I just got back from 3 weeks with Birdquest in Colombia and 2 weeks in
Ecuador on a private tour, and thought birders would be interested on the
The dates of the trip were changed from April-May in 1998 to June-July in
199 because of heavy rain during the 1998 trip. We also had a fair bit of
rain - it should be pointed out that the months of highest rainfall vary
considerably in different parts of Colombia, so it's impossible to avoid
rain altogether. But it can be said that there was no bird that we would
have seen had it not been for rain.
We did less well on Antpittas than the 1998 group. With a few notable
exceptions (Brown-banded and Santa Marta Antpittas), the Antpittas tended
to answer the tape, but not to come in. On the other hand, we did
excellently with Tapaculos, which were very responsive, and had displaying
Blossomcrown, which was missed in 1998
We had no untoward events on the trip. The organisers were very careful to
stick to safe territory.
Highlight bird of the trip was Colorful Puffleg, discovered by John Dunning
in 1967, and since then probably seen by no more than have a dozen
individuals, almost all Colombian. All members of the group got excellent
views of the bird.
In what follows, I'll ignore very common birds like Blue-Gray and Palm
Tanager and Cattle Egret.
On Saturday 12/6, we headed to Loma L'Aurora, temperate shrubbery and
forest on the outskirts of Bogota and a few hundred metres higher. This is
an endangered habitat, almost entirely destroyed by human settlement.
Highlights included 4 Andean Guan, Green Violetear (3), Sparkling Violetear
(30+), Speckled Hummingbird (2), Blue-throated Starfrontlet (1), Glowing
Puffleg (6), Coppery-bellied Puffleg (missed by me), Bronze-tailed
Thornbill (1 a major surprise, seen by about half the group),White Bellied
Woodstar (2), Silvery-throated Spinetail (common), Rufous-rumped Tapaculo
(1S), Red-crested Cotinga (1) White-throated Tyrannulet
(20),Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant (1),Eastern Meadowlark (3), Rufous-browed
Conebill (2S, an endemic), Bluish (30), Masked (3), Black (16) and
White-sided (10) Flowerpiercers, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanger (6),
Superciliaried Hemispingus (12), Black-backed Grosbeak (3), Slaty
Brush-Finch(20), and Andean Siskin (12).
In the afternoon, we went to La Conejera, part of the small remaining
remnant of wetland in the Sabana de Bogota. We did very well. A very
responsive Apolinar's Marsh Wren came roaring in and displayed beautifully
and at length right in front of us. We had great views of Noble Snipe (5)
in display flights and perched. After some searching, we had scope views
of Bogota Rail (4). In the trees we had Spectacled Parrotlet (6 including
adults feeding young).
Day 2 13/6 we birded the West Slope of the Eastern Andes (1600-1100m),
first Laguna Pedro Paulo, then coffee country around La Mesa, finally
around the crest at 2900 m. Birds included Andean Duck (1,) Crested
Bobwhite (1), Gray-rumped Swift (2), Green Hermit (2), Black-throated Mango
(1), Red-billed Emerald (1), Violet-crowned Woodnymph (3),Rufous-tailed
Hummingbird and White-vented Plumleteer (both 3), Black Inca (1 -an
absolute stunner!), Booted Racket-tail (1), Emerald Toucanet (1),
Red-crowned Woodpecker (3), Streak-headed Woodcreeper (1), Azara's (1) and
Pale-breasted (1) Spinetails, Slaty Spinetail (3), Ash-browed Spinetail
(2,Montane Foliage-gleaner (1) Barred and Bar-crested Antshrike (1
each),Sooty-headed (1)and Golden-faced Tyrannulet (2), Speckle-breasted
Wren (1)Pale-breasted (1) and Black-billed (4) Thrush, Rufous-naped
Greenlet (1), the rare Turquoise Dacnis (Pseudodacnis hartlaubi)
(2),Velvet-fronted Euphonia (2. Tanagers included Fawn-breasted (2),
Flame-faced (2), Blue-necked (10), Scrub (6), Black-capped (3), Blue-capped
(1),Crimson-backed (12), White-lined (1), and memorably Rosy-Thrush-Tanager
(1). Grayish (1) and Streaked (2) Saltator, Moustached Brush Finch (1).
Day 3, Monday 14/6 was spend birding along the Autopista Medellin on the
west slope of the Eastern Andes with stops in intermontane valleys.
More Spectacled Parrotlets (20), 50 Orange-chinned Parakeets, and nice
views of Blue-headed Parrot (2). 2 Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift,
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (1) and White-vented Plumeleteeer (2).
