Random notes on the travels of a Welshman who has been allowed out to play after finishing his chores. OK so I don't travel with my Aunt, but I am usually under the adult supervision of my long suffering wife.
You can’t ignore it. It stands there brooding over the city of Bogota. Almost threatening with its sheer bulk. Montserrat at 3125 meters high is just there. So what else is there to do on a Sunday in Bogota but to ascend to the top. Now I did cheat a little, OK l cheated a lot. I got onto a cable car.
Although you can get a crick in the neck looking up, the view looking down over the city is breathtaking. It’s a shame that the air couldn’t have been a little clearer, but it was looking like another thunderstorm was coming.
In 1640 the Governer of Colombia gave the order to build a church on top of the mountain, and it was finally completed in 1657. Now I take my hat of to the people who built the church then. Without modern equipment it must have been really tough carrying all the material to the top. Glad it wasn’t me. As I was walking around I was getting a little breathless, thinking I was really unfit unti I remember that I was over 10,000 feet up a mountain.
The place was heaving with visitors and worshippers. But I could see there was rain on the way so I cut short my visit and took the furnicular railway down before the rush started.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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”