|PEREGRINE BIRD TOURS|
9 - 30 October 2012
Contrary to popular belief Colombia is a peaceful, well run Andean country. It is a tremendous birding destination, with a staggering number of endemic and near-endemic birds and our tour amply demonstrated this. We were very fortunate with the weather, losing almost no birding time to bad weather and we enjoyed a trouble-free tour from beginning to end. We observed no fewer than 39 endemic birds which included Cauca Guan, Chestnut-winged and Colombian Chachalacas, Chestnut Wood-Quail, Yellow-eared Parrot, Santa Marta Screech-Owl, Blossomcrown, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Santa Marta Woodstar, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Santa Marta Toucanet, Grayish Piculet, Rusty-headed, Streak-capped and Silvery-throated Spinetails, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Parker's Antbird, Brown-banded Antpitta, Santa Marta and Alto Pisones Tapaculos, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Apical Flycatcher, Munchique Wood-Wren, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, White-lored and Santa Marta Warblers, Flame-rumped, Black-and-gold, Gold-ringed and Multicolored Tanagers, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, Crested Ant-Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Santa Marta and Colombian Brush-Finches and Red-bellied Grackle. In addition, we also observed 40 or so near-endemics. Plus several rarely reported species in Colombia, which included Mississippi Kite, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Solitary Eagle, Wilson's Phalarope, Colombian Screech-Owl, Shining-green Hummingbird and Bicolored Antvireo. We also enjoyed a good number of North American migrants wintering or passing through the country, which added further interest to the tour. We also saw the three most emblematic species of the high Andes, Torrent Duck, Oilbird and Andean Cock-of-the-rock. One of the great highlights of the tour was to visit the antpitta feeding-stations at the Rio Blanco Reserve, where we were able to enjoy observing several species of antpittas at point blank range! During the tour we saw 8 different species of antpittas and seven different species of tapaculos.
Following a long and tiring flight from Australia we arrived into Bogota airport after dark. We then met up with our local guide Pablo and our driver and in no time at all, we were all tucked up in bed at a nearby hotel, which rather ironically, was called the Platypus Hotel!
The following morning we rose early and drove back to the airport, observing lots of Feral Pigeons along the way. We then flew due north to Santa Marta. Here we piled our luggage and ourselves into two 4-wheel drive vehicles and headed up a very rough road into the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, observing both Turkey and Black Vultures on the outskirts of Santa Marta. Our first birding stop was in a patch of rainforest a little below the town of Minca. Here we saw a White-tipped Dove in flight, a couple of obliging White-vented Plumeleteers, the attractive Rufous-tailed Jacamar, one or two Plain Xenops, a large Cocoa Woodcreeper, a female Western Slaty-
Antshrike, a female Lance-tailed Manakin, a Venezuelan Flycatcher, a rather furtive Rufous-and-white Wren, a single Red-eyed Vireo, we enjoyed good close looks at a Golden-fronted Greenlet, a stunning Crimson-backed Tanager, several Blue-gray Tanagers and a couple of Palm Tanagers. We also found a couple of species of North American birds, which spend the winter months in South America, the stunning Prothonotary Warbler and the equally impressive Baltimore Oriole. We had lunch at a small restaurant in Minca, where we added Neotropic Cormorant, White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-tailed and Steely-vented Hummingbirds, Black Phoebe and Pale-breasted Thrush. Following lunch we continued up the mountain and a little roadside birding produced a splendid Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Tropical Kingbird, the very beautiful Slate-throated Whitestart, Russet-crowned Warbler and White-lined and Bay-headed Tanagers. We also saw another North American migrant, an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Our next birding stop was at the Cafe del Bruja, where hummingbird feeders and flowering shrubs attracted Long-billed Hermit, Green Violetear, Purple-crowned Woodnymph, the much sought-after Blossomcrown and a very active pair of Rusty Flowerpiercers.
We then drove to the El Derado Lodge, where we spent the remainder of the afternoon birding in the grounds of the lodge. The hummingbird feeder produced Brown and Sparkling Violetears and the stunning Colombian endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet. Other new birds included Band-tailed Guan, Rufous-collared Sparrow, the endemic Santa Marta Brush-Finch and best of all, we were shown the recently described Santa Marta Screech-Owl, at its daytime roost.
