Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 7, Dec. 12 How hard can it be to find a cardinal?

It was a new day, a new place and there were a lot of new birds to be seen. We had slept well. Our hotel was quite comfortable. We met Pablo and Jaime in the lobby and headed out to Los Flamencos Sanctuary, next to the village of Camarones. This reserve has a really interesting community of birds. There are shallow salt lagoons that are home to American Flamingos, Scarlet and White Ibis and many other wading birds. Even more interesting is the dry scrub forest surrounding the lagoons. Despite being on the coast, this is area is desert complete with large stands of cactus. If you don't see the beach you would think you were in Tucson. There are a number of endemics and near endemics that call this scrub home.

Our first stop was actually on the beach inside the perserve. Pablo had arranged for a teenaged boy, Diojohnnes, (I am totally unsure of the spelling of his name) who lives on the sanctuary grounds, to be our guide. He was not a birder, but he has amazing eyes and knowledge of the local fauna, including one of our main targets, Vermilion Cardinal. While waiting for Diojohnnes to join us, I walked down to the beach. A large dark backed gull flew in, a first winter Lesser Black-back! I called Martin over. It was kind of nice to show him a gull for a change! The bird flew on, but a second one came in a few minutes later. It also flew off, right before Pablo and Diojohnnes arrived. This was unfortunate, as Pablo had never seen one. They are fairly rare in Colombia. There is something ironic about seeing a bird that is fairly common at home, but really rare where you are currently birding. Its hard to get super excited, if you know what I mean.

We drove a short distance to an area that was good for the cardinal. One of the lagoons was nearby. We could see some pink shapes across the water in the early morning light. Scoping the water we picked out Roseate Spoonbills, a handful of American Flamingos, and two or three Scarlet Ibis, one of our targets. Sometimes its necessary to take a boat to see the flamingos, so we were lucky. Even though we had seen them before, it was great getting them for our Colombia list. We turned our attention to the scrub forest. Diojohnnes immediately found something of interest to me, a small snake! I don't know herps at all, but I really like them. I got a few photos, if anyone is interested in helping me ID it. It kind of reminded me of a Checkered Garter Snake, though not the same color.

We picked up a number of birds fairly quickly. Scaled Doves flushed up from the bath, which resemble our Inca Doves. Bare-eyed Pigeons flew by, which resemble our White-winged Doves. A Black-crested Antshrike came in close to investigate us, which doesn't look like a darn thing like anything we have in Texas. I really love antshrikes. They have fabulous calls, often heard in jungle movies, and a crazed look about them. We also heard a Barred Antshrike in the distance. Slender-billed Inezias showed well. White-fringed Antwrens were fairly common and very curious, coming close to investigate anyone whistling a pygmy owl imitation. Another target bird, White-whiskered Spinetail, was very cooperative. Things were going very well. We had still not seen the Vermilion Cardinal, but the day was young.

We were getting hungry, so we went back to the beach by Camarones, where there is an open air restaurant. While we were waiting for our food we birded the surrounding trees and picked up Yellow Oriole, Russet-throated Puffbird and Orinocan Saltator. A couple of local kids showed us some fish they had caught, happily mugging for my camera. We had a leisurely breakfast of eggs and plantain, watching the locals fishing in the surf with dug out canoes. Terns and Laughing Gulls worked the waves. Dozens of Snowy Egrets picked through the left overs from the fishing nets. A Whimbrel walked along the water's edge. We could see the snow capped Santa Marta Mountains in the background, behind the curve of the beach. I found myself thinking, "This is the feeling that the big inclusive resorts are trying to capture, but the real deal is so much better!" Sure, Camarones is poor. There were skinny dogs and a few pigs wandering around. It wasn't immaculately clean, like the Bogota area, but I still found it beautiful and consider myself extremely lucky to have experienced it.

We went back into the scrub, still hoping for the cardinal. We trolled with the iPod, and heard a few chips that sounded promising, but had no luck at all. One bird that was abundant was Prothonatary Warbler. It was so peculiar to see a bird I associate with wet wooded areas in desert scrub! We scored on Pileated Finch and Green-rumped Parrotlet. There is a riparian area where Glaucous Tanager is seen. Martin saw it, but I missed it. I had a Green Kingfisher, which Martin missed, but it wasn't a very good trade off, in my opinion! I found a frog/toad, flipped over on its back struggling to turn over. Its belly was streaked with the most amazing fluorescent pink! I flipped him over and got a couple of photos. Again, if anyone wants to take a shot at IDing it, I would appreciate the help.

This area gets extremely hot during mid day. The birds siesta and it makes sense for birders to siesta, too. We returned to Riohacha for lunch and a break. I did walk down to the beach for a little while and watched a number of Magnificent Frigate Birds. Even that was too hot, so I returned to the room and luxuriated in the air conditioning. Regrouping at about 3PM, we returned to Los Flamencos, picked up Diojohnnes and resumed our search for the elusive cardinal.

There were good birds, Scub Greenlet, Troupial, Northern Scrub Flycatcher and more antshrikes. We seperated Venezualian Flycatcher from Brown-crested Flycatcher. Buffy Hummingbird was spectacular! We came across a tree packed with White Ibis and a few Scarlet's thrown in for color. But there was still no cardinal. We tried another patch of woods, but had no luck. How hard could it be to find a cardinal? It looks very similar to our Northern Cardinal. The crest is a bit more extravagant, and the color is more intense. I expected it to act like ours. I don't think I have ever played an owl tape in San Antonio and not had a cardinal respond! Pablo was really trying, but it just wasn't happening. He did see a couple of females retreating into the scrub, but too quickly gone to get us on them. The sun was setting and it seemed completely futile to continue. We drug ourselves back to the car. Then Pablo called out excitedly. A beautiful male Vermilion Cardinal was perched in a low shrub! In ten minutes it would have been too dark to see it. Whew! We arranged to meet Diojohnnes in the morning and went back to Riohacha.

Photos from the day:

Bird List:
1 Brown Pelican
2 Magnificent Frigatebird
3 Great Blue Heron
4 Cattle Egret
5 Great Egret
6 Reddish Egret
7 Snowy Egret
8 White Ibis
9 Scarlet Ibis
10 Roseate Spoonbill
11 Turkey Vulture
12 Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
13 Black Vulture
14 Caribbean Flamingo
15 Crested Caracara
16 Yellow-headed Caracara
17 Merlin
18 Limpkin
19 Wattled Jacana
20 Whimbrel
21 Lesser Yellowlegs
22 Solitary Sandpiper
23 Spotted Sandpiper
24 Willet
25 Wilson's Snipe
26 Laughing Gull
27 Royal Tern
28 Sandwich Tern
29 Bare-eyed Pigeon
30 Common Ground-Dove
31 Plain-breasted Ground-Dove
32 Ruddy Ground-Dove
33 Scaly Dove
34 White-tipped Dove
35 Brown-throated Parakeet
36 Green-rumped Parrotlet
37 Smooth-billed Ani
38 Striped Cuckoo
39 Squirrel Cuckoo
40 Lesser Nighthawk
41 Red-billed Emerald
42 Shining-green Hummingbird
43 Buffy Hummingbird
44 Green Kingfisher
45 Rufous-tailed Jacamar
46 Russet-throated Puffbird
47 Chestnut Piculet
48 Red-crowned Woodpecker
49 Straight-billed Woodcreeper
50 Pale-legged Hornero
51 White-whiskered Spinetail
52 Black-crested Antshrike
53 Barred Antshrike
54 White-flanked Antwren
55 Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
56 Slender-billed Inezia
57 Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant
58 Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant
59 Venezuelan Flycatcher
60 Brown-crested Flycatcher
61 Great Kiskadee
62 Tropical Kingbird
63 Gray Kingbird
64 Bicolored Cactus-Wren
65 House Wren
66 Tropical Mockingbird
67 Tropical Gnatcatcher
68 Gray Pileated-Finch
69 Vermilion Cardinal
70 Buff-throated Saltator
71 Orinocan Saltator
72 American Yellow Warbler
73 Blackpoll Warbler
74 Prothonotary Warbler
75 Scrub Greenlet
76 Yellow Oriole
77 Troupial
78 Baltimore Oriole
79 Great-tailed Grackle

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 6, Dec. 11. Goodbye Dan, Hello Guajira Peninsula

We had a couple of hours early in the morning to finish our Bogota birding. Bogota Rail was our target. Oswaldo had a doctor’s appointment, so we were accompanied by Pablo. Our target that morning was Bogota Rail. Oswaldo had a spot for it near Guasca where he said we couldn’t miss it. (Oh yeah, I’ve heard that before) He had given Pablo directions the evening before. To be honest, we had some trepidation. Rails are always a pain in the neck to see and Pablo was not familiar with the area at all.

