Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Colombia Day 13, Dec. 19. Return to Reality

The last day of a birding trip is always difficult. I always feel a little sad. On this trip I felt more than a little sad. We had a flight from Barranquilla to Bogota at 1PM. The drive from Santa Marta was going to be the last opportunity to bird. Luckily this is a really good road for that. We got up at 500AM and drug all of our stuff downstairs at the hotel. Our first target bird, Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, was best gotten at dawn. We sat and waited for Jaime, our driver. He was late. Pablo called him, and he said he would be right there. We suspected that he had overslept. (I was a little bit sympathetic. It had been an exhausting trip) He made good on the promise and showed up shortly after. We jumped in the car and headed east, towards the long thin barrier islands between Santa Marta and Baranquilla.

The sun was rising and we were driving out of Santa Marta. We were all scanning the scrubby trees along the road, looking for the silhouette of a chachalaca. We were a little worried that it might be too late, when we saw a flock right next to the highway. We jumped out the car, which was a little un-nerving, as the traffic was fast and heavy. The birds were a bit shy, but we got very good looks. There were more birds to try for, so we took off. I could almost feel time ticking by. We turned onto the highway that goes to Baranquilla. The landscape quickly changed from desert scrub to mangroves and salt flats. The Caribbean was on one side of the road and on the other a huge estuary formed by the delta of the Magdelena River. We padded our trip list with shorebirds and egrets and herons.

We stopped at a truck stop for a quick breakfast. There was an open porch with a balcony overlooking a little barn yard with peacocks. Hanging on the wall was a small cage holding a Tropical Mockingbird. I asked Pablo if that was legal and he said no, but that the law isn't enforced. There was also a very large walk in cage with an Orange-winged Amazon. These were not exactly the birds we were looking for, but it ended up that it was a good stop. I spotted a Pied-water Tyrant in a tree right next to the balcony. He posed for a couple of photos. Then another black and white bird flew in, a gorgeous Fork-tailed Flycatcher. Its a bird I have seen many times, even a couple of times in Texas, but it was still nice to see him.

We left and drove to Isla Salamanca National Park to look for the last few birds. One of our main targets appeared right next to the road, a male Bicolored Conebill. The gate to the park was closed, so Pablo flagged down a worker behind the wall. There is a charge for admission, but Pablo explained that we had a very short time. They were nice enough to let us bird for about an hour without paying the admission. Again, Martin and I were struck by the graciousness of the Colombians that we encountered. We walked in and I heard a call that I thought I recognized, a Greater Ani. I said something to Martin, but he thought it was something else, so we moved on. We were looking for flowering trees, where Sapphire-throated and Sapphire-bellied Hummingbirds feed. Unfortunately we never found them. We did have a Panama Flycatcher, which was new for me. We needed to leave to make our flight, so we started back to the car. Pablo was walking ahead of us and called out "Greater Ani!" It was exactly where I had heard the call. Hmmm. I was very happy to get this, as it was my last Ani. Yeah, I know, there are only three of them, but its still nice to complete a group.

We drove into Baranquilla, which I found less than impressive. This area has more poverty than we had seen anywhere else in Colombia. The condition of the animals was much worse than other places, which I think is telling. There are many shanties. A large bridge crosses the Magdelana, a huge river. There is heavy industry all around this area. The sky line is packed with large buildings. We didn't get into this area, so I can't really comment on the downtown area. We arrived at the airport, which was a little chaotic. Pablo was returning to Medallin, where he lives and we were going to Bogota, where our flight home would depart from the following day. As we sat waiting for our flights we talked a bit about doing a trip to the Magdelena Valley sometime in the future. We said our goodbyes and hopefully "see you later"s and boarded our flight. We arrived in Bogota, where we returned to our previous hotel, Casona del Patio. We ate pizza in bed and reveled over our long trip list, 385 species. We were very successful, particularly with endemics. Obviously we were very happy. I am posting two lists, first the day list, then our trip list.

I apologize for how many postings I have done on this trip, but it was a long trip! If you have read these I imagine you think the posts went on longer than the trip! I hope you have enjoyed reading them. My last word is GO SOMEPLACE! Its easier than you think and it will change your life forever.

Pictures from the day:

Day List:
1 Neotropic Cormorant
2 Brown Pelican
3 Magnificent Frigatebird
4 Cocoi Heron
5 Cattle Egret
6 Great Egret
7 Reddish Egret
8 Tricolored Heron
9 Little Blue Heron
10 Snowy Egret
11 Striated Heron
12 Green Heron
13 Black-crowned Night-Heron
14 Boat-billed Heron
15 Turkey Vulture
16 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
17 Black Vulture
18 Blue-winged Teal
19 Roadside Hawk
20 Crested Caracara
21 Yellow-headed Caracara
22 American Kestrel
23 Peregrine Falcon
24 Chestnut-winged Chachalaca
25 Rufous-necked Wood-Rail
26 Common Moorhen
27 Purple Gallinule
28 Wattled Jacana
29 Black-necked Stilt
30 Black-bellied Plover
31 Semipalmated Plover
32 Whimbrel
33 Solitary Sandpiper
34 Spotted Sandpiper
35 Willet

36 Sanderling
37 Western Sandpiper
38 Large-billed Tern
39 Royal Tern
40 Sandwich Tern
41 Bare-eyed Pigeon
42 Eared Dove
43 Common Ground-Dove
44 Ruddy Ground-Dove
45 Scaly Dove
46 Brown-throated Parakeet
47 Green-rumped Parrotlet
48 Orange-winged Amazon
49 Greater Ani
50 Groove-billed Ani
51 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
52 Ringed Kingfisher
53 Russet-throated Puffbird
54 Red-crowned Woodpecker
55 Yellow-chinned Spinetail
56 Bar-crested Antshrike
57 Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
58 Pied Water-Tyrant
59 Cattle Tyrant
60 Panama Flycatcher
61 Great Kiskadee
62 Social Flycatcher
63 Tropical Kingbird
64 Fork-tailed Flycatcher
65 Gray-breasted Martin
66 American Yellow Warbler
67 Prothonotary Warbler
68 Bicolored Conebill
69 Yellow Oriole
70 Baltimore Oriole

