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

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