Good to hear from you. My understanding is that Colombia has more endemic
species (fauna and flora) than any other countryP.
On 23/12/13 7:18 AM, "Mick Roderick" <> wrote:
> Hi Denise - a slight amendment to your second paragraph - remove the word
> "endemic" from the second sentence. I think Indonesia makes that claim, with
> Australia second.
> But then, maybe you're not talking about birds in that sentence??
> On Sunday, 22 December 2013 11:42 AM, Denise Goodfellow
> <> wrote:
> Recently I flew to Colombia as a guest of that government, to participate in
> the Colombian Bird Festival held at Manizales in the department of Caldas
> I was one of two intercontinental speakers. The invitation came from Sergio
> Ocampo-Tobòn, a past President of the Colombia Birding Network and founder
> of the Festival.
> It is most appropriate that Colombia has a Bird Festival - it has over 1870
> bird species; probably nearer 1880 now - photos of some newly discovered
> species were shown for the first time at the Festival . Indeed, Colombia is
> a megadiverse country and has more endemic species than any other,
> although by area it is only about 1/8th the size of Australia.
> Much has been written about Colombia that is negative. Much has also been
> written about the airline on which I travelled, Aerolineas Argentina, that
> was also negative. Armed with that knowledge and a travel itinerary I
> couldn’t interpret, I set out with some trepidation. The first November
> cyclone to hit the Top End in forty years delayed travel by a day, not an
> auspicious omen.
> But instead of an old aircraft with broken seats, dirty toilets, terrible
> food and disinterested cabin crew, I found a spanking new airbus, a spotless
> interior and crew that almost rivalled Qantas in their professionalism.
> Although I didn’t speak the language, and was unfamiliar with the culture I
> never felt isolated or unsafe. Some stranger always came forward to help
> a professional woman; a young man; a primary school student; and even when
> they didn't, somehow I could always make myself understood
> The hotel, Recinto del Pensamiento, where I was to stay, was the equal of a
> four-star hotel in Australia, and Manizales, far from being a hotbed of
> ongoing revolution or guerrillas, was a beautiful city that in many ways
> resembled Adelaide in appearance and pace, except it was perched on a ridge
> in the mountains, and had more universities (twelve in all)!
> Recinto was also the site of the Bird Festival. The launch began with the
> playing of the national, department and city anthems to which we all stood.
> Maria Claudia Garcia-Gomez , the President of COTELCO, the national hotel
> and tourism association, launched the Festival The next day, the Governor of
> the state of Caldas, Julian Gutierrez-Boter, came to speak. Both
> highlighted the importance of birdwatching tourism as did Felipe Rincon
> Cardenas, President of the chain of hotels of which Recinto de Pensamiento
> was one. Over lunch he told me of the involvement of coffee growers in
> supporting birdwatching.
> While some speakers highlighted the diversity of birds and other wildlife in
> their regions, others talked about conservation problems - including
> authorities such as Dr. Juan David Arango Gartner who addressed urban river
> issues, and Andrea Ferreira of Paraguay who spoke for the preservation of
> biodiversity of grasslands. Andrea is the Sustainable Tourism Coordinator
> for an NGO. She said that cattle are monitored on the pampas and are shifted
> around to allow grassland to recover for nesting and feeding birds. Her
> organization is also working with farmers to improve roads and vehicles so
> that they can have visitors on their country.
> Juan Paulo was a most inspirational speaker. Born blind in 1986 he taught
> himself to recognise thousands of different birds calls. Working with 25
> 000 bird records in a lab, he can recognize the bird, the time of day it is
> calling, the natural environment and “the sounds of the earth”. In
> grassland JP recorded 10-12 species singing all at once and could identify
> them all. Furthermore he could pick out 25 tones in one call.
> Uttej Rao, the only other intercontinental speaker, talked of birding in
> Gujarat, a state in India that shares a border with Pakistan. He said that
> locals considered it a sin to kill birds and so the birds were unafraid of
> humans and in large numbers.
> Guto Carvalho spoke about birding in Brazil. The population of that country
> is 250 million, of which about 30 000 are birders. But the interest is so
> great that Gutto estimates it will reach 1 million in a few years. He said
> that birdwatching tended to be internal with relatively few birders
> traveling to Brazil from other countries.
> I spoke on the threats to north Australian grasslands/floodplains and
> woodlands from weeds, destructive fires, cyclones and sea level rise.
> Several speakers mentioned the importance of working with communities, but
> because I didn't always have a translator I cannot comment on their
> particular approaches. However one, Luis Fernando Jaramillo, spoke of his
> work with Indigenous people and birds which included attempting to limit
> their attempts to force those people off their lands. Later, with Juan
> Paulo translating I told him of Top End Indigenous rangers allegedly forced
> to resign to the detriment of parks they'd once looked after, and of course
> visitors. I couldn’t help but compare the empathic reaction of Luis and
> others at the Festival to the response of some at the Wildlife Tourism
> Australia workshop where I first raised the issue.
> At morning tea I got my first look at the birds of Recinto Great and Snowy
> Cattle Egret, Great Blue Heron, American Vulture, Southern Lapwing, Eastern
> and Tropical Kingbird, White-collared Swift, Rufous-collared Sparrow and
> House Wren. Because I had no guide I mostly had to figure out what I was
> seeing myself, checking with Sergio whenever I could. Other birds I knew
> from the US. At other breaks I saw Cattle Egret, Black Phoebe, Bananaquit,
> Pale-edged Flycatcher, Palm Tanager, Great Thrush, Saffron Finch, Lesser
> Goldfinch and Yellow-bellied Siskin.
> On the last day I at last had the chance to climb the mountain behind
> Recintos to visit the hummingbird house. However I had to return early to
> sort out my itinerary, really the only low point of the whole trip. If I'd
> taken my scheduled flight back to Bogotá, I stood a good chance of missing
> my connecting flight to Buenos Aires. Sorting out the mess took hours and
> caused poor Natalia, the lass trying to fix it, much despair.
> Then I discovered that all the photos I’d taken of birds and the conference
> were missing. Others had scheduled a trip to see antipittas in the
> afternoon but I decided to return to at least try to record some of the
> hummingbirds again.
> Species at the hummingbird house included Sparkling and Green Violet-ear,
> Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Speckled Hummingbird, Buff-tailed Coronet, Bronzy
> Inca, and White-bellied Woodstar. Hopping around the fuschias and other
> potted shrubs was a little black bird with an upturned beak White-sided
> A general article on my visit has already been published on the web
> <www.impress.com.au> and I'll be writing another in January (for The Weekend
> Australian) plus another more focused on the birds for a US birding journal.
> Lastly, I have no hesitation in recommending Manizales and its department of
> Caldas to birders and other wildlife enthusiasts. Indeed Colombia has much
> to offer all sorts of visitors. And incidentally I've felt far more unsafe
> walking the streets of Darwin than I ever felt in Colombia. If anyone would
> like more information please don't hesitate to contact me.
> My thanks to the Birding Aussers who kindly sent me information. I wish you
> all the happiest of New Years.
> Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow
> PO Box 71, Darwin River,
> NT 0841
> 043 8650 835
> PhD candidate, SCU
> Vice-chair, Wildlife Tourism Australia