We got to the general area and sure enough, the directions were not very clear. We had a very limited time to look. We cruised up and down a gravel road, driving past a very interesting old church with some ruins several times. Pablo called Oswaldo. We still couldn’t find it. We asked a couple of local farmers on the road and they gave us wildly conflicting directions. We were more than a little tense. Finally we stopped a woman driving a donkey cart. She pointed over a hill. It looked like an area that could have some water, so we went through the gate and started up.

Sure enough, there was a beautiful little marsh. Several snipe flushed, a Noble and a couple of Wilson ’s. Then we saw a rail skittering through the grasses. Success! It was brief, but we saw it fairly well. Then we noticed another rail in a different area. And then another! These were very easy to see. They wandered around out in the open, even allowing a few photos. (Mine are pretty poor, but Martin got decent ones. ) Pablo was stunned by the looks we got. He said he had never seen Bogota Rail anywhere nearly as well as we saw them. Dan and I took a few photos of the nearby church that I mentioned earlier and we took off for the airport.

We had a mid morning flight to Santa Marta which we made in plenty of time. Unfortunately Dan could not continue with us, so Ever took him to the international terminal for his flight back to the states, after dropping us at the domestic terminal. We were very sad to see Dan go. The first part of the trip had been very good, but we were extremely excited for the second section and wished Dan could have shared it with us. Our short flight went well, other than a lack of air conditioning. Maybe this was Avianca Air’s way of acclimating us to the coastal heat.

The landing was spectacular! The run way was parallel to the beach. Brown Pelicans were skimming the surf. The water was cobalt blue. Martin saw a frigate bird. We picked up our luggage and walked outside, where we met our new driver, Jaime. It was obvious we were not in the Andes any more. The heat and humidity was a huge change. Bogota always seemed to be a little gray and misty. Santa Marta was more than sunny. The biggest change was the traffic. I think it’s a requirement that you lay on your horn the entire time you drive. Stop lights and signs seemed to be more of a suggestion than a law. On top of all this, they like traffic circles. It was utter chaos!

We ate a great lunch at an open air restaurant near the airport, and headed east towards Riohacha. We stopped along the way at a restaurant that sat by a river. Pablo had seen hummingbirds in a tree next to the building, but it was not to be this time. We did have a flock of Brown-throated Parakeets. We moved on to a dry scrub forest, where we added Scaled Dove, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Black-crested Antshrike and White-fringed Antwren. We got into Riohacha right after dusk. Our hotel was a block from the beach with a great view of the Caribbean. I was also excited to actually get to buy something! Two indigenous women were sitting on the steps of the hotel making traditional bags. I did a little bartering (very little actually) and got a bag that I adore!

Photos from the day:

Bird List:

1 Great Blue Heron
2 Cattle Egret
3 Great Egret
4 Black-crowned Night-Heron
5 Black Vulture
6 Andean Ruddy Duck
7 Speckled Teal
8 Blue-winged Teal
9 Bogotá Rail
10 Common Moorhen
11 Spot-flanked Gallinule
12 American Coot
13 Wilson's Snipe
14 Noble Snipe
15 Eared Dove
16 Tropical Kingbird
17 Brown-bellied Swallow
18 Tropical Mockingbird
19 Great Thrush
20 Black-billed Thrush
21 Rufous-collared Sparrow
22 Beryl-spangled Tanager
23 Blue-and-black Tanager
24 Eastern Meadowlark
25 Brown Pelican
26 Turkey Vulture
27 Short-tailed Hawk
28 Scaly Dove
29 White-tipped Dove
30 Brown-throated Parakeet
31 Blue-headed Parrot
32 Black-backed Antshrike
33 Mouse-colored Tyrannulet
34 Northern Scrub-Flycatcher
35 Bicolored Cactus-Wren
36 Rufous-browed Peppershrike
37 Scrub Greenlet

Sheridan Coffey
San Antonio, Tx

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 5, Dec. 10 Ever, You Don't Have to Follow Me!

We began day 5 with a very happy reunion. Pablo Florez, our guide from our first trip had finished the tour he was doing and joined Oswaldo for the last day and a half of the Bogota portion of the trip. Pablo would be our guide for the last week of the trip to Santa Marta . We were also joined by a friend of Oswaldo. We were heading up to the Monteredando reserve outside of Bogota to look for several endemics, including Cundinamarca Antpitta.

As we drove up the mountain road Oswaldo discussed the trail. We had two choices, a very steep short trail, or a very long level trail. I was still struggling a little bit with my ankle, along with my bad knees and balance issues. I told the group I would be happy to stay on the road by the van and bird there while they did the shorter steep trail, even though it would mean missing the antpitta. Martin asked me several times if I was sure and I was. I hated the idea of missing a bird, but I had been feeling like a drag for the group, so I thought it would be better all around.

They headed up hill and I started wandering up and down the road, seeing what I could find on my own. I actually did pretty well. I found a flock of tanagers and even was able to photograph a Saffron-crowned and a Beryl Spangled. I spotted several hawks, a pair of Roadsides and a White-rumped Hawk. A flock of Flame-winged Parakeets flew through the valley below me. (These had been a big favorite on our previous trip) But all was not completely smooth.

Our driver Ever had stayed below with me. As soon as I walked around the corner on the road and he couldn’t see me, he would follow me, usually talking on his mobile phone. I know he was feeling protective of me, which was very sweet, but it did make birding a little more difficult. I didn’t want to say anything, as he was being very nice, but I did not feel like I needed protecting! It was still very pleasant. The weather was perfect. I found a few butterflies to photograph.

It seemed like the group was gone a long time. It was close to lunch time when they finally came down. They did not look happy at all. The antpitta had been within 10 feet of them, calling its head off, but they never saw it. They never even saw a twig move! It actually happened a couple of times. I felt badly for them. I count heard birds, but Martin and Dan don’t. We ate a snack and then started looking for some of the other birds found in the area.

We worked our way back down hill in search of Ochre-breasted Brush-finch. We heard a couple, but never could get them to show themselves. It was a bit frustrating, to say the least. Then, very close to the road, we heard the Cundinamarca Antpitta calling! It was as close as the one up the hill had been, but again we never saw anything indicating the bird was there. I do have to admit I was secretly happy to have heard it, but I tried not to show it, as Martin and Dan were not able to count it. We did finally get great looks the brush-finches. A flock of Flame-winged Parakeets landed right above us. We also had a few of my favorite hummingbirds, Booted Racket-tail, Long-tailed Sylph and Collared Inca.

We started back to Bogota , hoping to find some flowering trees to look for more hummingbirds. It was getting late in the afternoon when we stopped in Guayabetal, a small town. We walked behind a restaurant and found a beautiful tree with brilliant orange flowers. Our “friends” the violetears, were working in the flowers. Then we saw one of our targets, Green-bellied Hummingbird. A few tanagers and honey-creepers joined the hummers. Some local kids came up and stood with us, asking questions. We let them use our binoculars and Martin set up the scope for them. They all seemed to be enthralled. We talked about the bird life of Colombia and in their area. A few adults joined them. It was a really pleasant interval!.

We finished up, stopped for some fresh arapes, and headed back to Bogota. Again, we didn't have a huge list for the day, but the quality was definitely there!