The following morning we arrived at the San Lorenzo Ridge shortly after dawn and began our search for new birds amongst the bamboo choked slopes on either side of the ridge. New birds for the tour included fine looks at a Peregrine Falcon in flight, small flocks of noisy Scarlet-fronted Parakeets, several Tyrian Metaltails, a Santa Marta Toucanet, good numbers of endemic Streak-capped Spinetails and a solitary Rusty-headed Spinetail. The White-throated Tyrannulet put in an appearance, we enjoyed super close looks at the range-restricted Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, a large flock of Blue-and-white Swallows, the highland form of Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, a small flock of Andean Siskins, the beautiful and endemic Yellow-crowned Whitestart, the endemic Santa Marta Warbler, the stunning endemic Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, a White-sided Flowerpiercer, beautiful Blue-naped Chlorophonias and the very attractive Golden-bellied Grosbeak. We even saw the elusive and endemic Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant. We returned for a late lunch at our lodge and then spent the remainder of the afternoon birding around the grounds of the lodge.
This proved rather productive and new birds here included the endemic Santa Marta Woodstar, White-tipped Quetzel, Montane Foliage-Gleaner, Great Thrush, a family party of noisy Black-chested Jays, the endemic White-lored Warbler and two more species of North American migrants, the attractive Blackburnian Warbler and the superb Golden-winged Warbler. We also added two species of mammals, Pat saw a pair of Crab-eating Foxes and we all enjoyed good looks at several Red-tailed Squirrels.
Up early the following morning, for half a days birding in the montane forest around the San Lorenzo Research Station. Here we added Band-tailed Pigeon, noisy flocks of both Red-billed and Scaly-naped Parrots, a pair of uncommon Spotted Barbtails, the huge Strong-billed Woodcreeper, the more delicate Montane Woodcreeper, the stunning Golden-breasted Fruiteater and an Olive-striped Flycatcher. Back to El Derado Lodge for lunch, where we did a little more birding, adding Golden-crowned Flycatcher and the Black-capped Tanager. However, the best sighting was of a family party of seven Black-fronted Wood-Quail. Following lunch we birded an outstanding area of rainforest above Minca. Here we added three very elusive birds, Grey-throated Leaftosser, the endemic Santa Marta Tapaculo and the endemic Colombian Brush-Finch. We also added two more North American migrants to our ever growing list, a female American Redstart and a female Summer Tanager.
We spent the following morning birding in foothill forest a little above Minca. New birds came thick and fast and they included large, noisy flocks of Orange-chinned Parakeets, a very handsome Squirrel Cuckoo, a Rufous-breasted Hermit, the rarely observed Coppery Emerald, the very uncommon Indigo-capped Hummingbird, a stunning Blue-crowned Motmot, a pair of Red-crowned Woodpeckers, the extremely range-restricted and endemic Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, a fine male Barred Antshike, the very uncommon and range-restricted Black-backed Antshike, a pair of diminutive White-bearded Manikins, a couple of Sepia-capped Flycatchers, several Ochre-bellied Flycatchers, a good number of range-restricted Venezuelan Tyrannulets, a Tropical Pewee, a very obliging Streaked Flycatcher, the very large Boat-billed Flycatcher, a few Dusky-capped Flycatchers, a pair of Southern Roughwing Swallows, a Rufous-breasted Wren, a splendid Long-billed Gnatwren, a rather plain Brown-capped Vireo, a pair of Lesser Goldfinches, lots of attractive Rufous-capped Warblers, a few Thick-billed Euphonias, Buff-throated Saltator, the range-restricted Golden-winged Sparrow, a male Yellow-bellied Seedeater, the range-restricted and uncommon Large-billed Seed-Finch and the attractive Crested Oropendola, plus another North American migrant the very attractive Black-and-white Warbler. In the afternoon we drove to Rio Hacha, breaking the long drive with a birding stop close to Campana. It was the middle of the afternoon and little at all, was moving around in the heat. However, we did manage to enjoy good looks at the very handsome White-bellied Antbird. A little further down the road, we stopped for a toilet break and of course, we did some birding as well and new birds here included Great and Cattle Egrets, a fine and very large flock of diminutive Green-rumped Parrotlets, a Spot-breasted Woodpecker, a family party of Bicolored Wrens, a Shiny Cowbird and a flock of Carib Grackles. Close to the town of Tigeras, we spent a very productive couple of hours birding a fine area of flooded scrubland. Here new birds included the rare Rufous-vented Chachalaca, a couple of Groove-billed Anis, several sightings of White-collared Swifts, a Ringed Kingfisher, the very uncommon and range- restricted Chestnut Piculet, the very beautiful and range-restricted White-whiskered Spinetail, the handsome Black-crested Antshrike, a pair of White-fringed Antwrens, a couple of Great Kiskadees, several Tropical Gnatcatchers, one or two Scrub Greenlets, Tropical Parula, Yellow Warbler, Bananaquit, Blue-black Grassquit and the uncommon Lesson's Seedeater. We also saw a few Venezuelan Red Howler Monkeys.