Trip List:
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Cattle Egret
3 Great Egret
4 Black Vulture
5 White-tailed Kite
6 Roadside Hawk
7 Broad-winged Hawk
8 American Kestrel
9 Common Moorhen
10 Band-tailed Pigeon
11 Eared Dove
12 White-tipped Dove
13 Spectacled Parrotlet
14 Squirrel Cuckoo
15 White-throated Screech-Owl
16 Green Hermit
17 Green Violet-ear
18 Blue-tailed Emerald
19 Short-tailed Emerald
20 Fork-tailed Woodnymph
21 Andean Emerald
22 Indigo-capped Hummingbird
23 Steely-vented Hummingbird
24 Booted Racquet-tail
25 White-bellied Woodstar
26 Red-headed Barbet
27 Olivaceous Piculet
28 Acorn Woodpecker
29 Red-crowned Woodpecker
30 Smoky-brown Woodpecker
31 Azara's Spinetail
32 Slaty Spinetail
33 Ash-browed Spinetail
34 Bar-crested Antshrike
35 Plain Antvireo
36 Blackish Tapaculo
37 Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet
38 Golden-faced Tyrannulet
39 Mouse-colored Tyrannulet
40 Mountain Elaenia
41 Common Tody-Flycatcher
42 Yellow-olive Flycatcher
43 Black Phoebe
44 Rusty-margined Flycatcher
45 Tropical Kingbird
46 Brown-bellied Swallow
47 House Wren
48 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren
49 Tropical Mockingbird
50 Swainson's Thrush
51 Great Thrush
52 Pale-breasted Thrush
53 Black-billed Thrush
54 Rufous-collared Sparrow
55 Saffron Finch
56 Yellow-bellied Seedeater
57 Yellow-faced Grassquit
58 Sooty Grassquit
59 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
60 Summer Tanager
61 Crimson-backed Tanager
62 Blue-grey Tanager
63 Palm Tanager
64 Fawn-breasted Tanager
65 Flame-faced Tanager
66 Bay-headed Tanager
67 Scrub Tanager
68 Blue-necked Tanager
69 Beryl-spangled Tanager
70 Blue-and-black Tanager
71 Black-capped Tanager
72 Green Honeycreeper
73 Rusty Flowerpiercer
74 Bananaquit
75 Tropical Parula
76 Black-and-white Warbler
77 Blackburnian Warbler
78 Canada Warbler
79 Slate-throated Redstart
80 Rufous-browed Peppershrike
81 Red-eyed Vireo
82 Brown-capped Vireo
83 Rufous-naped Greenlet
84 Andean Siskin
85 Lesser Goldfinch
86 Yellow-backed Oriole
87 Sooty-headed Tyrannulet
88 Smooth-billed Ani
89 Sparkling Violetear
90 Speckled Hummingbird
91 Black Inca
92 Tyrian Metaltail
93 Crimson-mantled Woodpecker
94 Silvery-throated Spinetail
95 Black-capped Tyrannulet
96 White-throated Tyrannulet
97 Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant
98 Short-billed Marsh-Wren
99 Plumbeous Sierra-Finch
100 Rufous-naped Brushfinch
101 Blue-capped Tanager
102 White-sided Flowerpiercer
103 Black Flowerpiercer
104 Tennessee Warbler
105 Eastern Meadowlark
106 Turkey Vulture
107 White-throated Hawk
108 Striped Cuckoo
109 Lazuline Sabrewing
110 Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird
111 Amethyst-throated Sunangel
112 Montane Woodcreeper
113 Rufous-rumped Tapaculo
114 Cinnamon Flycatcher
115 Smoke-colored Pewee
116 Bicolored Cactus-Wren
117 Green Jay
118 Pale-naped Brushfinch
119 Moustached Brushfinch
120 Common Bush-Tanager
121 Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager
122 Golden-fronted Whitestart
123 Colombian Mountain Grackle
124 Sora
125 Spot-flanked Gallinule
126 American Coot
127 White-tipped Swift
128 Blue-and-white Swallow
129 Barn Swallow
130 Apolinar's Marsh-Wren
131 Nicéforo's Wren
132 Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush
133 Streaked Saltator
134 Golden-rumped Euphonia
135 Yellow-hooded Blackbird
136 Apical Flycatcher
137 White-rumped Hawk
138 Flame-winged Conure
139 Short-tailed Swift
140 Black-throated Mango
141 Green-bellied Hummingbird
142 White-vented Plumeleteer
143 Bronzy Inca
144 Collared Inca
145 Long-tailed Sylph
146 Cundinamarca Antpitta
147 Chestnut-crowned Antpitta
148 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
149 Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant
150 Streak-necked Flycatcher
151 Olive-striped Flycatcher
152 Social Flycatcher
153 Sharpe's Wren
154 Andean Solitaire
155 Ochre-breasted Brushfinch
156 Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager
157 Silver-beaked Tanager
158 White-lored Euphonia
159 Saffron-crowned Tanager
160 Metallic-green Tanager
161 Purple Honeycreeper
162 Three-striped Warbler
163 Philadelphia Vireo
164 Russet-backed Oropendola
165 Great Blue Heron
166 Black-crowned Night-Heron
167 Andean Ruddy Duck
168 Speckled Teal
169 Blue-winged Teal
170 Bogotá Rail
171 Wilson's Snipe
172 Noble Snipe
173 Brown Pelican
174 Short-tailed Hawk
175 Scaly Dove
176 Brown-throated Parakeet
177 Blue-headed Parrot
178 Black-backed Antshrike
179 Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
180 Scrub Greenlet
181 Magnificent Frigatebird
182 Reddish Egret
183 Snowy Egret
184 White Ibis
185 Scarlet Ibis
186 Roseate Spoonbill
187 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
188 Caribbean Flamingo
189 Crested Caracara
190 Yellow-headed Caracara
191 Merlin
192 Limpkin
193 Wattled Jacana
194 Whimbrel
195 Lesser Yellowlegs
196 Solitary Sandpiper
197 Spotted Sandpiper
198 Willet
199 Laughing Gull
200 Royal Tern
201 Sandwich Tern
202 Bare-eyed Pigeon
203 Common Ground-Dove
204 Plain-breasted Ground-Dove
205 Ruddy Ground-Dove
206 Green-rumped Parrotlet
207 Lesser Nighthawk
208 Red-billed Emerald
209 Shining-green Hummingbird
210 Buffy Hummingbird
211 Green Kingfisher
212 Rufous-tailed Jacamar
213 Russet-throated Puffbird
214 Chestnut Piculet
215 Straight-billed Woodcreeper
216 Pale-legged Hornero
217 White-whiskered Spinetail
218 Black-crested Antshrike
219 Barred Antshrike
220 White-flanked Antwren
221 Slender-billed Inezia
222 Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant
223 Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant
224 Venezuelan Flycatcher
225 Brown-crested Flycatcher
226 Great Kiskadee
227 Gray Kingbird
228 Tropical Gnatcatcher
229 Gray Pileated-Finch
230 Vermilion Cardinal
231 Buff-throated Saltator
232 Orinocan Saltator
233 American Yellow Warbler
234 Blackpoll Warbler
235 Prothonotary Warbler
236 Yellow Oriole
237 Troupial
238 Baltimore Oriole
239 Great-tailed Grackle
240 Neotropic Cormorant
241 Savanna Hawk
242 Bat Falcon
243 Semipalmated Plover
244 Caspian Tern
245 Common Tern
246 Orange-chinned Parakeet
247 Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
248 White-collared Swift
249 Band-rumped Swift
250 White-fringed Antwren
251 Yellow-bellied Elaenia
252 Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
253 Ochre-lored Flatbill
254 Vermilion Flycatcher
255 Boat-billed Flycatcher
256 Striped Manakin
257 Southern Rough-winged Swallow
258 Rufous-breasted Wren
259 Black-chested Jay
260 Blue-black Grassquit
261 Gray Seedeater
262 Tocuyo Sparrow
263 Blue-black Grosbeak
264 Trinidad Euphonia
265 Red-legged Honeycreeper
266 Northern Parula
267 Yellow Warbler
268 Northern Waterthrush
269 Carib Grackle
270 Shiny Cowbird
271 Lesser Black-backed Gull
272 King Vulture
273 Band-tailed Guan
274 Black-fronted Woodquail
275 Lined Quail-Dove
276 Red-fronted Conure
277 Red-billed Parrot
278 Pale-bellied Hermit
279 Stripe-throated Hermit
280 Santa Marta Sabrewing
281 Coppery Emerald
282 Violet-crowned Woodnymph
283 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
284 Blossomcrown
285 White-tailed Starfrontlet
286 Scaled Piculet
287 Plain-brown Woodcreeper
288 Brown-rumped Tapaculo
289 Slaty-capped Flycatcher
290 Tropical Pewee
291 Bright-rumped Attila
292 Dusky-capped Flycatcher
293 Cinnamon Becard
294 White-bearded Manakin
295 Golden-breasted Fruiteater
296 Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush
297 Black-hooded Thrush
298 Thick-billed Seed-Finch
299 Golden-winged Sparrow
300 Black-striped Sparrow
301 Santa Marta Brushfinch
302 Rosy Thrush-Tanager
303 Blue-naped Chlorophonia
304 American Redstart
305 Rufous-capped Warbler
306 Crested Oropendola
307 Black-and-chestnut Eagle
308 Santa Marta Parakeet
309 Scaly-naped Amazon
310 Colombian Woodstar
311 White-tipped Quetzal
312 Masked Trogon
313 Keel-billed Toucan
314 Golden-olive Woodpecker
315 Strong-billed Woodcreeper
316 Streak-headed Woodcreeper
317 Rusty-headed Spinetail
318 Montane Foliage-gleaner
319 Santa Marta Antpitta
320 Black-throated Tody-Tyrant
321 Golden-crowned Flycatcher
322 Stripe-headed Brushfinch
323 Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager
324 Yellow-crowned Whitestart
325 Gray-throated Warbler
326 White-lored Warbler
327 White-tailed Nightjar
328 Mountain Velvetbreast
329 Black-backed Thornbill
330 Streak-capped Spinetail
331 Rufous Antpitta
332 Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant
333 Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant
334 Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant
335 Paramo Seedeater
336 Southern Yellow Grosbeak
337 Santa Marta Warbler
338 Tiny Hawk
339 Bicolored Hawk
340 Barred Forest-Falcon
341 Sooty-capped Hermit
342 Lineated Woodpecker
343 Ruddy Foliage-gleaner
344 Plain Xenops
345 Rusty-breasted Antpitta
346 Santa Marta Tapaculo
347 Olive-sided Flycatcher
348 Thick-billed Euphonia
349 Black-headed Tanager
350 Golden-fronted Greenlet
351 Emerald Toucanet
352 Groove-billed Toucanet
353 Hook-billed Kite
354 Gray Hawk
355 Rufous Motmot
356 Masked Tityra
357 Rufous-and-white Wren
358 Yellow-legged Thrush
359 Swallow Tanager
360 Cocoi Heron
361 Tricolored Heron
362 Little Blue Heron
363 Striated Heron
364 Green Heron
365 Boat-billed Heron
366 Peregrine Falcon
367 Chestnut-winged Chachalaca
368 Rufous-necked Wood-Rail
369 Purple Gallinule
370 Black-necked Stilt
371 Black-bellied Plover
372 Sanderling
373 Western Sandpiper
374 Large-billed Tern
375 Orange-winged Amazon
376 Greater Ani
377 Groove-billed Ani
378 Ringed Kingfisher
379 Yellow-chinned Spinetail
380 Pied Water-Tyrant
381 Cattle Tyrant
382 Panama Flycatcher
383 Fork-tailed Flycatcher
384 Gray-breasted Martin
385 Bicolored Conebill

Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio, Tx

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Colombia Day 12, Dec. 18. Beginning the Trip Home

We had one more morning at El Dorado before heading to Santa Marta for our last night in the Caribbean area. It was hard to think of leaving. Usually on these trips I am ready to go home, especially after a two week trip. This time I think I would have preferred making El Dorado home and going to San Antonio to visit. I realized I was really going to miss the birds, the view, the food, everything. The night before we had heard some very interesting news. Montero, the ranger that lived at the lodge, had started feeding the Santa Marta Antpittas worms! This is something that is going on all over the tropics. Angel Paz in Ecuador was the one who started this. Angel has three species of antpittas that come in for worms on a daily basis. (We visited Angel on my first visit to Ecuador.) This was really exciting! We would be able to see this darn Santa Marta Antpitta after all! Montero said to meet him at 7:00AM. We hung around anxiously waiting. Martin and I worried that he had snuck off without us. Finally Montero came out and we walked down the trail to where he puts the worms. He instructed us to wait to the side, so the antpitta would come in. He said she would come down between 7AM and 730AM. He put out the worms, whistled the "Bob-white" like call of the antpitta and went off to do his work. We waited quietly. And we waited. After about 20 minutes Pablo played the call on his iPod. We waited some more. After about 45 minutes we decided she wasn't coming in any time soon. It was extremely disappointing.

We decided to repeat what we had done the day before, going down to the tiende and then back up to the research station, though spending more abbreviated times at each place. The tiende was fairly active. We had a number of hummingbirds, including a nice female Blossomcrown. Santa Marta Woodstar made a good showing. We had brilliant looks at a Masked Trogan. There were several White-lored Warblers. I saw something I had never seen before, a Tennessee Warbler feeding on bananas. The Blue-naped Chlorophonias and Bay-headed Tanagers joined him. While savoring a small cup of the sweet coffee that the tiende served, we heard a familar call, "Quick three beers!" and spotted an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Unfortunately we had to cut our time there short. We hustled up to research station, hoping for one more chance for the antpitta. Pablo said there was a trail where the antpittas were seen regularly, running back and forth across the trail. I was a little worried about the steepness, as my ankle was bothering me quite a bit, but I decided to try. We worked our way down. It was a repeat of our other visits. The antpitta came in close, called like crazy and then moved off with us not seeing a feather. I have absolutely nothing good to say about the Santa Marta Antpitta!

We returned to the lodge for lunch and then packed to head for Santa Marta. We birded along the road, making one last stop at the tiende. Jaime found us a Lined Quail Dove walking along the raod. Moving down hill we came across different species as we lost altitude. A Hook-billed Kite soared overhead. We spotted a Gray Hawk sitting in a dead tree. A Boat-billed Flycatcher was a nice addition to our trip list. We decided to return to the covered bridge at Pozo Azul, near Minca, in hopes of seeing the Santa Marta Saber-wing again. We didn't repeat on that, but we did see a couple of Swallow Tanagers, a favorite bird of mine and another Cinnamon Becard. We heard Rosy-thrush Tanager again, but still didn't see it. We did get another look at Golden-winged Sparrow. I found the only Motmot of the trip, a Blue-crowned shortly before dark. We ended up in Santa Marta after dark. We had a great dinner (Langoastinos for me!) We planned for our last few hours of birding in the morning on the road from Santa Marta to Baranquillo.
Pictures from the day:
Day list:
1 Turkey Vulture
2 Black Vulture
3 Hook-billed Kite
4 Gray Hawk
5 Broad-winged Hawk
6 Band-tailed Guan
7 Black-fronted Woodquail
8 Band-tailed Pigeon
9 Lined Quail-Dove
10 Red-fronted Conure
11 Red-billed Parrot
12 Scaly-naped Amazon
13 Green Violet-ear
14 Sparkling Violetear
15 Violet-crowned Woodnymph
16 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
17 Blossomcrown
18 White-tailed Starfrontlet
19 Tyrian Metaltail
20 Santa Marta Woodstar
21 White-tipped Quetzal
22 Blue-crowned Motmot
23 Rufous-tailed Jacamar
24 Emerald Toucanet
25 Red-crowned Woodpecker
26 Golden-olive Woodpecker
27 Rusty-headed Spinetail
28 Montane Foliage-gleaner
29 Santa Marta Antpitta
30 Santa Marta Tapaculo
31 Brown-rumped Tapaculo
32 Black-throated Tody-Tyrant
33 Cinnamon Flycatcher
34 Olive-sided Flycatcher
35 Boat-billed Flycatcher
36 Cinnamon Becard
37 Masked Tityra
38 Golden-breasted Fruiteater
39 Rufous-and-white Wren
40 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren
41 Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush
42 Yellow-legged Thrush
43 Black-hooded Thrush
44 Pale-breasted Thrush
45 Black-chested Jay
46 Rufous-collared Sparrow
47 Thick-billed Seed-Finch
48 Golden-winged Sparrow
49 Buff-throated Saltator
50 Rosy Thrush-Tanager
51 Blue-grey Tanager
52 Blue-naped Chlorophonia
53 Bay-headed Tanager
54 Rusty Flowerpiercer
55 White-sided Flowerpiercer
56 Swallow Tanager
57 Tennessee Warbler
58 Blackburnian Warbler
59 American Redstart
60 Slate-throated Redstart
61 Yellow-crowned Whitestart
62 White-lored Warbler
63 Rufous-capped Warbler
64 Brown-capped Vireo
65 Crested Oropendola
66 Russet-backed Oropendola
Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio, Tx