Pictures for the day:

Bird List:

1 Cattle Egret

2 Great Egret

3 Turkey Vulture

4 Black Vulture

5 Roadside Hawk

6 White-rumped Hawk

7 Eared Dove

8 White-tipped Dove

9 Flame-winged Parakeet

10 Spectacled Parrotlet

11 Short-tailed Swift

12 Green Violet-ear

13 Sparkling Violetear

14 Black-throated Mango

15 Green-bellied Hummingbird

16 White-vented Plumeleteer

17 Bronzy Inca

18 Collared Inca

19 Booted Racquet-tail

20 Tyrian Metaltail

21 Long-tailed Sylph

22 Montane Woodcreeper

23 Cundinamarca Antpitta

24 Chestnut-crowned Antpitta

25 Blackish Tapaculo

26 Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet

27 White-throated Tyrannulet

28 Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant

29 Streak-necked Flycatcher

30 Olive-striped Flycatcher

31 Cinnamon Flycatcher

32 Black Phoebe

33 Social Flycatcher

34 Tropical Kingbird

35 Blue-and-white Swallow

36 Sharpe's Wren

37 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren

38 Tropical Mockingbird

39 Andean Solitaire

40 Great Thrush

41 Black-billed Thrush

42 Green Jay

43 Rufous-collared Sparrow

44 Saffron Finch

45 Ochre-breasted Brushfinch

46 Rose-breasted Grosbeak

47 Common Bush-Tanager

48 Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager

49 Silver-beaked Tanager

50 Blue-grey Tanager

51 Palm Tanager

52 Blue-capped Tanager

53 White-lored Euphonia

54 Saffron-crowned Tanager

55 Metallic-green Tanager

56 Beryl-spangled Tanager

57 Blue-and-black Tanager

58 Purple Honeycreeper

59 Rusty Flowerpiercer

60 White-sided Flowerpiercer

61 Bananaquit

62 Tropical Parula

63 Blackburnian Warbler

64 Slate-throated Redstart

65 Three-striped Warbler

66 Philadelphia Vireo

67 Lesser Goldfinch

68 Russet-backed Oropendola

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day Four. No, you don’t want two tamales.

We got up in the dark to get an early start for the Niceforo’s Wren. We figured it would be more likely to respond at first light. I, unfortunately, did not download the song on my iPod, so Oswaldo and Dan went to a great deal of trouble to get it on Dan’s lap top. We got some coffee at a tiny corner shop and headed down hill to the riparian area we had finished at the evening before.

We arrived in a brushy area with fast flowing water where Oswaldo had heard the wren in the past. In fact, there had been in a nest at one time in one of the over hanging trees. We played the call and eventually heard the bird briefly. We worked our way down the creek a little ways, closer to the call. The bird did not seem to be responding to the recording very well. Martin worked his way in even closer and started imitating the call and the bird responded to him! We all finally got at least a brief look, our third critically endangered species in less than 24 hours.

We went back to the area where we had all the hummingbirds the evening before. We had hoped to get some decent photos of the saberwing and the Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird. The hummers were a bit more dispersed, and though we saw both species, they were not hanging around. It was a bit of a steep climb back up, so I decided to start back ahead of everyone. I had also noticed a lot of butterflies as we were working our way down, so I wanted to see if I could get some photos. I was able to get a few decent shots, in spite of the dark conditions. I was just getting to the area where the van was, when Martin, Dan and Oswaldo arrived. We lucked out with the Bicolored Wren, getting much better looks at that wren than we got of the Niceforo’s.

We went back into town for breakfast and to pack up to go back to Bogota . We stopped at a small restaurant. Oswaldo recommended the tamales. Martin and I asked if we should get a couple. Ever, our driver, who could really eat, looked at us like we were nuts. We each ordered one. It was a good thing! The tamale was almost the size of a football. (Well, that’s maybe a slight exaggeration) It came wrapped in banana leaves and was full of all kinds of stuff, garbanzo beans, chicken, pork and who knows what else. I really enjoyed it, though Dan, who is vegetarian, wasn’t crazy about it. We went back to the hotel.

I spent some time outside in the park across from the hotel while waiting for everyone to finish packing. Even here I found some birds, including a Scrub Tanager and the ubiquitous Blue-gray Tanagers. Oswaldo told me he had seen Chestnut-bellied Hummingbirds here in the past, but I had no luck with them. I also took some photos of the town, which I found very charming. The church was particularly lovely.

We were heading back to Bogota for two nights, but we had a stop to make on the way. Outside of the city there is a wonderful wetland, Lago de Fuquene. There was yet another wren, Apolinar’s, a type of marsh wren that we really wanted to see. It’s an endemic, with an very restricted range. I did have this call on my iPod. We pulled up; I played the call and one jumped right out, ready to kick my butt! Unfortunately the reeds were across some water, so I was not able to get a photo. We added a few more species here, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Spot-flanked Gallinule and Sora. Barn Swallows swarmed over the water. Our list for the day is not long, but we were very happy with what we saw. We got back into Bogota after dark and checked back into the Casona del Patio, where we stayed for two nights. Pablo was meeting us in the morning to continue with us for the rest of the trip.

Photos for this day:

Bird list for the day:

1 Cattle Egret

2 Great Egret

3 Turkey Vulture

4 Black Vulture

5 Broad-winged Hawk

6 Sora

7 Spot-flanked Gallinule

8 American Coot

9 Eared Dove

10 White-tipped Dove

11 Smooth-billed Ani

12 Striped Cuckoo

13 White-tipped Swift

14 Lazuline Sabrewing

15 Sparkling Violetear

16 Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird

17 Silvery-throated Spinetail

18 Bar-crested Antshrike

19 Mountain Elaenia

20 White-throated Tyrannulet

21 Tropical Kingbird

22 Blue-and-white Swallow

23 Barn Swallow

24 Bicolored Cactus-Wren

25 Short-billed Marsh-Wren

26 Apolinar's Marsh-Wren

27 NicÈforo's Wren

28 Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush

29 Rufous-collared Sparrow

30 Streaked Saltator

31 Golden-rumped Euphonia

32 Scrub Tanager

33 Brown-capped Vireo

34 Yellow-backed Oriole

35 Yellow-hooded Blackbird

36 Eastern Meadowlark

37 Apical Flycatcher

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 3 Who Would Ever Believe We Were Looking for Grackles?

We assumed that the fireworks were over the night before. We were wrong. At 4:00 AM another loud boom shook our room. They really like fireworks in Soata! It was not really a problem, as we needed to get a very early start. Our target bird, Mountain Grackle, is most easily seen before the sun hits the tree tops above Soata.

Mountain Grackle is an extremely range restricted species and it is on the critically endangered list. It was one of our most wanted species for the trip and Oswaldo is one of the best guides in Colombia for finding it. Most locations for them require a long grueling hike. Oswaldo has a location where they can be seen from the road. The bird resembles our Common Grackle, but has a chestnut wing patch and wing lining. It’s also a bit smaller. It’s kind of hard to explain to a non-birder why we were so keen to see grackles!

The drive up the mountain was a bit long and twisting. We passed a girl on horseback that had a pack full of rockets, taking them higher for that evening’s fireworks. We finally got to an area where the grackles are seen regularly. The land was a mix of forest and farm land. We listened and scanned the tree tops, but had no luck. We climbed a bit higher and found Moustached Brush-finches, which we had missed the day before. A few Tyrian Metaltails worked the flowers.

We then heard the unmistakable calling of the grackles. A hand full of birds flew into the tree tops just down the road from us. We rushed over, and caught brief looks. The birds then flew down the hill to where we had been earlier. We jumped back in the car and retraced our steps. We parked where we thought they had flown, but couldn’t find them. Dan and Martin walked quickly down hill, hoping to intercept them. I was lagging behind. I heard some calling and looked up to see several grackles fly into the tree directly above me. I signaled Martin and they hurried back up. We were able to get much better looks and even a couple of really crummy photos!

We drove back up higher, hoping to find some other good birds. We started walking from the area where we had been earlier. A young farmer and two of his sons walked towards us, the boys driving two calves with little sticks. Oswaldo greeted them and told us the farmer owned the land and was working to preserve it for the grackles. He told Oswaldo that his wife would make coffee for us, if we stopped at his house, further up the hill. Dan and I were all for that! Unfortunately when we arrived she was away from the house, so we moved on.

