The Next Birding Paradise
Fam Trip II Report
May 23 - June 4, 2009
by Gina Nichol
Thanks to the government of Colombia Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, Sunrise Birding and Birdseekers had another opportunity to explore the birding possibilities in Colombia. With the help of ProExport, we we embarked on a whirlwind tour of several important birding locations in the western, central, and eastern Andes as well as the Santa Marta area in the north. Below is a mini-report for this abbreviated trip. A quick read should convince serious birders that they must bird Colombia! We look forward to offering tours to this birding paradise! More information coming this summer!
A life experience: Pictured are two of 75 endangered
Sunday, 24-May-09: Bogotá, Chingaza to Magdalena Valley
Other birds recorded in Chingaza area (for complete list see the Trip List): Pale-naped Brush Finch, Black-crested Warbler, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Black Flowerpiercer, Slaty-Brush Finch, Black-chested Mountain Tanager, Black-headed Hemispingus, Glowing Puffleg, Paramo Seedeater, Rufous Wren
Other birds recorded near overlook at Magdalena Valley (for complete list see the Trip List): Blue-tailed Emerald, Beautiful Woodpecker, Spectacled Parrotlet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Thick-billed Euphonia, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Blue-necked Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Black-billed Thrush
Monday, 25-May-09: Victoria
Other birds recorded around Victoria (for complete list see the Trip List): Saffron Finch, Collared Aracari, Long-tailed Tyrant, Thick-billed Seedeater, Crimson-backed Tanager, Yellow-backed Tanager, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Streaked Saltator, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Golden-fronted Tyrannulet, Buff-throated Saltator, Colombian Chachalaca, Gray Seedeater, Beautiful Woodpecker, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Bar-crested Antshrike, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, White-fringed Antwren, Smooth-billed Ani, Greater Ani, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Gray-headed Tanager, White-bearded Manakin, Thick-billed Euphonia, Rusty-bellied Seedeater, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Other birds recorded at Otun Quimbaya (for complete list see the Trip List): Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Andean Siskin, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Bronzy Inca, Scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant, Highland Motmot, Montane Foliage Gleaner, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Inca Jay, Golden Tanager, Metallic Green Tanager, Russet-crowned Warbler, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper, Strong-billed Woodcreeper
After lunch, we headed across Cauca Valley toward the Western Andes catching several Bare-faced Ibis along the road. In the afternoon we reached the coffee growing region and birded along the road leading to El Cairo. Birds seen along the road included Bronze-winged Parrot, Golden-crowned Warbler, Black-throated Mango, White-winged Becard, and Short-tailed Hawk.
Other birds recorded in the coffee region, western Andes (for complete list see the Trip List):
Wednesday, 27-May-09: Western Andes to Choco region
Other birds recorded along Galapagos Road, western Andes (for complete list see the Trip List): Tricolored Brush Finch, Dusky Bush-Tanager, Narino Tapaculo, Tawny-bellied Hermit, Blue-capped Tanager, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Glistening Green Tanager, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Green-and-Black Fruiteater, Purple-throated Woodstar, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Uniform Treehunter, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Violet-tailed Sylph, Empress Brilliant, Greenish Puffleg, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Uniform Antshrike, Black Solitaire, Rufous-throated Tanager, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Three-striped Warbler, Red-headed Barbet, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Ornate Flycatcher, Rufous-bellied Tanager, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Golden-winged Manakin, Green-fronted Lancebill, White-tailed Hillstar
Other birds recorded along Galapagos Road, western Andes (for complete list see the Trip List): Orange-bellied Euphonia, Spotted Barbtail, White-capped Dipper, Yellow-throated Brush Finch, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Russet-crowned Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Uniform Treehunter, Streaked Saltator, Bay-headed Tanager, Metallic green Tanager, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Grass Green Tanager, Black-winged Saltator, Scrub Tanager, Yellow-throated Brush Finch
After lunch, we continued up the hill and panic ensued when a pair of Tanager Finch crossed quickly in front of us and then disappeared. Our first Yellow-eared Parrots were seen flying in the distance at the top of the hill. We traversed a farm field to see an active nest box of this rare bird on the side of a tall Wax Palm. A group of three birds were tending the box (a pair and a “helper”) and we watched them perched and then flying from palm to palm marveling at excellent flight views. As we began to head back to the road, more and more small flocks of parrots were evident. We stopped on a hillside at eye level with the top of a palm and our local guide informed us that sometimes the birds come to roost in that tree. Soon the flocks began to arrive at the palm and we watched in awe as at least 75 Yellow-eared Parrots arrived at the tree to roost for the night! It was nothing short of incredible to see these birds from 50 yards away at eye level! We spent more than an hour here until it was too dark to see anything more. It was a life experience for all of us, even our guide who had never witnessed such a spectacle in his eight years of working on conservation projects with these birds!