Monday, January 11, 2010

Colombia Day 11, December 17. Lets go down! No lets go up!

This was to be our last full day at El Dorado and we were thinking about tying up some loose ends. Martin was still feeling the sting of not seeing the Blossomcrown, so we decided to go back down hill to the tiende (store) where I had seen in on the way up. We left just before dawn and had not gotten far at all from the lodge when Jaime, our driver spotted something on the road. We saw a South American Bush Dog cross the road just in front of the car! Its short bushy tail disappeared into the undergrowth before we could even think of taking a photo. That was the beginnng of cool things that happened on this day.

We arrived at the tiende just as the sun was coming up. The banana feeder was already hopping with Blue-naped Chlorophonias, Bay-headed Tanagers and Santa Marta Brush-finches. The hummingbirds were just starting to rouse. There are some orange bushes that seem to really attract the hummers. Martin was staking one out that was catching the early sun. A male Blossomcrown came in, flashing its crown and giving him a great look! He was ecstatic. As far as he was concerned that was the sighting of the day, no matter what else we saw. A mixed flock moved through, with White-lored Warblers, a Streak-capped Spinetail and some of the "regulars". A Golden-breasted Fruiteater started giving its high pitched whistle. I finally got a good look and even a bad photo of it. We found both Montane and Ruddy Foliage-gleaners.

We had been hearing Keel-billed Toucans calling off and on since we arrived at El Dorado, but I had yet to see one. I was more than delighted when a pair flew in in the trees above us. Later on a pair of Yellow-billed Toucanets (aka Groove-billed) also moved through. We added a third species with Emerald Toucanet. I am particularly fond of Toucans, so it was nice to add two new species to my life list. I had seen Emerald before, but I wasn't going to turn away from it. We were really liking this spot.

We decided to try for a few more forest birds, so we moved a little ways down hill. This gave us one of the biggest thrills of the trip. In fact Pablo said it was his bird of the trip. We stopped at shaded area with a small stream nearby. We heard a Rusty-breasted Antpitta calling. I have related our earlier antpitta experiences and our lack of success in seeing these guys, so we were not exactly brimming with hope. Pablo played the call on this iPod and the bird moved closer. Then it came into a little clearing and we got a great look. Excellent! It turned out there were two of them. We were not expecting what happened next. One of them flew out and landed on a branch over the road right in front of us in the open. He even sat there long enough so we could get photos. Pablo said he had never seen this species this well. Normally you are lucky to get a little glimpse in the undergrowth. It made up for our earlier experiences!

We went back up the lodge for lunch and decided to go back up to the research station. Since we had had such amazing luck with the Rusty-breasted Antpitta, maybe we could get the Santa Marta. Yeah, right... We got to the station and Pablo and Martin walked down the hill to an area where we heard one calling the day before. My ankle was bugging me, so I decided to stay up top and photograph butterflies. I hadn't done much, when Martin came back up and got me. He said the Antpitta was really close. So, I went ahead and went down. Yes the Antpitta was very close. It sounded like it was maybe 6 feet away. Did we see it? No, of course not. Finally it moved away and we moved on. We did some more birding a little farther up the hill. We had a couple of mixed flocks and then it got quiet. We were moving down the road when suddenly a very small hawk flushed out of the trees, flew over the middle of the road and then back into the trees. It was a Tiny Hawk! I had been really wanting to see this bird since my first trip to South America. Its such a great name. We tried one or two more spots for the Antpitta that Pablo knew, but to no avail. Martin kept saying "All the trip reports say this is one of the easiest antpittas to get!"

We went back down to the lodge and I spent the rest of the afternoon photographing birds at the feeders. I found a really cool bug on the porch of the cabin. It was huge and scary looking with huge pinchers. I loved it! The Violetears were cooperative as far as photos go, as were the Violet-crowned Woodnymphs. Right before dinner I heard a Crested Oropendola giving its crazy call. I scanned the horizon and saw one perched on a tree. I don't even know how to begin to describe this birds song. It consists of all kinds of knocks squeeks and bubbling noise. When it reaches the end of the song the bird throws itself forward into what looks like is going to be a head dive, but it holds on with its feet, just pitching forward. It finished the song with a big WOOOOOW! I watched him for a long time and laughed with every time. I was already feeling sad that this was to be our last night at El Dorado. We went up to dinner. The girls who were there banding were very excited. They had seen night monkeys in the large tree next to the lodge! I was just a little jealous.

Photos from the day:
The photos are a little heavy on the Chlorophonias, but how can anyone not want to photograph them?

Bird list for the day:
1 Turkey Vulture
2 Black Vulture
3 Tiny Hawk
4 Bicolored Hawk
5 Broad-winged Hawk
6 Barred Forest-Falcon
7 Band-tailed Guan
8 Black-fronted Woodquail
9 Red-fronted Conure
10 Red-billed Parrot
11 Scaly-naped Amazon
12 Sooty-capped Hermit
13 Green Violet-ear
14 Sparkling Violetear
15 Coppery Emerald
16 Violet-crowned Woodnymph
17 White-tailed Starfrontlet
18 Tyrian Metaltail
19 Colombian Woodstar
20 Masked Trogon
21 Golden-olive Woodpecker
22 Lineated Woodpecker
23 Strong-billed Woodcreeper
24 Rusty-headed Spinetail
25 Streak-capped Spinetail
26 Montane Foliage-gleaner
27 Ruddy Foliage-gleaner
28 Plain Xenops
29 Santa Marta Antpitta
30 Rusty-breasted Antpitta
31 Santa Marta Tapaculo
32 Black-throated Tody-Tyrant
33 Cinnamon Flycatcher
34 Olive-sided Flycatcher
35 Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant
36 Golden-crowned Flycatcher
37 Golden-breasted Fruiteater
38 House Wren
39 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren
40 Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush
41 Black-hooded Thrush
42 Black-chested Jay
43 Rufous-collared Sparrow
44 Yellow-bellied Seedeater
45 Santa Marta Brushfinch
46 Southern Yellow Grosbeak
47 Summer Tanager
48 Blue-capped Tanager
49 Thick-billed Euphonia
50 Blue-naped Chlorophonia
51 Bay-headed Tanager
52 Black-headed Tanager
53 Rusty Flowerpiercer
54 White-sided Flowerpiercer
55 Tennessee Warbler
56 Black-and-white Warbler
57 Blackburnian Warbler
58 Slate-throated Redstart
59 Yellow-crowned Whitestart
60 White-lored Warbler
61 Golden-fronted Greenlet
62 Crested Oropendola
63 Emerald Toucanet
64 Groove-billed Toucanet
65 Keel-billed Toucan

Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio, Tx

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Colombia Day Day 10, December 16

On our second morning at El Dorado we got our driver back! We ate a quick breakfast and started up hill in the dark. We flushed a White-tailed Nightjar off of the road, which was a good beginning! We were heading towards Kennedy Peak, the top of the mountain that El Dorado is located on. The peak is the site of several radio towers, as I mentioned previously. There are a number of birds found at the higher elevations, including a hummingbird, Black-back Thornbill that Martin was really aching for. In fact, it was one of his two most wanted birds of the trip, along with Blossomcrown. Pablo knew a place where he had seen them fairly reliably. Its a bird that most people miss, so we were trying not to get our hopes up too much.

To say the road up is rough is more than an understatement. Its very rocky and even in a high clearance vehicle, its difficult. We were bouncing all over the place. I felt like I had been beat up by the time we got up there. I felt like I had bruises all over. Despite that, the drive up was gorgeous. The vistas were amazing. We had the Caribbean on one side of the road and were getting great looks at snow-capped peaks on the other side. We passed through forest with large stands of red blooming plants that looked custom made for hummingbirds. Several times we passed cliffs blanketed in a pink moss. It was worth the battering! Flocks of Scarlet-fronted Parakeets flew over calling loudly. Red-billed Parrots and Scaly-naped Amazons added to the noise. We stopped at place with a great view, and were rewarded with a flock of Santa Marta Parakeets quite close in. It was a good day for parrots, if nothing else.

We then stopped at a grove of flowering trees. High up in the tops of trees were a bunch of hummingbirds feeding. At first glance all I saw were Sparkling and Green Violetears, who as I have mentioned before, bully all the other hummers. There were a scattering of Tyrian Metaltails and a Mountain Velvetbreast. It was hard to keep looking up. My neck was beginning to ache. It reminded me of spring warbler migration. Then I spotted a bird at the very top of one the trees. It had very tiny short bill and I could just make out the throat color, the thorn bill! I called for Martin, but before he could get on it, the violetears struck and it flew off. Shades of the Blossomcrown. I figured we would re-find it quickly. I figured wrong. Martin and I looked and looked. I even scanned all the flowering shrubs on a lower level across the road, but there was no sign of it. This was not good. It was bad enough that I had the Blossomcrown and he didn't, but this was unbearable. We finally decided to move on and then come back.

The road further up had a huge grove of endemic palm trees, leading up to the towers. The road was lined with low trees and shrubs. We had several mixed flocks, including Santa Marta Warblers and Brush-finches, more Mountain-tanagers, Blue-capped Tanagers, White-sided Flower-piercers and various flycatchers. We found a just fledged Tyrian Metaltail being fed by its mother. She took off, but I was able to get a couple of shots of the baby. We worked back down and checked the grove again and were discouraged to see no hummingbirds at all! It was rather glum. We decided to go down slope to look for Santa Marta Bush-tyrant and then maybe come back. There is a spot with severalsmaller antennae that can be good for them. Pablo walked up a small trail playing the call on his iPod. We heard a bird respond and found it sitting up on one of the antennas. Clouds had moved in, so it was difficult to get a good look, but it appeared to be our target. The problem is there is another bush-tyrant in the area that looks very similar, Streak-throated Bush-tyrant. They are larger than the Santa Martas and they have heavier streaking on the throat. From the silhouette we thought it was a Santa Marta, but Martin made the mistake of photographing it. When we looked on the camera we could see it was a Streak-throated, which we had seen before on previous trips. It did seem smaller than the ones we had seen before, but it definitely was a Streak-throated. We walked back up to the car and heard a bird call that sounded like the tape. There it was, a real Santa Marta Bush-tyrant! It was much closer and the sky had cleared, so we weren't in the fog.

We ate lunch and looked for the Santa Marta Antpitta again. We heard it calling, never saw it. This was getting old! So we decided to go back up to the place where I saw the thorn-bill. The hummingbirds were back in force! This time things were much better. Martin finally spotted a likely suspect. He saw enough to ID it, but as he will say "better view desired!" He asked Pablo if he had the thornbill on his iPod. Pablo did, but hummingbirds rarely respond to tapes in our experience. Pablo went ahead any way and were we surprised by what happened! Immediately a thornbill flew up in a very agitated manner and called back very strongly. We saw where he landed and Martin even got him in the scope. Whew. I was really relieved. I was worried that I was going to have to call Willie Sekula, who was watching our cat for us, to go over and pack my things if Martin didn't get the bird. (They know I am kidding, Martin!) Anyway, we were feeling very full of ourselves! We worked back down, hoping to see more hummingbirds in some good flowers, but we didn't have much success. We did hear Slaty-backed Nightingale Thush which has a fabulous call. It was getting close to sunset, when we decided to head back to the lodge. A Barred Forest-falcon started calling and we tried to get him to come in with a tape, but had no success. Despite that, it had been a great day! After dinner I went straight to bed, but Martin and Pablo tried again for the Screech Owl, with the same results. Martin was so happy with the thornbill, I don't think he really cared!

Photos from the day:

Bird List:
1 Turkey Vulture
2 Black Vulture
3 White-rumped Hawk
4 Broad-winged Hawk
5 Band-tailed Guan
6 Black-fronted Woodquail
7 Red-fronted Conure
8 Santa Marta Parakeet
9 Red-billed Parrot
10 Scaly-naped Amazon
11 White-tailed Nightjar
12 Green Violet-ear
13 Sparkling Violetear
14 Violet-crowned Woodnymph
15 Mountain Velvetbreast
16 White-tailed Starfrontlet
17 Black-backed Thornbill
18 Tyrian Metaltail
19 Rusty-headed Spinetail
20 Streak-capped Spinetail
21 Santa Marta Antpitta
22 Rufous Antpitta
23 Brown-rumped Tapaculo
24 White-throated Tyrannulet
25 Black-throated Tody-Tyrant
26 Cinnamon Flycatcher
27 Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant
28 Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant
29 Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant
30 Golden-breasted Fruiteater
31 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren
32 Great Thrush
33 Black-hooded Thrush
34 Black-chested Jay
35 Rufous-collared Sparrow
36 Paramo Seedeater
37 Santa Marta Brushfinch
38 Southern Yellow Grosbeak
39 Blue-capped Tanager
40 Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager
41 Blue-and-black Tanager
42 White-sided Flowerpiercer
43 Blackburnian Warbler
44 Slate-throated Redstart
45 Golden-fronted Whitestart
46 Santa Marta Warbler
47 Andean Siskin
Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio, Tx

Colomombia, Dec. 15, Hitching a Ride

I don't think I ever enjoyed looking out the back door more in my life on waking up. Santa Marta was stretched out 7,000 feet below us. The stars were blazing in the pre-dawn sky. At that point I didn't care if I ever saw another bird. (that is such a lie!) The electricity was still out, so we dressed by candlelight and went up to the main building for breakfast. We could hear Band-tailed Guans calling all around us. It was starting to get light as we walked up to the lodge and the hummingbirds were already battling.