There was some wonderful forest over the pass past the house. We stopped on and off, playing a pygmy owl tape, but really didn’t get much response. We speculated that the warm sun was keeping the birds low. I did see a good number of butterflies at several stream crossings. We returned the way we came and passed the farmer’s house. He and his wife were both at home, so we stopped and happily accepted the coffee. His sons, initially shy, warmed up to us and the youngest even posed for photos. Martin gave the farmer a donation towards preserving the forest. We started back toward town.

There are two other critically endangered species found near Soata, Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird and Niceforo’s Wren. There is a spot near the edge of town where both have been reported, a lovely creek with flowering trees along it. We stopped and very quickly found the hummingbird. The wren, which is extremely secretive, was not calling. As we were scanning we noticed an SUV that drove by a couple of times. The driver finally stopped. He was the mayor and wanted to discuss ecotourism in his town. He was aware of the birds found near town and wanted to see what he could do to promote it. I asked if I could take his photo, and he was not even slightly camera shy!

It was getting a bit late in the afternoon, but we still had some light, so we went to an area with an over-grown creek on the other side of town. We picked our way along a narrow path, listening intently for the Niceforo’s Wren. We dipped on one side, so we took a trail on the other. We still didn’t find the wren, but came across an Apical Flycatcher. Then we spotted a field with trees along one edge that were flowering. We could hear sparring violetears. We climbed up a stony embankment and walked over the trees. I saw a longer-winged hummingbird feeding lower than the violetears. It had a rusty colored tail, a Lazuline Saberwing! We picked out several, though the violetears made it difficult, as they continually harassed them. We also found a couple of Chestnut-bellied Hummingbirds. This made not seeing the wren a little easier.

We trudged back up the hill to the car, hearing, but not seeing, Bicolored Wrens. They had a nest on top of a box on a utility pole. We worked the edge of the scrub, but had only a few common birds, so we packed it up and headed back to the Hotel International for the night, just as the fireworks started again.

Pictures from this day can be seen at :

Species list:

1 Turkey Vulture
2 Black Vulture
3 White-throated Hawk
4 American Kestrel
5 Band-tailed Pigeon
6 Eared Dove
7 Smooth-billed Ani
8 Striped Cuckoo
9 Lazuline Sabrewing
10 Sparkling Violetear
11 Short-tailed Emerald
12 Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird
13 Amethyst-throated Sunangel
14 Tyrian Metaltail
15 Crimson-mantled Woodpecker
16 Montane Woodcreeper
17 Silvery-throated Spinetail
18 Rufous-rumped Tapaculo
19 Mountain Elaenia
20 White-throated Tyrannulet
21 Cinnamon Flycatcher
22 Smoke-colored Pewee
23 Tropical Kingbird
24 Bicolored Cactus-Wren
25 House Wren
26 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren
27 Great Thrush
28 Black-billed Thrush
29 Green Jay
30 Rufous-collared Sparrow
31 Pale-naped Brushfinch
32 Moustached Brushfinch
33 Common Bush-Tanager
34 Summer Tanager
35 Blue-capped Tanager
36 Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager
37 Scrub Tanager
38 Black Flowerpiercer
39 Tennessee Warbler
40 Tropical Parula
41 Blackburnian Warbler
42 Slate-throated Redstart
43 Golden-fronted Whitestart
44 Brown-capped Vireo
45 Yellow-backed Oriole
46 Colombian Mountain Grackle

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 2, December 7. They Should be called Sparkling VIOLENT Ears!

Colombia , Day 2

They Should Be Called Sparkling VIOLENT Ears!

We began our day at the delightful private reserve, Rogitama. Located between Bogota and Soata, which was our next destination, this is the best spot to see one of our targets, Black Inca, an endemic hummingbird. Oswaldo had told us several times that the Inca was extremely easy to see. He called it a “pet” at the reserve. Lazuline Saberwing, a near endemic, was supposed to be almost as easy to see. The reserve is known as a great spot for photography. We were really jazzed!

There was a little time before breakfast, so Oswaldo led us into a secluded area of the garden. He showed us the preferred flowers of the Black Inca. The sun was just breaking the horizon and it was a bit chilly. Hummingbirds were already zipping around. In fact it was rather chaotic, with a lot of chasing. We started focusing on the birds, calling out “Sparkling Violetear, another Sparkling Violetear, oh yeah, ANOTHER Sparkling Violetear!” It appeared that every single bird was a Sparkling Violetear. There was no sign of any Black Incas or Lazuline Saberwings. Violetears are very aggressive, and it appeared that they were keeping any other visitors away. Oswaldo said that the Incas were playing the coquette.

We ate a great breakfast of incredible fresh fruit, yogurt and granola and headed back out. We circled the gardens around the house repeatedly. There still were only Violetears. Finally a Black Inca appeared low in a bush in the area we had started birding in earlier. We even were able to get a couple of poor photos. Then a violetear found it and chased it off. That took some pressure off, but we still wanted to see more. We found a couple more Incas, all perched low and inside bushes, limiting photography opportunities. There was no sign of any Saberwings. Oswaldo showed us a porch on the second floor of the building where flowers were on eye level. An occasional Inca fed on the flowers, but the violetears still caused a lot of problems. I was finally able to get a semi-good picture, but still not what I wanted. We also managed a few other species of hummers, Short-tailed Emerald, Speckled Hummingbird and White-bellied Woodstar.

There is a tract of oak forest on the reserve, which we wanted to check out. Our original plan was to drive up, but Roberto, the owner of the preserve, said it was only 500 meters to the forest, and we would see a lot more if we walked. Martin whispered to me that he bet that it would be a heck of lot farther. We started through the fields and I struggled a bit. The ground was uneven and there were fallen logs and branches under tall grass. I am still being overly cautious due to my ankle, so it was slow going. I hated the feeling that I was holding everyone back.

We saw a few birds along the way, a Silvery-throated Spinetail, some Yellow-breasted Brushfinches, Swainson’s Thrush, Tennessee and Blackburnian Warblers and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. It is always fun to see “our” birds in South America . We got excited when we found a patch of seeding bamboo, but there was nothing of note feeding there. Martin was right, as usual. It seemed we had walked a lot farther than 500 meters! Oswaldo called Evar and he picked us up in the van and took us to a field, where we could finally see the forest, which still appeared to be over 500 meters away!

The van had to stay at the gate, so we walked on. We crossed a beautiful little stream. There were some dragonflies, so Martin immediately lost his bird focus and started taking pictures. I was equally preoccupied with some butterflies, puddling on the edge. Dan walked ahead and called out that he thought he had a potoo. There was a dead tree in the pasture and sure enough, at the top of the left fork, we could see a dark form, head pointing up and tail draped down the side of the trunk. He and I went a little closer and scanned. It looked good. We went a little closer, still good. We made the mistake of going still closer and darn if it wasn’t a “feature of the tree”. The moral of this story is “Don’t go closer!”

We had another long drive ahead of us to Soata, so we returned to the house for lunch and packed up. We had a stop scheduled on our way, which I was not exactly ecstatic about, the paramo. If you have read my blogs before, you know that the paramo is the habitat above the tree line. It is invariably cold, rainy and not exactly what you think of with tropical birding. There is a very interesting community of birds there. Martin loves the paramo. I am not as big a fan. I put on some layers, got my raincoat out and tried be cheerful. Actually I am lying. I wasn’t even trying to be cheerful.

As we climbed higher I realized that something was wrong. The sun was out. The temperature was not unpleasant. It wasn’t even windy! What had they done with the paramo? We pulled off the main highway onto a side road. We cruised along searching for blooming flowers. We were looking for hummingbirds. Unfortunately not much was blooming and there was very little activity of any kind. We managed to find a Sedge Wren, some spinetails and a Sierra Finch. I guess the trade off for the good weather was a lack of birds.

