beamed when Fernando found an Olivacious Piha... Of course if it's a lifer for Noah it's a lifer for me! Golden, Black and Gold, Glistening Green, Rufous throated tanagers plus a small flock of Crested any tanagers, this is fab birding, we were tired and decided to try for the blackish rail rather than go owling.... We got it.
Day 5 and we say goodbye to the lodge at Montezuma, even while we load up the truck with cases the birds keep coming, 11 species of Hummingbird, scrub, Silver throated, Lemon Rumped and Palm Tanagers. Yellow bellied and Gray Seedeaters and a small flock of Chapmans Swifts whent through while Chestnut Collared Swifts hawked over the pond by the Hummer feeders. We were heading for Rio Blanco in the central Andes but hit plenty of road works, sometimes roadworks work for you as we birded the roadside and picked up close views of a Hook billed Kite as it perched close to the road. A stop en route near Perriera for the best Coconut icecream ever and some water birds at a small lake where we picked up Pied Billed and Least Grebe as well as a Ruddy Seedeater. We arrived at Rio Blanco lodge in time for lunch and views of Long Tailed Sylph, Buff Tailed Coronet, Specled Hummingbird and Touramiline Sunangels ...... Nice!
Albeiro the guide took us up the track to do some afternoon birding where we saw 2 Plushcap, Andean Guan, Rufous crowned Tody-flycatcher, Grey browsed Brush-finch and loads of the impressive (and huge) Great Thrushes. Unfortunately another thunder storm broke out this time with impressive forked lightning and can you believe hailstone. We took shelter at a cafe for coffee and rode out the storm. After dinner we Owled and picked up Band Winged Nightjar and had close and prolonged views of Rufous Banded Owl.... For good measure a Crab Eating fox stayed around the garden for an hour after dark. Tomorrow we go feeding Antpittas
Day 6 and another early start as Albeiro, Jose, Jeff, Noah and myself go in search of five Antpittas. First we watch Buff Winged Coronets, Collared Incas and Long TailedSylph while on the banana feeders 3 Blue winged mountain Tanagers fed with a Slaty Brush finch.... Awesome birds so close. As we climbed the track up the mountain we saw our first mountain wren and Flamulated Treerunner as well as 3 Hemusphingous species. Then the day went crazy. Albeiro is famous for teasing out of the darkest scrub the Antpittas. Today a Chestnut Crowned didn't need any encouragement as it followed us up the hill and picks up a mate along the way and met us at the feeder... I said it was crazy. We were Interupted from the feeding Fby a monster mixed flock of streaked Xenops, Black crested warblers, Cinnamon Flycatchers, Montane Woodcreepers, Grey browed brush finch, Gray headed Bush tanagers, Golden faced tyranulets, Slate throated white starts, White naped brush finch, Pale edged flycatchers amongst others... Phew! It was hard to keep up. Anyway back to the feeder and we didn't pick up anymore Antpittas, so we moved up hill to a stakeout and tried again. Not too long to wait for a Brown banded Antpitta, not as showy but it gave some good views and images. We hadn't done with the skulkers as we nailed a few Tapaculos... Spillmans and Blackish, really pleased with these two and with more than acceptae views too. My first Trogan of the trip with a pair of Masked showing down to a few meters. Another stakeout got us close to the tiny Slate headed Antpitta. Finally while 4 of us were watching a female Powerful Woodpecker, Albeiro shouted us down the track where he had enticed out a stunner... Chestnut naped Antpitta. Possibly the bird of the day! We tried hard for the Bicolored Antpitta and although it sang very close to us we never saw it. The day was fantastic, i picked up 76 species and had pretty good views of all of them, who would thought that when watching Tapaculos and Antpittas?
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Day 6 ...

...i picked up 76 species and had pretty good views of all of them, who would thought that when watching Tapaculos and Antpittas?

Not I, that's for sure! Rio Blanco sounds like a fantastic place!

But then, there's no birding like Andean birding, in my experience, nothing to match it in the world...
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