The following morning was spent birding in Los Flamencos National Park, on the arid Guajira Peninsula, which juts out into the Caribbean Sea. It shares an avifauna with the deserts of Falcon in adjacent areas of Venezuela. First of all, we drove to a large area of tidal lagoons, where we enjoyed a picnic breakfast. The tidal lagoons and a nearby sandy spit produced a whole range of predominantly wetland species, which were new for the tour, they included Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Great Blue and Tricolored Herons, Snowy and Reddish Egrets, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White and Scarlet Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, American Flamingo, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Osprey, Savanna Hawk, Crested and Yellow-headed Caracaras, Limpkin, Grey-necked Wood-Rail, Wattled Jacana, American Oystercatcher, Black-necked Stilt, Southern Lapwing, Semipalmated Plover, Whimbrel, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted, Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Laughing Gull, Gull-billed, Yellow-billed, Caspian, Sandwich, Royal and Common Terns and Black Skimmer.
We also made a methodical search of the adjacent arid scrub where new birds included Crested Bobwhite, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Plain-breasted and Ruddy Ground-Doves, Scaled Dove, Brown-throated Parakeet, the stunning Ruby Topaz Hummingbird, Red-billed Emerald, the beautiful Russet-throated Puffbird, Pale-legged Hornero, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Northern Scrub, Yellow-breasted and Vermilion Flycatchers, Cattle Tyrant, Gray Kingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Tropical Mockingbird, the stunning Vermilion Cardinal, Grayish and Orinocan Saltators, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Yellow Oriole, Great-tailed Grackle and Red-breasted Blackbird.
We then drove towards Santa Marta, where we were to spend the night. We stopped at an area of forest close to Tigeras, an area where we saw three new birds, Social Flycatcher, Buff-breasted Wren and a delightful Orange-crowned Oriole. A final birding stop at an area of forest close to Santa Marta, enabled us to add the Shining-green Hummingbird, to our ever growing list.
The following morning we travelled to the Bale Road, not far out of Santa Marta, to try for the very uncommon and endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca. In no time at all they duly obliged and we saw them very well. We also found several new birds for the tour in this forested area, these included a couple of immature Plumbeous Kites, a Gray Hawk, a squawking Yellow-crowned Parrot, a small flock of Sick's Swifts and a male Lineated Woodpecker.
We then headed for the causeway of the Isla de Salamanka National Park, on both sides of the road there were large ponds of water, which contained a large and varied assortment of wetland birds. New birds for the tour included Cocoi Heron, Wood Stork, a few White-cheeked Pintails, half a dozen Northern Shovelers, an uncommon winter visitor from North America, a good number of Short-billed Dowitchers, a couple of delightful Wilson's Phalaropes a rare passage migrant in Colombia and a solitary Large-billed Tern. We then walked a very fine mangrove board walk, where our main target bird was the critically endangered Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, which feeds on flowering mangroves. We quickly found a single bird, which performed very well for us, giving a glittering display of its beautiful plumage. Other new birds in the mangroves, included Striated Heron, two superb Rufescent Tiger-Herons, a Roadside Hawk, a few iridescent Greater Anis, a pair of Pauraques at their daytime roost, an immature Red-rumped Woodpecker, a Yellow-chinned Spinetail, a delightful Pied Water-Tyrant, several Northern Water-Thrushes, a North American migrant and a Bicolored Conebill. We then drove to Santa Marta airport, where we ate a very fine lunch, before flying to Medellin. From here we drove to the Rio Claro Reserve, arriving after dark.