Our original plan had been to go up the mountain to the summit, where there are some radio towers, but there had been a little mix up concerning drivers. We were staying at El Dorado for four nights. We had expected to use their driver and car, but they were short on gasoline. Pablo had arranged for our driver Jaimie to come back on our second full day for the rest of the stay, but on this day we were going to be on foot. With all that was around the lodge, I was happy. After breakfast we decided to walk a trail near the lodge, looking for White-tipped Quetzal. The trail was quiet, we headed back down to the lodge. This was a good move, as there were Stripe-headed Brush-finch on the compost pile, where we had seen the Black-fronted Wood-quail the evening before. Martin spotted a Santa Marta Woodstar on one of the bushes in front of our cabin. I had missed it the evening before. Woodstars are tiny hummingbirds which mimic bumble bees in their flight and sound. This way they can sneak in "under the radar", avoiding a lot of the aggression of the other hummers. Its a lot of fun to watch them fly in very slowly, stopping and starting, buzzing just like a big bee. I imagine them saying "Don't bother about me, I am just a bumble bee. No worries from me".

Pablo suggested we walk the road up hill, so we started out. We hadn't gone fare when we hitched a ride with a driver going up to the radio towers with a worker. There is a research station about half way between the lodge and the towers. Before the lodge opened this is where birders stayed. Its part of a national park and has accomadation which are basic, but adequate. There are gorgeous gardens and the view is even better, if that's possible, than at El Dorado! The driver dropped us off and we went looking for Santa Marta Antpitta. This turned out to be an excercise in frustration. There is a trail behind the building and one was calling less than 20 feet away in the bushes. Pablo played the call back and the bird came a little closer. We worked and worked to see it, but with no luck. We never even saw the tiniest movement. Then it decided to move off. No worries. It was just one bird. All of the trip reports from this area say things like "As usual, the Santa Marta Antpitta was easy".

The Santa Marta Mountain-tanagers more than made up for the antpitta, as far as I was concerned. They resemble Lacrimose Mountain-tanagers, which I have always liked a lot. We got good looks at the tanagers as they worked some bushes almost on eye level. Santa Marta Brush-finches were also around, and even though we had seen them well the day before, I enjoyed them. We added a new warbler, Golden-crowned Whitestart. He was pretty cooperative, even allowing me to take a not great, but recognizable photo. A Black-and-Chestnut Eagle soared over and a flock of Santa Marta Parakeets flew by. As it warmed up a bit butterflies starting flying, and I got a few pictures. I am still working on the IDs and probably will be for some time.

After an hour the driver we hitched with came back down, so we jumped back in and headed to the lodge. We birded the surrounding area until lunch. I had a great time at the hummingbird feeders, practicing photographing them. I decided after looking at my pictures that I need a lot more practice! I particularly liked the Violet-crowned Woodnymphs. They are very common, but the color on the male's gorget is the most spectacular green. I never got tired of it! Blue-naped Chlorphonias also gave my camera a work out. I found it difficult to not continue shooting pictures of them. The make our Painted Buntings look almost dull. After lunch we walked another trail near the lodge, where we easily picked up Rusty-headed Spinetail. Again, we heard Santa Marta Antpitta, which kind of reminded me of a Bobwhite. Again it was really close. Again we didn't see it. What we did see were two White-tipped Quetzals! The male came in first, followed by a female. Any day with a quetzal is a good day. We were also very happy to find out we had electricity again. Unfortunately the water had not heated up much when we took showers, but there are worse things.

The Band-tailed Guans came into the tree across the road at sunset. Crested Oropendalas were calling. Black-headed Thrush were singing and popping up in the fruting tree next to the lodge. After dinner we tried again for the Santa Marta Screech-owl. We heard it calling close by, but it never flew in. I couldn't help but think he was conspiring with the antpitta. It had been a great day and I was very ready for a good nights sleep. Martin spent some time on our balcony enjoying the incredible stars. I got out the novel I was reading and maybe got through two pages before I was asleep.

The days photos:
The bird list:
1 Turkey Vulture
2 Black-and-chestnut Eagle
3 Band-tailed Guan
4 Black-fronted Woodquail
5 Band-tailed Pigeon
6 Lined Quail-Dove
7 Scarlet-fronted Parakeet
8 Santa Marta Parakeet
9 Red-billed Parrot
10 Scaly-naped Amazon
11 Green Violet-ear
12 Sparkling Violetear
13 Coppery Emerald
14 Violet-crowned Woodnymph
15 White-tailed Starfrontlet
16 Tyrian Metaltail
17 Santa Marta Woodstar
18 White-tipped Quetzal
19 Masked Trogon
20 Keel-billed Toucan
21 Golden-olive Woodpecker
22 Strong-billed Woodcreeper
23 Streak-headed Woodcreeper
24 Rusty-headed Spinetail
25 Montane Foliage-gleaner
26 Santa Marta Antpitta
27 Brown-rumped Tapaculo
28 Mountain Elaenia
29 White-throated Tyrannulet
30 Olive-striped Flycatcher
31 Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
32 Black-throated Tody-Tyrant
33 Cinnamon Flycatcher
34 Golden-crowned Flycatcher
35 Golden-breasted Fruiteater
36 House Wren
37 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren
38 Black-hooded Thrush
39 Rufous-collared Sparrow
40 Santa Marta Brushfinch
41 Stripe-headed Brushfinch
42 Blue-grey Tanager
43 Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager
44 Blue-naped Chlorophonia
45 Bay-headed Tanager
46 Black-capped Tanager
47 Rusty Flowerpiercer
48 White-sided Flowerpiercer
49 Tennessee Warbler
50 Black-and-white Warbler
51 Blackburnian Warbler
52 Blackpoll Warbler
53 Slate-throated Redstart
54 Yellow-crowned Whitestart
55 Gray-throated Warbler
56 White-lored Warbler
57 Brown-capped Vireo
58 Crested Oropendola

Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio, Tx

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Colombia Dec. 14, Day 9 All I Can Say is HOLY COW!

This trip seem to be building to a crescendo. I loved every place we went more than the last. This day everything peaked and to be honest, it pretty much stayed at that peak. We started birding in Minca, just above our hotel. The roads were forested and very easy to bird. We began looking for Rosy-thrush Tanager. Pablo had a spot and sure enough, when he played the tape, they responded immediately. Unfortunately they only called. Despite hearing them very closely, then never showed their beautiful faces. I think they must have taken lessons from the antpittas. We did find Golden-winged Sparrows in the vincinity, which made up for it. They are very flashy for sparrows. We saw our first American Redstarts of the trip, along with the ubiquitous Blackburnians. Several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were around. Grey-breasted Woodwrens were singing. It was a very pleasant morning. We got to a side road that leads to a beautiful spot on a small river, where there is a swimming hole called Pozo Azul. An old covered bridge crossed the river. It was almost like being back in Pennsylvania. Pablo said he had seen Otters on this stretch of water, but that wasn't to be for us. There was something even more exciting. Martin crossed the bridge and spotted a large hummingbird working low in the flowers. It was a bird that we had wanted very badly, but were not at all confident that we would see, a Santa Marta Sabrewing. Pablo had told us this species had been seen on this road before, but it had seemed too good to be true. We were thrilled to say the least, as this is a very difficult bird to find.

