Thursday, September 10, 2009
Colombia Day 2. August 24 Things aren’t always as you hope.
We left the hotel in Jardin well before dawn, as we had to arrive at our first birding spot before sunrise. Edwin drove the narrow muddy roads with great finesse. (We would appreciate this skill greatly later in the trip!) Martin was in the front seat and spotted a bird flying up from the road, a Band-winged Nightjar. Unfortunately I was dozing so I missed it. Obviously I started paying attention and a few minutes later was thrilled to see a Lyre-tailed Nightjar fly straight up. I had missed this bird in Ecuador and really wanted to see one.
Our first goal bird of the day was Yellow-eared Parrot, a bird with a very restricted range. They roost at night in the farmland we were heading for. Pablo had seen them along the road only five days before. We parked the car and started scanning the palm trees. Nothing. They had used a different site. Then we heard Barred Parakeet and saw a bird fly over. Then a louder parrot sound, and there they were! A small group flew over, but very high above us. Then another group flew by, still very high. We ended up seeing about 16 birds, but with little detail and no opportunity to photograph them. It was a bit of a let down, but we were glad to have seen them at all.
We started back to the hotel to grab a hot shower and pick up our gear. We birded several spots and got a bird that made up for the poor parrot sightings. We stopped at an open spot with a good view of surrounding hills. Chestnut-crested Cotingas were known to be in this area. This is a bird we had tried very hard for in Ecuador without success. These birds perch in the tops of trees, so we started scanning. At best I hoped for a distant view. I finished one hill and turned to do another. I spotted a bird in the top of a bare tree directly behind us. There it was! A juvenile was showing extremely well and then swa an adult. We got amazing views and I got some poor photos. Martin’s are much better. http://www.martinreid.com/Misc%20website/CO09CrestedCotingas.html
We got back in the car and continued down hill. A low-slung black cat with a very long tail darted in front of the car. It took a couple of seconds before it registered, a Jagarundi!!! My life list of wild cats was particularly short: 1. Bobcat. I had ached to see one of the tropical cats, so this sighting made my day! I was sad though that Dan had missed it. It always knocks the thrill down a notch when someone misses something good. We arrived at the hotel and ran in to take a hot shower, since we wouldn’t have another chance for a couple of days. To say the shower was hot was a total understatement. For once there was no cold water!
We drove into Jardin, grabbed a snack and a couple of photos of the town square and were off to our next destination, Rio Blanco Reserve. Rio Blanco is situated in the hills above the city of Manizales. It was a long drive. We arrived at about 4:30 PM. The ranger at Rio Blanco has learned the fine art of antpitta feeding, developed by Angel Paz in Ecuador. (I wrote about Angel in my trip reports from my first trip to Ecuador) Pablo had called the ranger and asked him to hold off the feeding until we arrived.
Hummingbird feeders line the porch of the building and they were packed. It was tough tearing myself away! We walked a short wooded trail and the ranger put some large cut up earthworms in a bowl and whistled. Almost immediately a Brown-banded Antpitta hopped in. She looked a little peeved that her dinner was late. Shortly after she arrived a second bird showed up, a Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. Pablo mentioned that the Chestnut-crowned was a bit of a bully. The Brown-banded scooted off and he came in. We got amazing looks and decent photos of both, which is normally very difficult with antpittas.
We decided to try for a third antpitta, a Bicolored, which was often found further up the hill. We drove up and spent the remaining light playing a tape for it. It did respond, but we only got a very brief look. Several varieties of tapaculos were calling nearby, including my nemesis, Ocellated Tapaculo. Unfortunately they did what tapaculos do so well, they stayed hidden. As we were getting ready to leave I saw something that to me really captured the dichotomy of South America. A farm worker was riding down the hill on a mule taking on a cell phone. It just made me smile!
We had an excellent dinner at the reserve building. It’s not a lodge by any standards. There are two rooms with two triple sets of bunk beds, no heat and a communal bathroom that you have to go outside to get to. Martin swears there is hot water, but I don’t think there was and I was chilled and didn’t want to find out. I was really exhausted and chose to go to bed. Martin, Dan and Pablo went out with a tape and had five White-throated Screech-owls calling and saw one very well. They came back to get me and of course all five were silent as the dead. Oh well. I was still happy with our day.
Here is our list:
Ruddy Ground Dove
White-throated Screech Owl
Southern Rough-winged Swallow