The Rio Claro Reserve, lies in the Magdalena Valley and is an extensive area of lowland hill forest. We spent the morning birding on one of the somewhat muddy trails leading up into the mountains. We saw a steady stream of new birds throughout the morning. As well as two species of monkeys. We found a troop of White-fronted Capuchins and moving with them was a superb Double-toothed Kite, ready to pounce on small birds disturbed by the monkeys. We also watched a good number of Silvery-brown Bare-faced Tamarins, a small species of monkey that is endemic to Colombia, which we were able to watch at very close quarters. We found a perched Blue-headed Parrot, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a migrant from North America, both Pale-bellied and Striped-throated Hermits, an obliging Blue-chested Hummingbird, an equally obliging Bronze-tailed Plumelateer, the very beautiful Purple-crowned Fairy, a male White-tailed Trogon and a female Black-throated Trogon. Two species of splendid puffbirds, the Barred and the White-whiskered, both were very much appreciated, we saw both the Channel-billed and Black-mandibled Toucans, the diminutive Pacific Antwren, the attractive Chestnut-backed Antbird, a stunning male Blue-crowned Manikin, the uncommon Wing-barred Piprites, the rather dull Olivaceous Flatbill, lots of Eastern Wood-Pewees, a migrant from North America and a Great-crested Flycatcher, yet another North American migrant. We also saw Band-backed and Bay Wrens, lots of Swainson's Thrushes, another North American migrant, the attractive Buff-rumped Warbler, the range-restricted Black-faced Dacnis, Tawny-crested, Yellow-backed and Dusky-faced Tanagers and a fine looking Slate-colored Grosbeak.
Following lunch we headed off for Gruta del Condor, a large cave, which is home to the Oilbird, a mono family, which is endemic to South America. On the way, a small area of farmland produced Capped Heron, Green Kingfisher, Collared Aracari, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, Cinnamon Becard, the uncommon White-thighed Swallow, Southern House Wren, Black-billed Thrush, Saffron Finch and Yellow-rumped Cacique. A patch of rainforest close to the cave produced Rufous Motmot, Euler's Flycatcher and Canada Warbler, another migrant from North America. We very much enjoyed observing several Oilbirds inside the cave.
While walking to the dining room before dawn the following morning, some of the group were lucky enough to spotlight a family party of Lemurine Night Monkeys. Following breakfast a spot of early morning birding in the Rio Claro Reserve, provided us with excellent looks at the star bird of the reserve, the Magdalena Antbird, which as the name would suggest, is endemic to the Magdalena Valley. Where unfortunately, most of the rainforest has been cleared, making the Magdalena Antbird a particularly endangered species. We then visited a private area of rainforest at a nearby limestone quarry. The birding was excellent here and new birds constantly popped into view, these included a couple of Least Grebes, a very close flock of range-restricted Spectacled Parrotlets, large numbers of Smooth-billed Anis, the attractive Gartered Trogon, the diminutive Olivaceous Piculet, the very uncommon Western Striped Manakin, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, both Slate-headed and Black-headed Tody-Flycatchers, the stunning Long-tailed Tyrant, Piratic and Rusty-margined Flycatchers, a pair of Masked Tityras, the very attractive White-winged Swallow, both Gray-breasted and Brown-chested Martins, the range-restricted Black-bellied Wren and the Plain-colored and Golden-hooded Tanagers. The rest of the day was taken up by a very long drive to Anori, for a two nights stay at the recently created, Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve. We broke the long drive at a small wetland often referred to as the `Screamer Marsh`. One of only a handful of places in the world where the huge Northern Screamer can be found. In addition to 15 screamers, other new birds included Bare-faced Ibis, an immature Mississippi Kite, a rare passage migrant in Colombia, from its breeding grounds in North America, we also saw a Laughing Falcon, a Purple Gallinule and a couple of Common Gallinules. A second birding stop at an even smaller swamp produced a pair of Aplamado Falcons, a Pale-vented Pigeon and an uncommon Gray Seedeater.