We returned to the lodge for our gear and started the climb up to El Dorado. We went back to Pozo Azul, but there was no sign of the Sabrewing. We worked our way up the road and saw some wonderful birds. There was a Black-backed Antshrike very close and confiding. A King Vulture flew over, which is one of my favorite birds. A Cinnamon Becard was right over our heads. We came to a small tiende (store) where they had planted incredible hummingbird gardens. This is a well known spot that birders stop at on their way up to the lodge. We bought a couple of cokes and I had a cup of their sweet strong coffee. There were many blackberry bushes and a few coffee plants. It looked very promising, but as we had run into before, there was a glut of Green Violetears. They were being very aggressive. A banana feeder was next to the store, which had several Blue-naped Chlorophonias, a bird I had missed on our last trip. They are unbelievably colorful! I was very excited to get a few photos.

We spread out a little bit. I was still standing near the banana feeder when I saw a hummingbird that was not a violetear. I saw the bright crown and realized it was one of our main targets, a male Blossomcrown. I called out and Martin ran over. Unfortunately the Violetears flew in faster than Martin could get there and chased it away. This was not good. Martin really wanted this bird. There were two hummingbirds that were on the very top of his list, Black-backed Thornbill and Blossomcrown. We looked and looked and couldn't re-find it. I felt terrible and I am sure Martin felt even worse. I found myself thinking that I wish I had not seen it. (Well, I sort of felt that way.) Pablo told Martin he knew a trail where they were sometimes seen, so we headed off. The trail was up nearer to the lodge. Its called the Mora (blackberry) trail. The Blossomcrowns like blackberry flowers. The trail was rather steep, so I stayed below, as I didn't want to slow them down. I photographed some butterflies while they searched, which satisfied me. They returned not having seen the hummingbird, so we proceeded to the lodge.

We pulled up to a very nice wooden building. Inside the walls are lined with windows. There is a lovely dining room and little store with crafts made my local woman. This building overlooks the cabins. Montero, the ranger who lives on site greeted us. We walked down a long outside stone stair case to a path leading down to our cabin. Hummingbird feeders were everywhere, as were flowering bushes. The view was the most spectacular I had ever seen! We were at about 7000 ft and you could see Santa Marta and the Caribbean down below us. A thin peninsula stretched out to the west, leading to Baranquilla. We were compleletly blown away! The hummingbird feeders were swarming with great birds. One big surprise was White-tailed Starfrontlets. The trip reports we had read had not mentioned the feeders. Violet-crowned Woodnymphs were common. Unfortunately the Green Violetears also liked this area, so there were a few conflicts. Santa Marta Brush finches came in to some bananas on a feeder, soon joined by more Blue-naped Chlorophonias.

We unloaded our gear in the cabin, which was beautiful. One wall was all glass, with sliding doors to a balcony. The view from the balcony of Santa Marta was gorgeous during the day, and enough to make you cry at night, with the stars blazing above and the lights of Santa Marta twinkling below. In the distance we could see the glow of the city lights of Baranquilla. It is impossible to describe how enchanting this place was! The beds were really comfortable with wonderful linens. I know its a cliche, but I felt like I was in heaven. I could move into this place and stay forever. Darn, I wish I was there right now! There was one negative, the power was out. The lines that run to the lodge and to the research station farther up the mountain, are a bit tenuous. This place was so fabulous, we really didn't care. The cook gave us candles and matches. All was well!

We went back outside and worked through all the hummingbirds. The cook came out and told us to check the compost pile. Black-fronted Wood-quail were having their supper! Wood-quail are notoriously difficult to see. We quietly walked over and stood and watched the Wood-quail for about 15 minutes. I got some really crummy photos, but any photos of them are fabulous! Santa Marta Stripe-headed Brush-finch also came in. The hummingbird feeders were still very active. Band-tailed Guans flew into a tree across the road. We heard a Golden-breasted Fruit-eater calling. Finally the sun started sinking and we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen. We went in to the main building for an excellent candle-light dinner. We met two delightful young women staying at the lodge, one Colombian, on German, who were there banding birds. After dinner we went outside to try to find a Santa Marta Screech-owl. We heard a couple calling close to the lodge, but never actually saw one. This was a small dissappointment, but it did not dim the glow of a wonderful day. I couldn't wait for morning!

Photos taken: (warning, I took a lot of them!)

Bird List:
1 Turkey Vulture
2 Black Vulture
3 King Vulture
4 Broad-winged Hawk
5 Band-tailed Guan
6 Black-fronted Woodquail
7 Band-tailed Pigeon
8 Ruddy Ground-Dove
9 White-tipped Dove
10 Lined Quail-Dove
11 Red-fronted Conure
12 Orange-chinned Parakeet
13 Red-billed Parrot
14 Smooth-billed Ani
15 Squirrel Cuckoo
16 White-collared Swift
17 Short-tailed Swift
18 Pale-bellied Hermit
19 Stripe-throated Hermit
20 Santa Marta Sabrewing
21 Green Violet-ear
22 Sparkling Violetear
23 Black-throated Mango
24 Red-billed Emerald
25 Coppery Emerald
26 Violet-crowned Woodnymph
27 Steely-vented Hummingbird
28 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
29 White-vented Plumeleteer
30 Blossomcrown
31 White-tailed Starfrontlet
32 Tyrian Metaltail
33 Rufous-tailed Jacamar
34 Scaled Piculet
35 Red-crowned Woodpecker
36 Plain-brown Woodcreeper
37 Black-backed Antshrike
38 Brown-rumped Tapaculo
39 Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
40 Slaty-capped Flycatcher
41 Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant
42 Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant
43 Yellow-olive Flycatcher
44 Cinnamon Flycatcher
45 Tropical Pewee
46 Black Phoebe
47 Bright-rumped Attila
48 Dusky-capped Flycatcher
49 Social Flycatcher
50 Cinnamon Becard
51 White-bearded Manakin
52 Golden-breasted Fruiteater
53 Southern Rough-winged Swallow
54 Bicolored Cactus-Wren
55 Rufous-breasted Wren
56 House Wren
57 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren
58 Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush
59 Black-hooded Thrush
60 Black-chested Jay
61 Rufous-collared Sparrow
62 Thick-billed Seed-Finch
63 Golden-winged Sparrow
64 Black-striped Sparrow
65 Santa Marta Brushfinch
66 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
67 Buff-throated Saltator
68 Streaked Saltator
69 Rosy Thrush-Tanager
70 Summer Tanager
71 Crimson-backed Tanager
72 Blue-grey Tanager
73 Palm Tanager
74 Blue-naped Chlorophonia
75 Black-capped Tanager
76 Rusty Flowerpiercer
77 White-sided Flowerpiercer
78 Tennessee Warbler
79 Blackburnian Warbler
80 American Redstart
81 Rufous-capped Warbler
82 Crested Oropendola

Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio, Tx

Monday, January 4, 2010

Colombia, Day 8, Dec. 13 Goodbye Riohacha

I hope you will excuse the delay in my writing this blog. Between the holiday and chasing a couple of amazingly good birds, I got behind. Oh well, its not like I was writing in real time, anyway.