The rest of the road to Soata was long and winding. We arrived just at sunset. As we piled our gear in our hotel room, we heard a large booming noise. I looked out the door and saw fireworks to the west. Then there was another boom and saw more fireworks to the east. Soon they were going off all around us. They were marking the beginning of the Christmas season. As we walked to the restaurant for dinner we saw candles being lit all along the street by the people sitting in their door ways and walking along the street. The fireworks continued sporadically.

We ordered our food at a small restaurant. The woman behind the counter had two small girls, maybe four or five years old. They were extremely excited with the all of the festivities going on, going back and forth between the street and the back where their mom was cooking. At one point they both ran in with lit candles. Dan commented “That doesn’t seem like such a good idea!” After dinner when we left we saw the two girls sitting in a doorway with a line of lit candles sitting on a piece of cardboard. Hmmm. Cardboard, lit candles, small children. We speculated if the town would last the night. The fireworks continued until about 11:00 PM. Thank goodness for ear plugs!

The town did not burn down. We actually got some sleep. The next day was a big one. We had three critically endangered birds to seek out.

Pictures from this day.

Bird List

1 Cattle Egret

2 Great Egret

3 Black Vulture

4 White-tailed Kite

5 Roadside Hawk

6 American Kestrel

7 Eared Dove

8 Smooth-billed Ani

9 Sparkling Violetear

10 Short-tailed Emerald

11 Speckled Hummingbird

12 Black Inca

13 Tyrian Metaltail

14 White-bellied Woodstar

15 Crimson-mantled Woodpecker

16 Azara's Spinetail

17 Silvery-throated Spinetail

18 Black-capped Tyrannulet

19 Golden-faced Tyrannulet

20 Mountain Elaenia

21 White-throated Tyrannulet

22 Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant

23 Tropical Kingbird

24 Brown-bellied Swallow

25 Short-billed Marsh-Wren

26 House Wren

27 Grey-breasted Wood-Wren

28 Tropical Mockingbird

29 Swainson's Thrush

30 Great Thrush

31 Rufous-collared Sparrow

32 Plumbeous Sierra-Finch

33 Rufous-naped Brushfinch

34 Rose-breasted Grosbeak

35 Summer Tanager

36 Blue-grey Tanager

37 Blue-capped Tanager

38 White-sided Flowerpiercer

39 Black Flowerpiercer

40 Tennessee Warbler

41 Blackburnian Warbler

42 Slate-throated Redstart

43 Brown-capped Vireo

44 Yellow-backed Oriole

45 Eastern Meadowlark

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Colombia, The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay


Martin and I returned for two weeks of birding in Colombia , joined by our good friend Dan Peak for the first part of the trip. We spent 5 days in the area surrounding Bogota and then flew to the Santa Marta region on the Caribbean coast for the remainder of our time. Our emphasis was on quality vs. quantity, concentrating on endemic and near endemic species. We had an extremely successful trip, thanks to our incredible guides, Oswaldo Cortez and Pablo Florez. Pablo had guided us on our great trip in August, and made all of our arrangements. The title of this report is the new slogan for Colombia ’s tourism agency. I found it absolutely true.

December 6

We arrived in Bogota late on December 5, so our birding began early on December 6. Our guide, Oswaldo Cortez, met us before 5:00 AM at our hotel, Casona del Patio. We were delighted to see that our driver was Evar, who had driven us in Bogota on our previous trip. We packed up quickly and headed to Laguna Pedropalo, in the Eastern Andes, north of Bogota . This is one of the best sites to see Turquiose Dacnis. There is a reserve, but all of the birds found can be found along the road, where it is easy to walk.

One of the many things that I find charming about Colombia is that many people walk for fun. It’s not unusual to see families strolling together on quiet country roads on weekend. This can be a bit of a negative when birding, due to conversation, but I am so happy to see families together that it’s easy to tolerate. Being a Sunday, there were quite a few people. Despite this, we did manage to see quite a few birds. One of the first life birds I got here was an Indigo-capped Hummingbird. We also scored on Short-tailed Emerald. A Yellow-backed Oriole sang incessantly. We scanned the lake, which was visible from the road, but only saw a couple of Pied-billed Grebes.

We worked our way up the road, driving a bit, then birding, and then driving a bit more. We reached an area where we stood above the trees. We were all looking in different directions, when Martin called out “Male Turquoise Dacnis! He was trying to get it in the scope, as I ran over. Unfortunately the bird flew. We spent quite a long time searching both the tree it was in, and a group of trees in the direction it had flown. Despite playing a tape of its song we never re-found the bird. Needless to say, we were a bit disappointed.

We started working our way back down the road, when a middle aged lady and three young girls, possibly her grand daughters, passed us. The woman turned back to talk, asking us where we were from and what we were looking for. She spoke some English and we limped along with our limited Spanish. (I should say MY extremely limited Spanish. Martin does pretty well) She surprised us all by insisting that we accompany her and the girls to her finca (farm) for coffee. It was very close, just around the corner. Dan and I were both jonesing for caffeine, so we were delighted to take her up on it. The coffee was incredibly good. Martin doesn’t drink coffee, so she had her kitchen girl make him a glass of fresh blackberry juice, known as mora. This was the first of many times on this trip that we were deeply impressed by the open friendliness of the Colombian people.

One of the downsides of birding near Bogota , is that the birding locations can be quite distant from each other. This area of Colombia is very developed, with excellent roads and a very “civilized” country-side. The farms would look in place in any green, hilly area of the United States . Patches of forest are widely separated. We had a long drive to our next location, Rogitama Reserve, so we took off shortly after noon for the long drive. We arrived right at sunset. After a wonderful dinner, Oswaldo took us out to look for White-throated Screech Owl. Unfortunately we did not have a proper spot light and Martin’s flashlight was not able to pick out the bird, though we did hear it calling quite close. More about Rogitama and its famous "pet", the Black Inca.

Here is a link to my photos:

Here is our bird list for the day:
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 Sooty-headed 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

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Colombia Day 7 Aug. 29. It had to be Paramo...

We got up and started preparing for the day. As I mentioned before the paramo is cold, so layers are really important. Its also wet, so waterproof is good. I waddled out to the minivan Pablo hired for the day and we took off. I was happy to hear that we actually would be birding a wetland area outside of Bogota and some upland forest along the road to Chingaza National Park before we did the actual paramo. Unfortunately the weather was already acting like paramo, cold and wet.

Our first stop was brief at some ponds along the road where we quickly picked up Spot-flanked Gallinule. We tried for Bogota Rail with no luck. There was heavy traffic on the road, so sound didn’t carry far. We then drove to Guasca, a small nearby town and had a great breakfast at an amazing bakery. We actually picked up a trip bird in town, Giant Cowbird! Yea! The rain continued.

The road to the forest was lined with picturesque farms. Even the simplest homes had beautiful flowers and well kept yards. When we entered the entrance road to the forest there was a definite increase in steepness. It was a really beautiful area. Our first stop produced a Black-billed Mountain Toucan, a bird I had only seen silhouetted in deep fog in Ecuador. Martin got a great photo. This bird was also of a different race, the near endemic all black-billed race. It was a good start. Unfortunately the rain was still coming down pretty hard.

We made a couple of other short stops with very few birds. I have to admit thinking “I could just as easily not see birds someplace warm and dry”. I also noticed Pablo was not looking very well. I pulled him aside and he admitted to being ill, but he wanted to continue. We encouraged him to stay in the van and rest whenever possible, and we would bird on our own. He was rather chilled, so we bundled him up and went on. The cold rain was certainly not doing him any good.

Then things started changing for the better. Hummingbirds were showing up everywhere! There were a lot of flowering shrubs in the forest, which was becoming more stunted as we gained altitude. We saw species that were not new to us, like Tyrian Metaltail and Glowing Puffleg,, but then we started picking up some new ones. Martin found a Coppery-bellied Puffleg. Then we had a Blue-throated Starfront. Both of these birds are near endemics, only being found in Venezuela near the border in an area that is rather risky. Dan saw a hummingbird with a thin white collar under the throat, it was a Longuemare's Sunangel, another target bird. The rest of us caught up with this species a bit later.

