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COLOMBIA

Saturday 2nd March - Sunday 24th March 2013

János Oláh

Blossomcrown (János Oláh)

Blossomcrown (János Oláh)

Our 2010 Colombia tour to the most bird-rich country on earth left little doubt this welcoming country is worthy of its title. We notched up an impressive list of 669 species, which included seeing no fewer than 35 species of conservation concern. In addition to the critically endangered Yellow-eared Parrot, we saw a further 10 endangered species all of which were country endemics with very small ranges (Cauca Guan, Bogotá Rail, Santa Marta Parakeet, White-mantled Barbet, Brown-banded Antpitta, Chestnut-capped Piha, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Apolinar’s Marsh-Wren, Gold-ringed Tanager and Red-bellied Grackle). The group highlights included both widespread species and rare or little known birds only rediscovered in recent years. The runaway winner for bird of the trip was the Multicoloured Tanager; our sighting of a picturesque male up close will be a cherished birding memory for years to come. The large Northern Screamer was runner up, a hard-earned Ocellated Tapaculo was also popular, and the seldom-seen Masked Saltator was a Birdquest lifer that performed beautifully! Other highlights included a point-blank Noble Snipe, a trio of Scaled, Chestnut and Greyish Piculets, colourful Black-billed and Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucans, Moustached Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, the lovely White-tipped Quetzal, the weird Oilbird and Dwarf Cuckoo. Our 53 species of hummers included Purple-backed Thornbill, the lovely White-tailed Starfrontlet, Black-thighed Puffleg, Santa Marta Woodstar and the stunning Bearded Helmetcrest. More great sightings included a pair of Lanceolated Monklets, the desirable Flammulated Treehunter, the smart White-whiskered Spinetail, Chestnut-crowned and Santa Marta Antpittas, Orange-breasted and Golden-breasted Fruiteaters, a pair of Chestnut-crested Cotingas and a superb lek of Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks. We had a very obliging Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, an also easy Apical Flycatcher, the superb Beautiful Jay, seldom-seen Black Solitaires, shy Tanager-Finches, punkish Crested Ant-Tanagers, a fantastic selection of other tanagers including Purplish-mantled, Black-and-gold and Gold-ringed Tanagers, Golden-collared Honeycreeper and Indigo Flowerpiercer and the smart-looking Golden-winged Sparrow. Our birding experience overall was very successful; however this year’s El Niño conditions were clearly affecting the birds at some of the sites. Normally humid sites suffered drought-like conditions and arid sites near the coast were flooded with rain! The many birdy mountain roads and wide, forested jeep tracks were a real pleasure to bird, and we enjoyed several well-designed forest trails. We found the general feeling in the countryside was one of genuine friendliness, and we often crossed paths with weekenders on bicycles enjoying their own parks and reserves. Colombia’s emphasis on education and investment in their growing economy has made it one of the cleanest and safest countries on the continent. Come and see for yourself!

Bearded Helmetcrest (János Oláh)

Bearded Helmetcrest (János Oláh)