Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Location: Colombia, 2020
Reported by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Mary Jane, Daniel, Elyse, Mary, Judy, Cliff, Vicki, Mariannick, Gillian, Jean-Pierre and Michele. It was the third time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Colombia. The trip was highly successful with a total of 255 species of birds 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.
Daniel from our group has provided us with a photo history. It can be found at:
March 8: 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 9: Our birding venues for the first birding day would be: Kilo 18, Finca Alejandria, Parque Natural Regional El Vinculo and Anchicaya. The birds were amazing. At Finca Alejandria, a private reserve, we saw: Red-headed Barbet, Multicolored Tanager, Red-faced Spinetail and Green Honeycreeper. We saw our first of the 19 Blackburnian Warblers that we would see on the trip. We saw many hummingbirds, including the Booted Racket-tail. They had a pair of nesting Golden-heated Quetzals very close to the feeding station. We saw both the male and female. Green Jays surrounded us in the parking lot. The location, Finca Alejandria, is privately owned and also known as "El Paraiso de Los Colibries". Daniel then took us to Anchicaya. It is on the western Andes and the only time we would be in this region. We added probably the most beautiful bird of the entire trip, the Toucan Barbet. It was at a feeder not more than 10 feet away. We also added hummingbirds of this area which we would see nowhere else. They were: Empress Brillant, Crowned Woodnymph, White-Whiskered Hermit and Green Thorntail. For our first day we saw 87 species. Overnight was at Hotel Guadalajara de Buga.
March 10: It was mostly a traveling day but with stops along the way. Number one as the Laguna de Sonso marsh. We birded it in three different ways; first from the roadside overlooking the marsh, then next to a river which runs through the marsh and finally the dry forest that is adjacent to the marsh. We saw many birds including: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Limpkin, Black-necked Stilt, Buff-necked Ibis. For shorebirds we saw: Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper. I like to keep count of North American migrants that we saw. Spotted Sandpiper, one of my favorite birds, totaled six. Kingfishers were well represented with good views of: Ringed, Green and Amazon. I especially liked the Great Antshrike, which we all saw very well in the scrubland part of the marsh. We searched the wooded area and found two night birds. We saw the Common Potoo and a Common Nighthawk. 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 73 species for the day.
March 11: 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, Beryl-Spangled, Blue-necked, Scrub, Black-capped, Palm, Blue-gray and Flame-rumped. We also saw a very nice Green Honeycreeper. It was also a good day to see Guans, we saw: Cauca, Wattled (heard only) and Sickled-winged. Daniel said it was very rare for a birding group to see or hear all three species. One of the specialties of this venue was the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. We saw many of them very well. Many birders come to this venue just for the Crow and the Guans. We also saw two Canada Warblers. Blackburnian and Canada warblers are the two most common North American warblers to overwinter in Colombia. Our afternoon activity consisted of walking down to the river. At the river we saw the White-capped Dipper. We stood on a bridge and the bird flew underneath the bridge many times. We heard and some of us saw another North American migrant, the Acadian Flycatcher. Overnight was again at La Suiza Lodge at Otun-Quimbaya. We had 56 species for the day.
March 12: We were up early, as usual, and did some birding on the grounds. The grounds around the lodge are excellent and so easy to access. We finally left Otum-Quimbaya and headed towards Emblase Cameguadua. From previous trips I remember this as my favorite spot. Cameguadua has a dry wooded area and then the marsh. All the common marsh birds were seen, including: Purple Gallinule, American Coot, Blue-winged Teal, Black-necked Stilt, Southern Lapwing and Buff-necked Ibis. We dipped on the Blackish Rail. In the wooded area we saw: Yellow Oriole and Yellow-hooded Blackbird. Finches and seedeaters were good too. Well seen were: Yellow-bellied seedeater and Ruddy-breasted seedeater. We had 84 species for the day. We did overnight at Hotel Estelar Recinto del Pensamiento in Manizales. We used this hotel for the next three nights.
March 13: 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 (among 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 within 10 minutes we saw the Helmetcrest. It was very easy! We recorded 33 species (basically all new) for the day.
March 14: We had to make some changes in our itinerary because of the closure of Rio Blanco. Instead we birded El Bosque Hacienda and spent more time at Tinamu Lodge. El Bosque is a family run birding venue. They have established "antpitta auditoriums" for calling in some special birds. They were able to attract the Crested-faced Antpitta, a surprise bird for everyone. In one theater they had a Rufous Antpitta while in the other theater there was the Crested-faced Antipitta. The birds put on a great show.
It was nice to spend some extra time at Tinamu Lodge. The grounds are great and they have many feeders plus trails on the property. The dining room is completely open and it is very nice to have birds flying around while eating. The feeders attracted many tanagers. I was careful to count the number of Summer Tanagers at the feeder at one time. I counted four but for the whole Colombia birding trip I counted 16. That number was only surpassed by the number of Blackburnian Warblers which stood at 19. Canada Warblers came in at 5. At least we know where these birds spend the winter. For the day we recorded 64 species.
March 15: We spent the entire day at the Tinamu Nature Reserve birding Lodge and the trails near the property. The grounds and the lodge were great. We had with us Fernando, the park ranger. He knew where the birds where and 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. They had a tanager feeder set up and Bay-headed, Summer, Gray-headed and Blue-Gray tanagers were all attracted to it. New for me in Colombia was a Scarlet Tanager. As I keep track of North American migrants that I see it was interesting to note that the Summer Tanagers came in varying types of plumage. Some were all red, some orange going into red an some just yellow. Two other North American migrants seen were the Swainson's Thrush and new for me in Colombia a Golden-winged warbler. Interesting was the lek of the Golden-collared Manakin. Males were snapping their wings and females watching the performance. There were at least 5 manakins present. We recorded 77 species for the day.
March 16: John picked us up at just after breakfast, took us to the airport at Pereira. It was just over one hour away. We took a short Avianca flight to Bogota and then continued back to JFK, NYC on another Avianca flight. Some of us got to sit in first class. That was very nice. Colombia is encouraging tourism. If you stay less than 60 days there is no exit tax. It was an extraordinary trip which I can't wait to do again.
Little Blue Heron
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Species seen - 255