Hummingbirds were not the only stars of the show. Rufous-browed Conebills showed well. Matorral Tapaculo, an endemic, actually flew back and forth across the road in front of us, very atypical for a Tapaculo! We had both Hooded and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanagers. A Rufous Wren put on a good show. Several of the common species of flowerpiercers were working the same flowers as the hummingbirds. We got great looks at the local race of Golden-fronted Whitestart, with is very white face.

There was a possibility of seeing a pyrrhura parakeet that goes by two different names, Brown-chested and Flame-winged. We laughed about the totally different impression these two names give. Brown-chested Parakeet, yawn, or FLAME-WINGED PARAKEET! Ta da! This is another difficult bird to find, but we had done well with some others in this category, so we kept up hope. As we were heading back down we heard parakeets calling and there they were! A small flock flew over us and a couple landed in a distant tree, where we scoped them. That was great. We played the i-Pod, trying to get them to return. Our luck was even better when several flew by very close and perched! They really deserve the name Flame-winged, as you can see from Martin’s photo.

We left the woods after lunch and headed to the paramo. As we were driving we passed another army check point. The soldiers were super friendly, reaching in and shaking our hands saying “Mucho gusto!” We gave them some of our left over pastries from the bakery, which certainly didn’t hurt. Even better, the weather had cleared some and it was actually not too uncomfortable. Pablo was definitely better, which was a big relief.

We looked for the small flowers that hummingbirds like and found a patch. We got out and searched, but didn’t see our target. We moved on a little farther and tried again. We walked up a little way into the stunted bushes that cover the paramo and I saw a hummingbird shoot overhead. I called out and everyone got on it as it dove into a shrub not far from Martin. We got an ok look at it and it was a Bronze-tailed Thornbill. Of course we wanted more. We tried for quite a while to find it, but it must have shot out the back of the bush to another area. It was our final life bird of the trip! We headed back to Bogota and Crepes and Waffles for a celebratory dinner.

Colombia exceeded all of our expectations. It’s spectacularly beautiful. The people are among the most friendly I have met anywhere in Latin America, which is saying a lot. Most of the roads are very good and all are amazingly clean. There was almost no litter at all. One thing that really impressed me was the condition of the animals there. I never saw unhealthy stray dogs, which are unfortunately common in most other areas south of the border. The food is very good, even in the small towns. The water is very clean in the cities, though as in any country, its better to be safe than sorry. And then there are the birds…I highly recommend birding here. As I said in my first day report, it’s safe now.

Here are links to Martin and my photos
My birds
If for some reason the links don’t work, Martin’s photos can be found at under places.
My photos are at

Here is our total trip list, thanks to Martin Reid

Bird List:
ROM = La Romera on the southeast side of Medellin.
BOL = roadside stops near Bolombolo part-way between Medellin and Jardin.
JAL = above Jardin.
RBL = Rio Blanco.
RUI = Nevado del Ruiz.
OTU = Otun (i.e. La Suiza – El Cedral).
FLO = stops below La Florida (close to Otun), above Pereira.
GAL = Galapagos Road (i.e. San Jose – El Palmar road) near El Cairo
CAR = stops in the lowlands just west of Cartago.
GUA = Paramo Guasca (i.e. paramo prior to Chingaza NP, plus nearby treeline forests).

Endemics and Near-Endemics (including subspecies) are in bold type. Other birds of interest are underlined.

