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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Conference Birding - Scratching the surface in Bogota 19-21 October 2019 (1 Viewer)


Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
And finally . . .

Another quick change for my final presentation and out again had me once again heading for the hills – this time with Paramo expert Diana Romero (also organised art very short notice by the excellent Bogota Birding) to maximize the final hours of daylight before beginning the 25-hour trip home. Hoping for a different range of species we headed east to the Chingaza Nature reserve about two hours out of Bogota. We crossed the hills that mark the eastern edge of the city and after passing a spooky abandoned cement works began climbing into the lush green hills. We stopped just once for an overdue lifer - a splendid Eastern Meadowlark perching on a helpfully on a fencepost, which I’ve somehow contrived not to have seen despite several visits to the States. The aim was to get up to the edge of the reserve and then bird the road back down until the light gave out. We got out of the car and into a cloud. The forest on both sides of us was of stunted trees and shrubs covered in moss and epiphytes while the ground was just a gigantic mossy sponge. It’s hardly surprising that this area serves as the water catchment for the whole of Bogota.

The birds took a while to appear, but there was plenty of quality when they did. The first to loom out of the mist was a group of chunky yellow birds with a broad yellow crown across a deep black head that faded to white on the nape – Pale-naped Brushfinch. This was followed by a couple of hummingbirds that declined to hang about long enough to be identified, and then by a jet black bird with the distinctive upturned lower mandible – Glossy Flowerpiercer. Also responding well to pishing, a White-fronted Tyrannulet was pleasingly easy to identify.

We birded our way down the road, picking out Band-tailed Pigeons on a ridge, numerous Great Thrushes, the handsomely chestnut-crowned Slaty Brushfinch and a bonus Band-winged Nightjar which flushed and landed right by the roadside before eventually disappearing into the forest. We heard but did not see Rufous Antpitta and Silvery-throated Spinetail, but I was delighted to get several views of a Ash-coloured Tapaculo (need to check name) skulking among the mossy-covered branches deep in a dingy culvert. The impression was mostly of a dark plumbeous bird with a stubby cocked tail.

We picked up four Hummingbirds – the larger Sparkling and Lesser Violetears and the tiny Glowing Puffleg, Coppery –bellied Puffleg and White-bellied Woodstar, but the real glory of the day belonged to two fabulous tanagers, both of which appeared in dazzling groups: Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager – velvet-black, with a glorious scarlet belly and triangular ear patch and an iridescent flash of blue on the shoulder - and the blue-backed, yellow-bellied Hooded Mountain Tanager. As the light faded the last birds of the day were a House Wren in a farmhouse hedge and a Red-crested Cotinga that sat up nicely and only in the last of the light showed the white undertail and the very faintest hint of red in the crown.

This was a fine finish to a hectic trip out of which I felt that I had sucked every last drop of birding potential – I saw 115 species in two and a half days of birding, while totally nailing my presentations – top conference birding!

All photos were taken by Diana, and are uploaded with her kind permission.



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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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