Friday, 7 March 2014

COLOMBIA Birding 2014 - Introduction

I recently got back from 2 months birding/volunteering/vacation in beautiful Colombia. Why Colombia? Two reasons. Firstly, I like to travel and backpack around "exotic" countries where most people haven't visited before. While tourism is booming in Colombia, it's very easy to get off the tourist track and experience the real Colombia and see how average Colombians work and live.

Map borrowed from:

Secondly, Colombia is a birdwatchers heaven! Over 1900 species have been recorded in Colombia - the most of any country in the world.  Colombia also has scores of endemic species and near endemic species that it shares with only 1 or 2 other countries so there are all kinds of specialities to hunt for. 

My original plan was to blog while I was down there but I found proper internet lacking in most places I was staying at. Thus, I'm going to try and throw up some photos and information about my trip on here. I probably won't include too much text in future blog posts but feel free to message me for more information if you have any questions. 

Positioned at the top of South America, Colombia gets many North American migrants, including thousands of American Flamingos. I think these guys originate from some Caribbean islands. 

 Velvet-purple Coronet at Las Tangaras Reserve. Near endemic (also NW Ecuador) found on the western slope of the Andes. 

Emerald Toucanet (subspecies Lautus) at Santa Marta. Without going into the debate of "What is a species?", there are numerous subspecies in different regions of Colombia. The different subspecies often occur on different mountain ranges, or in different valleys. Many species are undergoing splits and being upgraded to full species status all the time so it pays to try and see the different subspecies while you are in different areas. Using ebird to enter my sightings helps me keep track of some splits, although sometimes it doesn't recognize splits that others recognize.

 Feeders are a great place to snag some photos and study the birds with ease. Blue-naped Chlorophonia and Blue-caped Tanager at the El Dorado Lodge in the mountains above Santa Marta.


January 2nd-9th - Family Christmas vacation with my mom and two brothers around Cartagena on the Caribbean coast. Opportunistic birding, not too intense. 

January 9th-19th- Birding Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta area (big endemic area), birding Guajira (desert region in the north)

January 20th-February 10th - Volunteering at ProAves Reserve Las Tangaras in the Choco region (very wet pacific slope of western Andes). 

February 11th - February 19th -Volunteering at a ProAves Reserve that conserves the Yellow-eared Parrot at Jardin.

February 20th - 27th - Birding at two other ProAves reserves before flying home.

Santa Marta Parakeet - Endemic and endangered species found only in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of Northern Colombia. 

View from the road within Las Tangaras reserve. 
Up above the treeline in the "Paramo", a scrubby, grassy ecosystem where several new bird species have been recently discovered.

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