Other birds recorded at Alto de Ventanas (for complete list see the Trip List): Speckled Hummingbird, Grass Green Tanager, Golden-headed Quetzal, Mountain Elaenia, Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Black-collared Jay, Golden-fronted Whitestart, Black-capped Tyrannulet, Barred Becard, Smoke-colored Pewee, Streak-throated Bush Tyrant, Gray-hooded Bush Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager, Black-capped Hemispingus, Blackish Tapaculo, Emerald Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Lacrimose Mountain Tanager, Black-billed Peppershrike, Rufous-capped Warbler, Tourmaline Sunangel, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Slaty Brush Finch, Golden-crowned Tanager, Pale-browed Spinetail, Spillman’s Tapaculo, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet
Saturday, 30-May-09: Birding around Jardin, Transfer to Medellin for departure to Santa Marta
Other birds recorded around Jardin (for complete list see Trip List):
We worked our way up the hill stopping in various areas and adding Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, a nice look at Golden-winged Sparrow, Yellow-margined Flycatcher, Buff-throated Saltator, Lesser Greenlet, Pale-naped Pygmy Tyrant, Blue-crowned Motmot, Rufous-capped Warbler, Tropical Pewee, and Red-crowned Woodpecker. Another stop yielded our first Yellow-legged Thrush, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Broad-winged Hawk, Plumbeous Kite, Rufous-breasted Wren, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Large-billed Seedfinch, and a pair of White-lined Tanagers. We picked up the endemic Santa Marta Tapaculo and a Black-headed Tanager just before stopping for a cold drink at a roadside rest with Santa Marta Brush Finch coming to the bird feeders!
We reached El Dorado Lodge and immediately checked out the gardens and feeders around the lodge. Amazingly, the lodge feeders are visited by Blue-naped Chlorophonia and cameras clicked away at these striking birds. Santa Marta Brush Finch visited the feeders as well and became a common bird for the rest of our time here. Some Keel-billed Toucans were flying around but the feeders kept drawing our attention with visits from Andean Emerald, Green-crowned Woodnymph, Tyrian Metaltail, Green Violetear, Black-capped Tanager, and Black-headed Tanager. When the fog lifted we had good views of the Crested Oropendolas nesting in a nearby Cecropia.
After lunch, we worked our way on foot further up the hill toward San Lorenzo. Here we ticked our first White-lored Warblers and got good views of White-tipped Quetzal and varying views of the Santa Marta subspecies of Emerald Toucanet. A Golden-breasted Fruiteater was less than cooperative but while we chased it, we picked up Montane Woodcreeper, Lineated Foliage gleaner, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Blue-capped Tanager, Stripe-headed Brush Finch, and Masked Trogon. During dinner, we enjoyed the antics of a Crab-eating Fox coming to scavenge the scraps under the lodge bird feeders.
Other birds recorded above San Lorenzo (for complete list see Trip List): Blue-capped Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, Tyrian Metaltail, Streak-headed Spinetail, White-throated Tyrannulet, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Black-throated Tody Tyrant, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Yellow-browed Chat Tyrant, Black-capped Tyrannulet, Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush
We moved on to a wetland area near SFF Los Flamencos which held American Flamingo, Reddish Egret, Great Egret, and Snowy Egret. A single Willet flew by and a Caspian Tern was roosting on an exposed sandbar. Just down the road we walked into another scrubby area and immediately found a Russet-throated Puffbird perched near the track. We had more good views of White-whiskered Spinetail as well as Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, and a quick fly over Yellow Oriole. We then drove through the village of Camarones as we stopped the vehicle; a Dwarf Cuckoo was spotted on top of a bush. For the next few minutes, we repositioned for views of this cracking bird in the morning light. We then walked into the scrub to an area which held Bicolored Wren, Buff-breasted Wren, and offered more looks at Glaucous Tanager, Grayish Saltator, and Orinocan Saltator. A wet area nearby held Wattled Jacana and Pied Water Tyrant.
The next area was a track between an air strip and banana plantation outside Camarones. Here we studied the hummingbirds that were flitting around and picked up both Sapphire-bellied and Sapphire-throated Hummingbird. Just above us was a Northern Scrub Flycatcher nest with chicks and there were Gray-breasted Martins flying around. A little searching yielded a nice Chestnut Piculet. Both adult and juvenile Savannah Hawks surveyed the open areas around the airstrip and a Pearl Kite inspected the grasslands from the far end of the runway. As we drove further west, we checked the palm trees found some Blue-crowned Parakeets. While watching those, we added Fork-tailed Flycatcher to our trip list. A stop for lunch yielded Orange-chinned Parakeets behind the restaurant and after lunch we headed into the foothills of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta where it was a little cooler. A roadside stop yielded Bicolored Wren, Cinereous Becard, and Red-crowned Woodpecker.
Later in the afternoon, we birded Tayrona National Park. Here we added Scrub Greenlet, got better looks at Yellow Oriole and had another flock of Brown-throated Parakeets fly over. Two Rufous-tailed Jacamars were seen just over the read and three very vocal Rufous-browed Peppershrikes seemed unfazed by our presence. A Mouse-colored Tyrannulet was seen and a Yellow-breasted Flycatcher showed briefly but the start of the afternoon was a pair of Black-backed Antshrike that showed very well right by the road. As the sun was setting we made our way back to Santa Marta for our flight out adding our two last species - Ringed Kingfisher and Clay-colored Thrush.
Colombia is truly the next birding paradise. With more species than any other country in the world, Colombia has incredible birding prospects. Sunrise Birding, LLC has forged relationships with the country's top guides and will be offering both group tours and private, customized tours to this bird-filled country. Watch this space!
Special thanks goes to Juliana Gomez and Carlos Uchima of ProExport and the Colombian Government Trade Bureau for making these scouting trips possible!
For more information, contact Gina Nichol at 203.453.6724 or [email protected]