Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Location: Colombia, 2019
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Chee, Barbara, Sharon, Gerry, Eleanor, Jim, Pam, Janet, Sid, and Frank. It was the second time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Colombia. The trip was highly successful with a total of 272 species of birds being seen by most members of the group. At the end of the trip it was wished that we could have stayed longer and just enjoyed the wildlife, venues, food, and friendships that were made on the trip.
Gerry has provided us with a photo history of the trip. It can be found at:
Chee also provided us with a photo history. It can be found at:
March 6: Our American Airways flight, out of JFK Airport, took off right on schedule. We changed planes in Miami and arrived in Cali, Colombia, right on time. We were met at the airport by Daniel Uribe, our guide and John, our driver. Both Daniel and John would stay with us for the next 9 days. We would overnight at Hotel MS Chipichape in Cali.
March 7: Our birding venues for the first birding day would be: Kilo 18, Finca Alejandria and Parque Natural Regional El Vinculo. The birds were amazing. At Finca Alejandria we saw: Red-headed Barbet, Southern Emerald-Toucanet, Multicolored Tanager, Red-faced Spinetail and Green Honeycreeper. We saw our first of the thirty plus Blackburnian Warblers that we would see on the trip. We saw many hummingbirds, including the Booted Racket-tail. The location, Finca Alejandria, is privately owned and also known as “El Paraiso de Los Colibries”. For our first day we saw 60 species. Overnight was at Hotel Guadalajara de Buga.
March 8: We did an early morning drive and then birding the dry forest at El Vinculo and then the scrubland at Laguna de Sonso marsh. We saw many birds including: Limpkin, Black-necked Stilt, Cocoi Heron, Snail Kite, Buff-necked Ibis. Kingfishers were well represented with good views of: Ringed, Green and Amazon. For North American migrants overwintering in the tropics we saw both Spotted and Solitary sandpipers. I especially liked the Great Antshrike, which we all saw very well in the scrubland part of the marsh. After lunch we drove to Otun-Quimbaya, our main venue for the next two days. On the way we stopped at a fast moving stream and had great views of both male and female Torrent Ducks. At the same stop we also saw two Torrent Tyrannulets. We would overnight at the La Suiza Lodge at Otun-Quimbaya. We had 80 species for the day.
March 9: We were up early and spent the entire day birding the lodge and areas around the lodge. We started off by taking three 4-wheel drive vehicles to the top of the hill. It was the right way to travel up the hill as the road was very muddy and we were able to get there just at dawn. It was a very good day to see tanagers. We saw: Bay-headed, Metallic-green, Blue-necked, Scrub, Black-capped, Palm, Blue-gray and Flame-rumped. It was also a good day to see Guans: We saw: Cauca, Wattled and Sickled-winged. Daniel said it was very rare for a birding group to see, and see very well, all three species. One of the specialties of this venue was the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. We saw many of them very well. It also was the day when we would see the most Blackburnian Warblers as we totaled 11. We also saw two Canada Warblers. Blackburnian and Canada warblers are the two most common North American warblers to overwinter in Colombia. Overnight was again at La Suiza Lodge. We had 59 species for the day.
March 10: We were up early, as usual, did some birding on the grounds and the headed towards Emblase Cameguadua. From previous trips I remember this as my favorite spot. Cameguadua has a dry wooded area and then the marsh. We saw 66 species just at this location. All the common marsh birds were seen, including: Purple Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt, Blackish Rail, Southern Lapwing and Buff-necked Ibis. In the wooded area we saw: Ultramarine Grosbeak, Yellow Oriole, Yellow-hooded Blackbird and Grayish Piculet. Finches and seedeaters were good too. Well seen were: Yellow-bellied seedeater, Ruddy-breasted seedeater and Thick-billed Seed-finch. We had 89 species for the day. We would overnight at Hotel Estelar Recinto del Pensamiento in Manizales. We used this hotel for the next three nights.
March 11: Up early again. Today we drove up the Andes to 14000 feet. Our target was the Buffy Helmetcrest located at the top of Carretera Nevado del Ruiz. We started counting birds at 8:30 and would continue for the next 6 hours. On the drive to the top, with many stops, we recorded: Great Thrush, Andean Teal, Sedge Wren, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager (maybe the most beautiful on the trip), Black-blled Conebill, Black Flowerpiercer and Glossy Flowerpiercer. We finally reached the top, got out of the van, and with 10 minutes we saw the Helmetcrest. It was very easy! We recorded 48 species (basically all new) for the day.
March 12: Up at the usual time and our goal was to bird the trails of Rio Blanco. This venue is rated as one of the best birding locations in the world and we spent the whole day here. The guides at this location have trained Antpittas to respond to calls and then be rewarded by them receiving worms. Using this technique we saw, very well, the following Antpittas: Streak-headed, Chestnut-crowned and Bicolored. It was like a miniature movie house. After the antpittas we walked the trails and saw some great birds. We saw: Southern-Emerald Toucanet, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Slate-throated Redstart, Golden-fronted Redstart and the extremely beautiful Black-billed Mountain Toucan. Maybe my favorite bird of the entire trip. Heard but never really seen were three tapaculo species. The Spillmann’s gave a very quick view. We walked the trails for about 5 hours had lunch and went out for another two hours. The highlight was the Green-and-black Fruiteater. For the day we recorded 64 species.
March 13: After breakfast we had an early morning drive to Tinamu Nature Reserve and birding Lodge. The grounds and the lodge were great. We were taken out by Fernando, the park ranger. He knew where to look. On the trail we saw a sleeping Common Potoo. It was hard to see at first because he looked just like the tree we was roosting in. A Moustached Puffbird was also hard to see as the bird didn’t move. Finally we all got good looks. Some other great birds seen were: Yellow-backed oriole, Thick-billed Euphonia, Pale-breasted Spinetail and Andean Motmot. They had a tanager feeder set up and Bay-headed, Summer, Gray-headed and Blue-Gray tanagers were all attracted to it. As I keep a count of North American migrants that I see it was interesting to note that four Summer Tanagers were present at this location making a total of ten for the entire trip. We would record 71 species for the day.
March 14: John picked us up at just after breakfast, took us to the airport at Pereira. It was just a short distance away. We took a short Avianca flight to Bogota and then continued back to JFK, NYC on another Avianca flight. Colombia is encouraging tourism. If you stay less than 60 days there is no exit tax. This was a nice way to end an extraordinary trip.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Species seen - 272