The Chestnut-capped Piha reserve was set up to protect the piha and the forest it depends on. It provided us with an excellent days birding despite constant rain in the morning, new birds here included Greenish Puffleg, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-rumped Antwren, the delightful White-crowned Manikin, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Slaty-capped Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee another North American migrant, the range-restrictive Sooty-headed Wren, the very attractive Green Jay, Three-striped Warbler, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, and the attractive Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch. Back for lunch at the lodge and a short break as we watched the hummingbird feeders and several ripe bananas, which attracted many colourful tanagers. Here we added Colombian Chachalaca, Green-crowned Woodnymph, Andean and Western Emerald, Green-crowned Brilliant, the stunning Purple-throated Woodstar, Tennessee Warbler yet another North American migrant, Golden, Silver-throated, Scrub and Blue-necked Tanagers, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, another North American migrant, Black-winged Saltator and Black-striped Sparrow.
We then headed back into the forest where we continued to find new birds which included Broad-winged Hawk, a migrant from North America, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Slaty Spinetail, Liniated Foliage-gleaner, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Plain Antvireo, the spectacular Golden-winged Manakin, the aptly named Ornate Flycatcher, Scale-crested Pgymy-Tyrant, the breathtaking Purplish-mantled Tanager, Speckled Tanager and Beryl-spangled Tanager. We also saw two of the very special birds of this area, Parker's Antbird and the Stiles's Tapaculo. We also saw a new species of mammal here, the Western Dwarf Squirrel.
The following morning we spent a couple of hours birding in the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve, following breakfast. We added a further dozen or so new birds to our trip list, they included the very timid Chestnut Wood-Quail, the attractive Striped Cuckoo, a Masked Trogon, Highland Motmot, a pair of Red-headed Barbets, Yellow-bellied Siskin, the beautiful Blue-winged Mountain- Tanager, a pair of Green Honeycreepers, a female Guira Tanager, Streaked Saltator, Russet-backed Orependola and best of all, the endemic and very uncommon Red-bellied Grackle. We also added more North American migrants, which included Gray-cheeked Thrush, Yellow-throated Vireo and a stunning male Cerulean Warbler, in full breeding plumage. This is a particularly uncommon North American bird. We then spent the rest of the day on a long and winding drive to the colonial town of Jardin, high in the Andes Mountains.
High above Jardin the following morning, we were treated to a bright and sunny day. We saw a pair of Sickle-winged Guans on the track on the way up to the cloudforest. We soon found our main target bird, the Yellow-eared Parrot, we watched several small flocks flying overhead, giving particularly good looks on one occasion. We spent the whole morning birding in the cloudforest and were rewarded with many new birds. A family of farmers invited us to check out their hummingbird feeders, here we enjoyed super close looks at the superb Mountain Velvetbreast, the brilliantly coloured Collared Inca and the exquisite Tourmaline Sunangel. The rest of the mornings birding was not quite so easy, as we slowly prized each new species out of the cloudforest. We added Speckled Hummingbird, three species of spinetails, Azara's, Rufous and White-browed, the Pearled Treerunner showed well, as did a couple of Streaked Tuftedcheeks, we glimpsed a Striped Treehunter and enjoyed a pair of Green-and-black Fruiteaters. A White-tailed Tyrannulet popped into view, as did a Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant, we also enjoyed super close looks at a very obliging Rufous-breasted Flycatcher. A Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant was much admired, as were no less than three species of Chat-Tyrants, Yellow-bellied, Slaty-backed and Rufous-breasted. A Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant posed for us on the top of a large bush, we saw a female Barred Becard, a delightful Rufous Wren and the range-restrictive Golden-fronted Whitestart. We also saw both Black-capped and Superciliaired Hemispingus, several Blue-capped Tanagers and the stunning Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager. A couple of Capped Conebills proved elusive, we faired better with White-naped and Slaty Brush-Finch and the Mountain Cacique.
Following a hard-earned siesta, we visited a nearby Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek, where the splendid males put on a breathtaking display for us. Other new birds for the tour seen here were Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Flame-rumped Tanager, Yellow-faced Grassquit and Yellow-backed Oriole.
