Welcome to Birdquest

COLOMBIA

Saturday 4th February - Sunday 26th February 2017

Pete Morris

This wonderful Hooded Antpitta was a Birdquest Lifer!! (Pete Morris)

This wonderful Hooded Antpitta was a Birdquest Lifer!! (Pete Morris)

With a country list of nearly 1900, and around 80 endemics, Colombia is quite simply an amazing country to go birding in! It also has excellent infrastructure (rivalling any other country on the continent), friendly people and a real endemic birding culture, with many excellent resident birders and ornithologists. Thankfully the conservation movement is strong too, and as a result, many important habitats and areas are well protected by a series of well run reserves. The main reasons for the degree of endemism in Colombia is the fact that the Andes split into three, isolating two major valleys and their associated endemics, coupled with the breathtaking and isolated Santa Marta Mountains, another endemic hotbed. Not surprisingly, our endemic-packed tour focused on these areas, amassing an impressive list of endemics and near endemics. Once again, we recorded over 700 species, amongst which were a fantastic selection of sought-after endemics and near endemics. The exact number is rather dependant on definitions (for example some species considered endemic by some have actually been recorded just outside of Colombia) and taxonomy (for example some of the endemics have not been described yet!), but suffice to say we saw in excess of 50, an excellent return by any standards. The weather was largely kind too, with not much rain, making for generally pleasant birding. With so many species and so many cracking sightings, it’s difficult to pick out just a few highlights. Our bird of the trip was not an endemic, but the brilliant Ocellated Tapaculo which left us speechless after posing at point blank range. Another popular highlight was Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, a lek of which we watched incredulously at point blank range. Four antpittas in a morning was a brilliant highlight, dozens of hummingbirds (some at amazing hummingbird feeders) showed us colours that seemed barely feasible, and we had some superb sightings of rare owls including the yet-to-be-described Santa Marta Screech Owl, as well as White-throated Screech Owl and Black-and-white and Stygian Owls. Yellow-eared Parrots put on a magnificent display, difficult rarities such as Tawny-breasted Tinamou and Grey-cheeked Nunlet showed well, and old favourites such as Gold-ringed, Black-and-gold and White-capped Tanagers all performed to order. We also added two lifers to the ever-growing Birdquest lifelist, in the shape of a magnificent Hooded Antpitta and an obliging Tolima Blossomcrown! All in all, not too shabby!

The still to be described Santa Marta Screech Owl showed superbly (Pete Morris)

The still to be described Santa Marta Screech Owl showed superbly (Pete Morris)