Torrent Duck Merganetta armata 2 adults + 3 ducklings, FLO
Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris 2 RUI, 3 GUA
Masked Duck Nomonyx dominicus 1 CAR
Colombian/Ruddy Duck Oxyura andina/jamaicensis 3 RUI, 1 GUA
Sickle-winged Guan Chamaepetes goudotii 1 ROM (Sheridan and Dan)
Andean Guan Penelope montagnii 4 GUA
Cauca Guan Penelope perspicax 2 OTU
[Chestnut Wood-Quail Odontophorus hyperythrus] heard only at RBL, OTU, and GAL
Pied-billed Grebe Podylimbus podiceps 1 GUA
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax 1 CAR, 1 GUA
Striated Heron Butorides striata 1 BOL, 3+ CAR
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis fairly common throughout
Great Egret Ardea alba 1 CAR
Snowy Egret Egretta thula a few BOL
Green Ibis Mesembrinibis cayennensis a pair flew over the Cauca River bridge, CAR
Bare-faced Ibis Phimosus infuscatus 12+ FLO, 4 CAR
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura daily
Black Vulture Coragyps stratus daily
Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus singles, plus flock of 65 GAL
Pearl Kite Gampsonyx swainsonii 1 on drive from Jardin to Rio Blanco
Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis 3 CAR
Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea 12 in loose group migrating through RBL
Barred Hawk Leucopternis princeps 1 GAL
Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris singles at five locations
Ornate Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus ornatus a pair display-fighting GAL
Yellow-headed Caracara Milvago chimachima a few on drive from Jardin to Rio Blanco
American Kestrel Falco sparverius 1 GUA
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus a few GUA
Spot-flanked Gallinule Gallinula melanops bogotensis 4 GUA
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica a few CAR
American Coot Fulica americana a few GUA
Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis common in human-altered habitats
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus 2 CAR
Wattled Jacana Jacana jacana 10+ CAR
Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti common throughout
Rock Pigeon Columba livia common in towns
Band-tailed Pigeon Patagioenas fasciata common in temperate area
Ruddy Pigeon Patagioenas subvinacea 1 BOL
Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata common
White-tipped Dove Leptotila verrauxi 2 GAL
Yellow-eared Parrot Ognorhynchus icterotis 16 in four groups, all in flight JAR
[Scarlet-fronted Parakeet Aratinga wagleri] heard only BOL (oddly scarce, apparently)
Golden-plumed Parakeet Leptosittaca branickii 4 flew in and landed OTU
Flame-winged Parakeet Pyrrhura calliptera 16 in two groups, some perched GUA
Barred Parakeet Bolborhynchus lineola 12 in flock high over JAR
Rufous-fronted Parakeet Bolborhynchus ferrungineifrons 8 in flock RUI
Spectacled Parrotlet Forpus conspicillatus 1 in flight CAR (Martin & Pablo)
Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis small group in Manizales; heard in Medellin
Blue-headed Parrot Pionus menstruus a few BOL and CAR
Speckle-faced/White-crowned Parrot Pionus tumultuosus 2 RBL
Bronze-winged Parrot Pionus chalcopterus a few BOL and OTU
Scaly-naped Parrot Amazona mercenaria a few RBL
Squirrel Cuckoo Paiya cayana 1 BOL (Sheridan), 1 CAR (Sheridan, Dan)
Smooth -billed Ani Crotophaga ani fairly common in farmland
[Tropical Screech-Owl Megascops choliba] heard only, at hotel in El Cairo (Martin)
White-throated Screech-Owl Megascops albogularis 1 seen, five heard RBL
[Rufous-banded Owl Ciccaba albitarsus] 1 heard only RBL
[Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl Gaucidium nubicola] heard only by Sheridan and Dan, GAL
Band-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus longirostris singles at dawn/dusk on road JAR, OTU, GAL
Lyre-tailed Nightjar Uropsalis lyra a male JAR; a female GAL
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutila small flock ROM
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris small numbers ROM and GAL
Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicaudus two of the western form GAL
?Sick’s Swift Chaetura meridionalis? While hiding from a shower at lunch at La Suiza we saw four Chaetura swifts fairly close that looked very like meridionalis to me (shortish-tailed, long pale rear-end from above; very dark below with very pale throat and slightly paler ventral area) – I saw meridionalis in Brazil the previous November.
Tawny-bellied Hermit Phaethornis syrmatophorus a couple at OTU and GAL
Wedge-billed Hummingbird Schistes geoffroyi 1 GAL (Sheridan and Dan)
Green Violetear Colibri thalassinus a few RBL
Sparkling Violetear Colibri coruscans 1 RBL, 1 GUA
Longuemare’s Sunangel Heliangelus clarisse 3 GUA
Tourmaline Sunangel Heliangelus exortis a few JAR and RBL
Speckled Hummingbird Adelomyia melanogenys a couple RBL
Long-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus kingi a couple RBL
Violet-tailed Sylph Aglaiocercus coelestis a few GAL
Bronze-tailed Thornbill Chalcostigma heteropogon 1 GUA
Bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon guerinii two males and a female RUI
Tyrian Metaltail Metallura tyrianthina uncommon RBL, RUI and GUA
Viridian Metaltail Metallura williami 1 RUI
Greenish Puffleg Halpophaedia aureliae 1 ROM, 3 GAL
Glowing Puffleg Eriocnemis vestita 3 GUA
Black-thighed Puffleg Eriocnemis derbyi 1 RUI
Coppery-bellied Puffleg Eriocnemis cupreoventris 2 GUA
Shining Sunbeam Aglaeactis cupripennis 1 RUI
Bronzy Inca Coeligena coeligena 1 ROM, 1 OTU
Brown Inca Coeligena wilsoni 3 GAL
Collared Inca Coeligena torquata fairly common RBL
Blue-throated Starfrontlet Coeligena helianthea 3 GUA
Mountain Velvetbreast Lafresnaya lafresnayi 1 JAR
Sword-billed Hummingbird Ensifera ensifera 1 JAR
Buff-tailed Coronet Boissonneaua flavescens common RBL
Velvet-purple Coronet Boissonneaua jardini common GAL
Booted Racket-tail Ocreatus underwoodi 3 GAL
White-tailed Hillstar Urochroa bougeri fairly common GAL (western form with tawny malar)
Fawn-breasted Brilliant Heliodoxa rubinoides a few at feeders, RBL
Empress Brilliant Heliodoxa imperatrix a few GAL
White-bellied Woodstar Chaetocercus mulsant a couple at feeders RBL
Purple-throated Woodstar Calliphlox mitchellii a few GAL
Western Emerald Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus 1 OTU
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl 1 BOL, 1 road from Jardin to Rio Blanco
Andean Emerald Amazilia franciae 1 GAL
Steely-vented Hummingbird Amazilia saucerrottei 1 GAL
[Golden-headed Quetzal Pharomachrus auriceps] Heard only at GAL
Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata 1 FLO, 1 CAR
Highland Motmot Momotus aequatorialis 1 RBL, 3 OTU, 2 GAL
Red-headed Barbet Eubucco bourcierii 1 BOL, 2 OTU
[Toucan Barbet Semnornis ramphastinus] heard only GAL
Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus griseigularis 3 ROM
Black-billed Mountain-Toucan Andigena nigrirostris nigrirostris 1 GUA
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus 1 Medellin, 1 Pereira
Golden-green Woodpecker Piculus chrysochloros 1 OTU (Sheridan and Dan)
Golden-olive Woodpecker Colaptes rubiginosus 1 GAL (Sheridan and Dan)
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Colaptes rivoli 1 RBL, 2 GUA
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus 1 ROM (Martin)
[Powerful Woodpecker Campephilus pollens] heard only RBL
Stout-billed Cinclodes Cinclodes excelsior 1 RUI
Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus fairly common RUI
Andean Tit-Spintetail Leptasthenura andicola 1 RUI (Dan)
White-chinned Thistletail Schizoeaca fuliginosa 1 RUI (Dan)
Azara’s Spinetail Synallaxis azarae heard and/or seen at most mid-elevation locations
[Pale-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis albescens] heard only BOL
Red-faced Spinetail Cranioleuca erythrops 2 GAL
Spotted Barbtail Premnoplex brunnescens 2 ROM
Fulvous-dotted/Star-chested Treerunner Margarornis stellatus 5 GAL
Pearled Treerunner Margarornis squamiger a few ROM, RBL
[Striped Woodhaunter Hyloctistes subulatus] heard only RBL
Streak-capped Treehunter Thripadectes virgaticeps 1 RBL
Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans 1 OTU (Sheridan)
Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus 1 RBL, 1 OTU
Montane Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes lacrymiger 1 OTU
Bar-crested Antshrike Thamnophilus multistriatus 1 BOL
Uniform Antshrike Thamnophilus unicolor 1 GAL (Sheridan and Dan)
Bicolored Antvireo Dysithamnus occidentalis 1 female GAL
[Long-tailed Antbird Drymophila caudata] heard only RBL
[Moustached Antpitta Grallaria alleni] heard only OTU
Chestnut-crowned Antpitta Grallaria ruficapilla 2 RBL, heard OTU, GUA
Bicolored Antpitta Grallaria rufocinerea 1 RBL
[Chestnut-naped Antpitta Grallaria nuchalis] heard only at RBL
Yellow-breasted Antpitta Grallaria flavotincta 1 GAL (common by voice)
Rufous Antpitta Grallaria rufula 1 GUA (Martin and Pablo), heard RUI
Tawny Antpitta Grallaria quitensis 1 RUI
Brown-banded Antpitta Grallaria milleri 2 RBL
Slate-crowned Antpitta Grallicula nana 1 RBL
Ash-colored Tapaculo Myornis senilis 1 RBL, heard ROM
[Blackish Tapaculo Scytalopus latrans] heard only ROM, RBL
[Choco Tapaculo Scytalopus chocoensis] heard only GAL
Stiles’s Tapaculo Scytalopus stilesi 1 ROM
Narino Tapaculo Scytalopus vicinor 1 GAL
[Spillmann’s Tapaculo Scytalopus spillmanni] heard only RBL
Matorral Tapaculo Scytalopus griseicollis 1 GUA
[Paramo Tapaculo Scytalopus canus] heard only RBL, RUI
[Ocellated Tapaculo Acropternis orthonyx] heard only RBL
Black-capped Tyrannulet Phyllomyias nigrocapillus 2 RUI, 1 GUA
Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet Phyllomias plumbeiceps 1 FLO
Mountain Elaenia Elaenia frantzii 2 above ROM