The following morning we birded in a mix of rainforest and scrub, a little above Jardin. An hour or so of birding produced several new birds which included Bronzy Inca, Torrent Tyrannulet, Andean Solitaire, Golden-crowned Warbler and three species of stunning tanagers, Saffron-crowned, Metallic-green and Highland-hepatic. We then drove towards Manizales, where we would spend the night. It was a long drive, so we broke the drive with a birding stop at the Rio Sinifana, near Bolombolo. This proved very rewarding new birds here included the endemic Grayish Piculet, Sooty-headed and Mouse-colored Tyrannulets, Greenish Elaenia, Streak-necked and Yellow-olive Flycatchers, the endemic Apical Flycatcher, the uncommon Rufous-naped Greenlet and the beautiful Purple Honeycreeper.
The next morning found us at over 4,000 metres on the paramo below the smouldering Nevado del Ruiz. During the course of the day we became increasingly wet and cold, but not before we had enjoyed a good number of new birds. High on the paramo we added Andean Teal, Ruddy Duck, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Sedge Wren, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch and Plain-colored Seedeater. We also watched three very special birds, the very striking Bearded Helmetcrest, Tawny Antpitta and Stillman's Tapaculo. Lower down in dense cloudforest, we added Sharp-shinned Hawk, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Great Sapphirewing, the rarely observed Black-thighed Puffleg, Viridian Metaltail, Black-capped and White-banded Tyrannulets, both Crowned and Brown-backed Chat-Tyrants, Black-crested Warbler, Masked Flowerpiercer, Black-backed Bush-Tanager and Pale-naped Brush-Finch. The rain finally proved too much, so we drove to the splendid Rio Blanco Reserve, where we dried out and watched the hummingbird feeders. New birds from the verandah of the reserve's headquarters included Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Coronet, Long-tailed Sylph, Brown-bellied Swallow and Gray-browed Brush-Finch. We were then taken into the forest, where we could scarcely believe our eyes as we were taken to an antpitta feeding-station where the stunning Chestnut-crowned Antpitta and the endemic and little-known Brown-banded Antpitta both came into be fed with earthworms. A fitting climax to a wonderful days birding in the high Andes.
We enjoyed a full mornings, birding in the splendid Rio Blanco Reserve, once again the antpitta feeding stations stole the show. As well as the two species seen yesterday we also saw the gigantic Undulated Antpitta, a truly remarkable bird, the beautiful Chestnut-naped Antpitta and the diminutive Slate-crowned Antpitta. All just a few metres away, simply breathtaking! One of the other highlights was the Masked Saltator, a little known species, which was only recently found to occur in Colombia. Yet another highlight of today's birding was the sighting of a superb Plushcap, a truly remarkable bird. There was also a supporting cast of other new birds, which included Eared Dove, the very uncommon Golden-plumed Parakeet, Bronze-winged Parrot, the uncommon White-bellied Woodstar, the magnificent Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Striated Xenops, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Long-tailed Antbird, the beautiful but very uncommon Ocellated Tapaculo, Blackish Tapaculo, Mountain Elaenia, Flavescent, Cinnamon and Pale-edged Flycatchers, the very uncommon Black-and-white Becard, Sharpe's and Mountain Wrens, the range-restricted Black-collared Jay, Black-eared Hemispingus, Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager, the very attractive Grass-green Tanager, the delightful Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager and Blue-and-black Tanager. In the afternoon we drove high into the mountains, for a three nights stay at the splendid Tatama National Park.
Unfortunately the following day was marred by steady rain throughout the whole day. Undaunted, we still went birding and as the morning progressed we became more and more miserable and wet. However, we did find some splendid new birds, which included Blackish Rail, Gray-rumped Swift, the range-restricted Bicolored Antvireo, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, a pair of very attractive Chestnut-bellied Chlorophonias, the very uncommon Olive Finch, Variable Seedeater and best of all, the rare and endemic Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer. Back at the lodge for lunch, where the hummingbird feeders attracted new birds for us, which included Empress Brilliant, White-tailed Hillstar, Velvet-purple Coronet and Violet-tailed Sylph, all simply stunning species of hummers. A foray in the rain in the afternoon, netted three new species for us, Olive-backed Woodcreeper, the endemic Black-and-gold Tanager and the endemic Crested Ant-Tanager.
