Colombia – Minus Aunty

I’m in Colombia for a few weeks with work, and on my free Saturday I just had to organise a bird tour to sample some of the huge biodiversity that the country has to offer. Aunty isn’t with me this time and has been left at home. My base for this trip is Bogota and so the bridging trip was arranged around place near to the city. The weather here is good, and just entering the rainy season. though that said there are major thunderstorms each evening which has disrupted a number of my internal flights the last week. But no artificial flights today – only natural ones. My guide Alejandro Pinto Gomez is a young biologist who specialises in birds and so I was able to ask a lot of stupid questions. He is setting up his own tour company and so hopes to expand in the next few years into the Amazon Valley as well.

Tabacal Lagoon

Your first stop was to Tabacal Lagoon, a small private nature reserve up in the eastern Andes. Being rather dull, I didn’t realise that my camera settings were wrong until we were coming to end of this little piece of paradise. But that didn’t matter too much as it was too dark really in the forest for taking photos, and the main point is to see the birds and not live the experience through the camera. We saw 38 different species in this short trip. The highlight was an Osprey fishing on the far side of the lagoon – to far to make an decent photos. The whole process involves a lot of peering into dark shrubs and forests trying to see the birds you know are there. it sometimes becomes a battle of determination, I can hear it and I WILL see it!

Saffron Finch – Sicalis flaveola. A flash of brilliant colour on the edge of the forest

Bare-faced Ibis – Phimosus infuscatus. These chaps were very busy squabbling, jumping up and down and generally being busy the whole time I watched them.

Crimson-backed Tanager – Ramphocelus dimidiatus. You’d have thought that will that bright red breast it would be easy to see one of the these. Let me tell you here it wasn’t! This chap was high in the dark tree tops.

An unidentified butterfly – it may not have a name but it certainly has pizzazz

After a couple of hours at Tabacal we then drove back down the Andes to a small to the small town of San Francisco, seemingly perched on the steep slopes of the valley.

San Francisco Colombian style.

Here 10 years ago a lady set up 2 sugar feeders for hummingbirds. She now has 34 feeders and opens up the garden to visitors. The garden was alive with birds. I didn’t know where to look as these impossibly bright tiny bird frantically flew backwards and forward between feeders. Every time I focuses on one there would be a flash of colour at the edge of my vision and I’d just have to look to see what it was, then it would have a gain and again making me dizzy. It was difficult to put the camera down and just watch the show as it unfolded in front of me. Bloody fantastic! In all we saw 12 different species, and I have to admit it will take me some time to track them all down in my photographs even though I was making notes. But here are just a few that I think I’ve got the right identification.

Glowing Puffleg – Ericnemesis vestitia. An apt name don’t you think? Those White feathers make it look as if it’s wearing long-johns.

White-bellied Woodstar – Chaetocerus mulsant. A seriously small hummingbird at around 3 inches. It was always busy and never settled once.

Green Violetear – Colibri thalassinus. The colours say it al – there’s nothing I can add.l

 After an hour or so in the garden we headed off to a late lunch, but it was difficult to leave. Then it was back towards Bogota and the  La Florida Wetlands. The aim was to try and see the secretive Bogota Crake and the Spot-Flanked Gallinule. The weather was beginning to threaten with another thunderstorm, and the cloud cover made it a little dark, but we preserved. We did see the Spot-Flanked Gallinule – but it was a long way off in the middle of the lake. But I did get a photo of it’s cousin the Purple Gallinule.

Gallinule. Looking very much like the Moorhen back home in the UK.

Lesser Yellow-legs – Tringia flavipes. A member of the Sandpiper family. I am always caught out by how small sandpipers are.

Yellow-hooded Blackbird – Chrysomus icterocephalus. The contrast between the colours here is amazing. It’s obviously not trying to hide from predators!

Rufous-collared Sparrow – Zonotrichia capensis. Looks more like a member of the bunting family than a sparrow. but I like sparrows and so he’s included.

 OK so we didn’t see the elusive Bogota Crake, but we did hear two of them. I was sure they were laughing at us. Next time maybe. It was a long day with a 5.30am start, but a great day. Just as we got back to the car the heavens opened and the thunder started to crash around us. but I didn’t care. I had seen a total of 68 new birds. As Wallace would say “It was a grand day out”



5 thoughts on “Colombia – Minus Aunty

  1. Fabulous photos, Paul! Colombia is an amazing country for wildlife as you are fast finding out. Enjoy the rest of your time.


    1. Many thanks Anne. All to often when I travel with work all I see is the airport, the taxi, the dialysis centre then back to the airport. Back to a punishing schedule of daily return flights around Colombia for the rest of the week – but this is made up by the welcome I get from the staff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like you’re doing very good work. 🙂


  2. My knees have turned green with envy! Can’t stop have to get back to my Violet eared Mother!


    1. Paul you caught me out! I had to check that you were doing your usual pun or my spell was up the duff.


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