Our birding began early, as usual on December 13. We had arranged to meet Dijohnnes at the Los Flamecos Sanctuary. We parked at the spot where we had seen the Vermilion Cardinal the evening before, secretly hoping he would still be sitting there. Unfortunately he wasn't. Dijohnnes' brother and sister arrived on a bicycle and Dijohnnes pulled up on his shortly after. His younger siblings were a little shy, but did agree to a couple of photos, though making them smile was not easy! Dijohnnes parked his bike and we took off through the scrub. Our main targer that morning was Chestnut Piculet, a tiny member of the woodpecker family.

I had seen one the day before, but Martin had missed it. This was not a good thing! Martin really wanted this bird badly. Its always uncomfortable for one person to get a bird and the other to miss it. I almost felt badly that I had seen it. (Almost!) We had not walked a great distance when Pablo spotted a piculet. We scrambled to all get a look. It took some ducking under bushes and avoiding thorns, but we finally got a great look. I even got a few lousy photos! It made me feel much better that Martin had caught up. We saw many of the same birds we had seen the day before, but didn't repeat on the cardinal. I particularly enjoyed the hummingbirds. The Buffy Hummingbird isn't flashy, but it was still attractive and it let me photograph it, so that was nice!

We went to the restaurant on the beach again for breakfast. While they were preparing it, we birded around the area. One of the first birds we added to the list was another grackle, Caribe Grackle. This one isn't as endangered as the Mountain, nor as range restricted (and pretty) as the Red-bellied, which we had seen on our previous trip, but it was still a welcome addition. It was also interesting to contrast it with its larger cousin, the Great-tailed Grackle, which we also have in Texas. An Orinoco Saltator put on a great show. I enjoyed the Russet-throated Puffbird and the Yellow Oriole again. This little beach area could be addicting.

After breakfast we walked down a dirt road to a lagoon behind the village. Laughing Gulls were loafing, along with a number of terns. A larger first winter gull came in. It appeared to be the Lesser Black-back I had found the day before. Pablo was really excited, as it was a life bird for him. He had missed the bird the day before, as he was arranging for Dijohnned to guide us when it had appeared. It was a nice change to show Pablo a life bird, instead of him showing us! We picked up some more shorebirds and enjoyed the view of the Santa Marta mountains again, knowing we would be heading up very soon. We worked the scrub a bit more, still not seeing the cardinal.

We returned to the river where Martin had seen the Glaucous Tanager the day before. I was hoping it was now my turn to play catch up, but it didn't happen. We did have several warblers, including a Blackpoll and several Prothonataries. The butterflies were absolutely thick. Most of them were White-peacocks, which are fairly common in south Texas, but there were a few others. We thought we had a Greater Ani. It looked large when it was deep in the trees, but when it came out it proved to be another Smooth-billed. We had a long drive ahead of us and we wanted to do some birding along the road, so we big farewell to Dijohnnes and headed west.

We had stopped at a restaurant along the road when we had driven to Riohacha two days prior. Pablo said this was a good spot for hummingbirds and possibly the Glaucous Tanager. That day it was a little late, so the birding was slow. We decided to have lunch there and see what we could find. We ordered and started working the trees in the yard, looking for something interesting. I picked up a life bird almost immediately, Red-legged Honeycreeper. This was, as Martin puts it, a "tart's tick", a British birder expression for a bird you should have gotten a long time ago. There wasn't much else there, so I wandered down to the river edge. I heard a huge splashing and looked down to see a very large lizard scampering across the river. It wasn't until he got across I realized he was not wading, but actually running on the water! It was a Basilisk. sometimes called a Jesus Christ Lizard, because of its ability to walk on water. It was laying on the opposite bank and I tried very hard to get a good photo, as it was a great looking animal. It had a big crest and a ridge down its back. It would open its mouth, and stick out its tongue. I was really impressed, but the light was really bad and he was too far away for the flash to do much good, so the pictures are very sucky. I was able to photograph the most amazing squirrel I have ever seen. It was red. Now, I know, we have Red Squirrels here in Texas, but they are just kind of rusty. This guy was RED. I mean really red!

Our next stop was Minca, a town above Santa Marta where the locals went to get away from the coastal heat. The elevation isn't really that high, but its enough to provide some relief. Its a charming little town, with some good accomadations. Our hotel sat on the Minca river, with rocky rapids right below the dining area. The lodge was decorated with some really unusual local art work, including some wonderful carvings of birds. The food was great, as usual. The beds were good. We were really happy! We went to sleep thinking of those snow capped peaks we were heading up into the following morning.
Photos for the day:

Bird List:
1 Neotropic Cormorant
2 Brown Pelican
3 Magnificent Frigatebird
4 Great Blue Heron
5 Cattle Egret
6 Great Egret
7 Reddish Egret
8 Snowy Egret
9 White Ibis
10 Roseate Spoonbill
11 Turkey Vulture
12 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
13 Black Vulture
14 Caribbean Flamingo
15 Savanna Hawk
16 Crested Caracara
17 Yellow-headed Caracara
18 Bat Falcon
19 Semipalmated Plover
20 Whimbrel
21 Spotted Sandpiper
22 Laughing Gull
23 Caspian Tern
24 Royal Tern
25 Sandwich Tern
26 Common Tern
27 Bare-eyed Pigeon
28 Common Ground-Dove
29 Ruddy Ground-Dove
30 Scaly Dove
31 White-tipped Dove
32 Brown-throated Parakeet
33 Green-rumped Parrotlet
34 Orange-chinned Parakeet
35 Smooth-billed Ani
36 Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
37 White-collared Swift
38 Band-rumped Swift
39 Red-billed Emerald
40 Shining-green Hummingbird
41 Buffy Hummingbird
42 Green Kingfisher
43 Rufous-tailed Jacamar
44 Russet-throated Puffbird
45 Chestnut Piculet
46 Red-crowned Woodpecker
47 Straight-billed Woodcreeper
48 White-whiskered Spinetail
49 Black-crested Antshrike
50 Barred Antshrike
51 White-fringed Antwren
52 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet
53 Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
54 Yellow-bellied Elaenia
55 Slender-billed Inezia
56 Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
57 Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant
58 Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant
59 Common Tody-Flycatcher
60 Ochre-lored Flatbill
61 Vermilion Flycatcher
62 Brown-crested Flycatcher
63 Great Kiskadee
64 Boat-billed Flycatcher
65 Social Flycatcher
66 Tropical Kingbird
67 Gray Kingbird
68 Striped Manakin
69 Southern Rough-winged Swallow
70 Bicolored Cactus-Wren
71 Rufous-breasted Wren
72 House Wren
73 Tropical Mockingbird
74 Tropical Gnatcatcher
75 Black-chested Jay
76 Rufous-collared Sparrow
77 Blue-black Grassquit
78 Gray Seedeater
79 Tocuyo Sparrow
80 Gray Pileated-Finch
81 Buff-throated Saltator
82 Orinocan Saltator
83 Blue-black Grosbeak
84 Crimson-backed Tanager
85 Blue-grey Tanager
86 Palm Tanager
87 Trinidad Euphonia
88 Red-legged Honeycreeper
89 Bananaquit
90 Northern Parula
91 Tropical Parula
92 Yellow Warbler
93 Blackpoll Warbler
94 Northern Waterthrush
95 Prothonotary Warbler
96 Scrub Greenlet
97 Yellow Oriole
98 Great-tailed Grackle
99 Carib Grackle
100 Shiny Cowbird
101 Lesser Black-backed Gull