Following 24 hours of non-stop rain, the following morning dawned bright and sunny, with no rain. We were determined to take full advantage of it. We spent the whole day birding in the cloudforest of Tatama National Park. New birds for the tour, popped into view at regular intervals, many of them in mixed species feeding flocks. The main target species was the endemic Munchique Wood-Wren, which only occurs at two known sites. Fortunately it responded well to tape playback and we saw it particularly well. Other much sought after species included the very uncommon Chestnut-breasted Wren, the rare Black Solitaire, the stunning Gold-ringed Tanager, the uncommon Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, the superb Glistening-green Tanager, the beautiful Flame-faced Tanager and the delightful Yellow-collared Chlorophonia. Other new birds included Tawny-bellied Hermit, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Red-faced Spinetail, Fulvous-dotted and Uniform Treehunters, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Scale-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Olivaceous Piha, Choco Tyrannulet, Bronze-olive Pgymy-Tyrant, Handsome Flycatcher, Smoke-colored Pewee, Dusky Bush-Tanager and Tricolored Brush-Finch.
Our last morning at Tatama National Park dawned sunny and bright and we birded at various altitudes, picking up a good number of new birds throughout the morning. These included the very uncommon Solitary Eagle, which circled above us calling loudly. We enjoyed great looks at a Brown Inca feeding on flowers in the forest, we admired a male Golden-headed Quetzal and three fantastic Toucan Barbets. We managed to prize two more tapaculos out of the forest, Narino and the very recently discovered Alto Pisones Tapaculo. We taped in a couple of Rufous-browed Tyrannulets, a Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant put in a brief appearance, I glimpsed a White-capped Dipper and we had great looks at the range restricted White-headed Wren. We greatly admired the aptly named, Beautiful Jay and we added two more species of flowerpiercers, the Indigo and the Bluish. In the afternoon we drove directly to Otun-Quimbaya National Park.
We spent the following morning birding along the main track in the Outun-Quimbaya National Park. Very quickly we found the two main target birds of this area, the endemic Cauca Guan and the striking Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. We also saw a male Uniform Antshrike and a stunning male White-winged Tanager. We then went off the track and into the rainforest, in the hope of calling into view the rarely observed Moustached Antpitta, one of the more difficult of all the antpittas. After much coaxing a bird perched on a small branch one foot above the ground, no more than a few metres away from us, for quite some time. The birding then got a little more hectic as the mixed-species flocks gathered for their morning wanderings. A Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet was observed in the canopy and eventually it came down low enough to be seen well, an impressive Rusty-winged Barbtail slowly worked its way up a moss-encrusted branch and a Variegated Bristle-Tyrant flitted around overhead. Both Common and Ashy-throated Bush-Tanagers hunted together within the flock and finally a fitting end to the morning birding occurred when we saw the uncommon and endemic Multicolored Tanager for a prolonged period of time.
In the afternoon we saw a Central American Aguti, sat in the middle of the track as we walked down to a fast flowing mountain stream, where we enjoyed a great spectacle from a pair of Torrent Ducks. On the way back we found a Golden-olive Woodpecker in the grounds of our lodge. Following dinner we did a little spotlighting and had tremendously close views of a pair of White-winged Nightjars and super close looks at the endemic Colombian Screech-Owl.
A final morning in Otun-Quimbaya National Park produced yet more new birds; a pair of Booted Racket-tails performed nicely for us, a female Collared Trogon popped up in front of us, there was a quick sighting of a pair of Acorn Woodpeckers, an Ashy-headed Tyrannulet was picked out amongst one of the mixed-species feeing flocks, a male Blackpoll Warbler, a migrant from North America, was seen well and a Giant Cowbird was observed begging for food from its foster parents. We then drove to Pereira Airport and flew to Bogata, Colombia's capital city. We then drove to Laguna Sieche to do some birding for a couple of hours. During the drive a White-tailed Kite was observed flying close to the side of the road. Once at the lagoon we found several pairs of American Coots a very obliging and endemic Silvery-throated Spinetail, enormous numbers of wintering Collared Sand Martins, which included a few wintering Barn and Cliff Swallows. We enjoyed watching several very attractive Yellow-hooded Blackbirds and at dusk we were surrounded by a large number of wintering Common Nighthawks. This was a fitting end to the birding on this magnificent tour to the wonderful and bird- rich country of Colombia.