White-tailed Tyrannulet Mecocerculus poecilocercus 1 GUA
White-throated Tyrannulet Mecocerculus leucophrys common GUA
Torrent Tyrannulet Serpophaga cinerea 2 FLO, 1 GUA
Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant Pseudotriccus pelzelni 3 GAL
Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant Pseudotriccus ruficeps 2 RBL
Golden-faced Tyrannulet Zimmerius chrysops fairly common mid elevations
[Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant Phylloscartes opthalmicus] heard only ROM, OTU
Streak-necked Flycatcher Mionectes striaticollis 1 RBL, 1 GAL
[Slaty-capped Flycatcher leptopogon amaurocephalus] heard only BOL
Sepia-capped Flycatcher leptopogon superciliaris 1 BOL
Rufous-breasted Flycatcher Leptopogon rufipectus 2 OTU, heard ROM
Ornate Flycatcher Myiotriccus ornatus 2 GAL
Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum 3 CAR
Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens 1 OTU
Handsome Flycatcher Myiophobus pulcher common GAL
Cinnamon Flycatcher Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus common JAR, RBL, GAL
Smoke-colored Pewee Contopus fumigatus 1 GAL (Martin)
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans seen on most rivers and streams
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus 1 BOL, 1 between Jardin and Rio Blanco
Streak-throated Bush-tyrant Myiotheretes striaticollis 1 RBL
Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca rufipectoralis 1 GUA
Brown-backed Chat-tyrant Ochthoeca fumicolor fairly common RUI and GUA
Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similis a few BOL, CAR
Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus 1 BOL, 3 CAR
Golden-crowned Flycatcher Myiodynastes chrysocephalus 2 ROM, a few OTU
Streaked Flycatcher Myiodynastes maculatus 1 juvenile BOL
Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus ubiquitous
Pale-edged Flycatcher Myiarchus cephalotes 1 OTU
Red-crested Cotinga Ampelion rubrocristatus 1 RUI, 1 GUA
Chestnut-crested Cotinga Ampelion rufaxilla 1 adult and 1 juvenile JAR
Green-and-black Fruiteater Pipreola riefferii 1 ROM, 3 GAL, 1 GUA
[Barred Fruiteater Pipreola arcuata] heard only JAR
Orange-breasted Fruiteater Pipreola jucunda 3 GAL
Andean Cock-of-the-Rock Rupicola rupicola 1 GAL
Olivaceous Piha Snowornis cryptolophus 2 GAL
Red-ruffed Fruitcrow Pyroderus scutatus 8 OTU
Golden-winged Manakin Masius chrysopterus 1 female GAL
Barred Becard Pachyramphus versicolor 1 GAL
Cinereous Becord Pachyramphus rufus 1 BOL
White-winged Becard Pachyramphus polychopterus 2 FLO
[Black-billed Peppershrike Cyclarhis nigrirostris] heard only at ROM, RBL
Brown-capped Vireo Vireo leucophrys 1 FLO
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo philadelphicus a few BOL, CAR
Rufous-naped Greenlet Hylophilus semibrunneus 2 ROM, 1 OTU
Black-collared Jay Cyanolyca armillata 4 RBL, heard JAR, GUA
Beautiful Jay Cyanolyca pulchra 1 GAL (Martin and Pablo)
Green/Inca Jay Cyanocorax yncas small numbers ROM, OTU
Blue-and-white Swallow Pygochelidon cyanoleuca fairly common in a variety of habitats
Brown-bellied Swallow Orochelidon murina fairly common in temperate areas
White-thighed Swallow Atticora tibialis a few OTU
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopterytx ruficollis BOL, between Jardin and Rio Blanco, CAR
House Wren Troglodytes aedon 1 above ROM, heard GUA
Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis 2 RUI, heard GUA
Whiskered Wren Pheugopedius mystacalis 1 above ROM, 1 OTU
[Rufous-and-white Wren Pheugopedius rufalbus] heard only BOL
Rufous Wren Cinnycerthia unirufa 3 GUA
Sharpe’s Wren Cinnycerthia olivascens 1 JAR
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren Henichorina leucophrys seen a few times, heard often in mid-elevation forests
Munchique Wood-Wren Henichorina negreti 2 seen at GAL, heard JAR
Chestnut-breasted Wren Cyphorinus thoracicus 2 OTU
Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea BOL
Andean Solitaire Myadestes ralloides 1 ROM, 1 OTU
[Black Solitaire Entomodestes coracinus] heard only, GAL (apparently Aug is not the best time to see them there)
Black-billed Thrush Turdus ignobilis common in middle/lower elevations
Great Thrush Turdus fuscater common in temperate areas
Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus common CAR
White-capped Tanager Sericossypha albocristata 4 RBL
Black-capped Hemispingus Hemispingus atropileus 2 RBL
Superciliated Hemispingus Hemispingus superciliaris 1 JAR
Oleaginous Hemispingus Hemispingus frontalis a few JAR, OTU
Gray-hooded Bush-Tanger Cnemoscopus rubirostris small group JAR
Crimson-backed Tanager Ramphocelus dimidiatus 2 BOL
Flame-rumped Tanager Ramphocelus flammigerus 1 BOL, 1 near Pereira
Lemon-Rumped Tanager Ramphocelus icteronotus 1 CAR
Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus a few in lower elevations
Palm Tanager Thraupis palmarum a couple at lower elevations
Blue-capped Tanager Thraupis cyanocephala 1 GAL
Black-and-gold Tanager Bangsia melanochlamys 1 lower GAL
Gold-ringed Tanager Bangsia aureocincta 20+ GAL
Hooded Mountain-Tanager Buthraupis Montana 4 GUA
Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus lacrymosus 3 JAR
Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus igniventris 1 RBL, 3 GUA
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus somptuosus 6 GAL
Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager Anisognathus notabilis 3 GAL
Grass-green Tanager Chlorornis riefferii 1 JAR
Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager Dubusia taeniata 1 JAR
Purplish-mantled Tanager Iridosornis porphyrocephalus 25+ GAL
Glistening-green Tanager Chlorochrysa phoenicotis 8 GAL
Multicolored Tanager Chlorochrysa nitidissima 2 OTU
Scrub Tanager Tangara vitriolina 1 ROM, 1 OTU
Blue-necked Tanager Tangara cyanocollis 1 FLO
Rufous-throated Tanager Tangara rufigula 1 lower GAL
Blue-and-black Tanager Tangara vassorii a couple RBL
Beryl-spangled Tanager Tangara nigroviridis a few RBL, GAL
Metallic-green Tanager Tangara labradorides 1 ROM (Sheridan)
Bay-headed Tanager Tangara gyrola 1 FLO (Martin)
Saffron-crowned Tanager Tangara xanthocephala 1 OTU
Flame-faced Tanager Tangara parzudakii 2 GAL
Golden Tanager Tangara arthus fairly common at mid-elevations
Silver-throated Tanager Tangara icterocephala 3 lower GAL
Blue Dacnis Dacnis cayana 2 BOL
Blue-backed Conebill Conirostrum sitticolor 1 RBL
Rufous-browed Conebill Conirostrum rufum 6 GUA
Black Flowerpiercer Diglossa humeralis 2 RUI, fairly common GUA
White-sided Flowerpiercer Diglossa albilatera fairly common in temperate areas
Indigo Flowerpiercer Diglossa indigotica 8+ GAL
Bluish Flowerpiercer Diglossa caerulescens 1 GAL, a few GUA
Masked Flowerpiercer Diglossa cyanea fairly common in most montane areas
Black-backed Bush-Tanager Urothraupis stolzmanni 1 RUI
Black-winged Saltator Saltator atripennis 1 FLO
Bananaquit Coereba flaveola a few at lower elevations
Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivaceus fairly common GAL
Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis ubiquitous
Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor common RUI
Saffron Finch Sicalis flaveola 2 Pereira
Gray Seedeater Sporophila intermedia 3 of the darker western form CAR
Yellow-bellied Seedeater Sporophila nigricollis common FLO, GAL
Plain-colored Seedeater Catamenia inornata fairly common RUI
Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch Arremon brunninucha 1 OTU
Yellow-throated/White-naped Brush-Finch Atlapetes gutteralis 2 ROM, 2 OTU
Pale-naped Brush-Finch Atlapetes pallidinucha 2 GUA
Tricolored Brush-Finch Atlapetes tricolor fairly common GAL
Rufous-naped Brush-finch Atlapetes latinuchus 1 ROM
Slaty Brush-Finch Atlapetes schistaceus a few JAR, OTU, GUA
Crested Ant-Tanager Habia cristata 2 OTU, heard GAL
Common Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus opthalmicus singles ROM, JAR, OTU
Dusky Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus semifuscus a few GAL
Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager Chlorospingus canigularis 2 OTU (Martin, Pablo)
Slate-throated Whitestart Myioborus miniatus most mid/upper elevations
Golden-fronted Whitestart Myioborus ornatus a few chrysops JAR, RBL; a few ornatus GUA
Black-crested Warbler Basileuterus nigrocristatus 1 GUA
[Russet-crowned Warbler Basileuterus coronatus] heard only JAR
Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culcivorus 1 ROM
Three-striped Warbler Basileuterus tristriatus 2 ROM, 1 GAL
Mountain Cacique Cacicus chrysonotus a few JAR, 1 GUA
[Yellow-billed Cacique Amblycercus holosericeus] heard only at RBL
Red-bellied Grackle Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster 15 ROM
Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus 1 between Bogota and GUA
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis 2 between Jardin and Rio Blanco
Red-breasted Blackbird sturnella militaris 2 CAR
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna 2 GUA
Andean Siskin Carduelis spinescens 3 RBL
[Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria] heard only GAL
Orange-bellied Euphonia Euphonia xanthogaster common FLO, GAL
Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia Chlorophonia pyrrhophrys GAL
Yellow-collared Chlorophonia Chlorophonia flavirostris 1 lower GAL (Martin)

I saw 259 species, of which 36 were lifers (in addition, 24 species identified by voice)

Jaguarundi (dark morph) 1 ran across the road above Jardin (Sheridan and Martin)
Red Howler Monkey 4 OTU (Sheridan)
Possum GAL
small squirrels ROM, OTU (pics)
2 small weasel-types (one dark, one pale) ran across the road above Jardin
a large bat feeding pre-dawn by our hotel in Medellin

Good birding!
Sheridan Coffey and Martin Reid