Spot-breasted (1 male) and Red-rumped (1) Woodpeckers. 2 Stripe-breasted
Spinetail were seen. Barred Antshrike (5) abd Bar-crested Antshrike heard
again. A beautiful Jet Antbird with white wing margins and white tail tips
was a lifer for me, and we had good looks at both sexes of White-bellied
Antbird. A female Cinereous Becard showed up, as did a Tawny-crowned Pygmy
Tyrant. The Colombian bird appears quite distinct from the form that I saw
in Peru and is probably a good species.Quite a few swallows: Brown-bellied
(5), Blue-and-white (10) and Southern Rough-winged (10). 3 Black-chested
Jays were lifers for me, as were 2 Band-backed Wrens, 1 Speckle-breasted
Wren (Thryothorus sclateri, called Spot-Breasted in Hilty). Scrub Greenlet
(4), a single Giant Cowbird, and good looks at a difficult and local
species,Gray-throated Warbler. 2 Chestnut-capped Warblers were lifers for
me as was Buff-rumped Warbler (1). 2 Thick-billed Euphonias (the first of
many on succeeding days.) 12 Scrub Tangers, another Rosy-Thrush-Tanager,
Black-striped Sparrow (1), 1 male Lesser Seed-Finch, 2 male Gray
Seedeaters, Yellow-bellied (4) and Rusty-breasted (2) Seedeaters and 2
Day 4, Tuesday 15/6 was spent in humid foothill forest at La Victoria
(1000m) northwest of Honda. In the afternoon we drove to Doradel, to the
Hotel La Colina, which is opposite the former estate of the late Pablo
Escobar. In the afternoon we walked to the Oilbird cave (Gruta de Condor(!)).
Savanna Hawk (1), Roadside Hawk (5 including 1 chick on a nest),
Yellow-headed Caracara (4) and Laughing Falcon (1) and Bat Falcon (1) both
perched in the open.
Purple Gallinule (1) and 5 Wattled Jacanas of the all black race
melanopygia. I think this should be split!
First Pale-vented Pigeons (2) for the trip, more Ruddy Ground-Doves, Blue
Ground-Dove and Ruddy Quail-Dove were only heard.
We had over 200 Oilbirds in the cave, a memorable experience. Pauraque
(1).and 1 Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris) was seen. 2
Blue-chested Hummingbirds were lifers. Amazon Kingfisher (1). A highlight
of the day was good views of the endemic White-maintled Barbet at La
Victoria. We had 2 White-fronted Nunbirds at the Oildbird Cave, 1
Olivaceous Piculet, and Red-billed Scythebill was heard only. 2 Western
Slaty-Antshrike were seen, as was 1 Dull-mantled Antbird and 1 Black-faced
Antthrush. Chestnut-backed Antbird and Immaculate Antbird were only heard
this day, though both were seen on the next day.
1 female Golden-headed Manakin was seen, plus 3 Bearded Manakins, and
Striped Manakin was heard. Cinnamon Becard was a lifer for me, as were 2
Antioquia Bristle-Tyrants (endemic) at La Victoria.Southern bentbill was
heard only. 2 Brownish Flycatchers were seen well near the cave. Other
flycatchers included Streaked (2) and Piratic (2). The first White-winged
Swallows (10) of the trip occurred, and 2 Gray-breasted Martins were seen
perched on one of the roofs of the virtually derelict Moorish village that
Escobar build for his employees. Sooty-headed Wren (new for me) was
unfortunately heard only, though 1 Bay Wren was seen. Black-billed
Peppershrike was a lifer, as was Yellow-browed Shrike-Vireo. This bird
does a good imitation of a leaf as it sits motionless in a tree calling,
and was not easy to find, but finally everyone had great scope views of the
yellow eyebrows.5 Yellow-hooded Backbirds were seen in rushes near the
hotel. We had more Chestnut-capped and Buff-rumped Warblers, 2 Green
Honeycreepers and 2 Swallow- Tanagers. We had our first Golden-hooded
Tanger (1), a lifer for me, 1 Bay-headed and 2 Scrub Tanagers. 4 Sooty
Ant-Tanagers with their bubble-gum markings were delightful, and 2
Dusky-faced Tanagers were lifers too. Black-faced Tanager (1) was a good
bird. 2 Dull-colored Grassquits were finally seen.
Associate Professor John M. Penhallurick<>
Phone BH( 61 2) 6201 2346 AH (61 2) 62585428
FAX (61 2) 6258 0426
Snail Mail Faculty of Communication
University of Canberra,A.C.T.2601, AUSTRALIA
OR PO Box 3469, BMDC, BELCONNEN, ACT 2617, AUSTRALIA
"I'd rather be birding!"
"Vivat,crescat,floreat Ornithologia" Hartert,Vog.pal.Fauna,p.2016.
"The market where possible, the state where necessary"(?Margaret Thatcher?)
"Sunt lacrimae rerum." Virgil, Aeneid,i,462.
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