24 Feb 2018

24 Feb 18 - Colombia: Andean Pygmy-owl & White-capped Tanager

While the other four Birdwatchers were having their lunch at the accommodation block, there was time to photograph some of the Hummingbirds that were arriving for their lunch. Although the reality of lunch for many Hummingbirds is probably an extended breakfast which starts soon after they leave their roost site & finishes just before they head off to roost. Finally, it was our turn for lunch.
Long-tailed Sylph: Another widespread South American species which occurs from Colombia & Venezuela to Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia
Collared Inca
Collared Inca: It is always good to have an easy to identify Hummingbird
Buff-tailed Coronet: The buff in the outer tail feathers & the bend of the wing help to identify this species
Fawn-breasted Brilliant: This species occurs in the Andes of Colombia, Ecuador & Peru
Lunch over, we headed back into the upper forest.
The forest looked excellent
Another forest view 
Streaked Xenops: The Xenops group are some of the smallest of the 300 or so Ovenbirds & Woodcreepers family
The afternoon was good for Tapaculos with Ocellated Tapaculo, Spillmann's Tapaculo & Blackish Tapaculo seen & Ash-coloured Tapaculo heard. Tapaculos are one of the trickier Neotropical families to figure out. About 75% of the family are small, dark grey or black species with a few having a hint of white on the forehead & maybe a patch of chestnut around the vent. They are incredibly skulky & generally scurry around on the ground like Mice in the darkest of ground vegetation. Their one saving grace is they can be enticed to investigate recordings, when they will sometimes show close to the forest edge. It's then a matter of luck if you catch a movement & they pose briefly in a more open area for a photo. Thanks to Janos's knowledge of their calls & ability to pull them out with recordings, I managed to see thirteen species of Tapaculos on the Colombia trip.
Ocellated Tapaculo: This is the exception in Colombia to the rule of non-descript dark grey or black Tapaculos. It's a big & bulky species with obvious white spots with a bright rufous face & rump. It's a pity I wasn't in the right place when it showed clearly without vegetation in the way
Blackish Tapaculo: This is fairly typical of the rest of the Tapaculos in Colombia
One of the species that we saw that afternoon was my first Andean Pygmy-owl. This is a small, dirurnal forest Owl that occurs in the Andes of Colombia & Venezuela to Ecuador & Peru.
Andean Pygmy-owl
Andean Pygmy-owl: To confuse predators, they have these obvious white markings on the nape
Masked Trogon: There are 29 species of Neotropical Trogons & Quetzels. It's important to note the head & belly colouration and undertail pattern. The red belly with the white separating band & broad white patches on a black tail confirm the identification
Masked Trogon: Trogons can be really tricky to figure out from the back
The other big highlight of the afternoon was my first White-capped Tanager.
White-capped Tanager: They are a very large & distinctive Tanager
White-capped Tanager: They occur from Colombia & West Venezuela to Ecuador & Peru
One of the interesting things about wandering around in tropical forests is some of the bizarre species you sometimes bump into. I try to avoid touching trees or plants before looking at them first, to reduce the chances of leaning on trees with large Ants or other invertebrates on them. Likewise, I'm checking plants for those with spikes or thorns.
Fly: This looked like a normal looking Fly, until I looked a bit closer to see the heavy defences
A leaf best avoided
However, not everything in the forest was worth avoiding as the following photos show.
Flower sp.
Pink Orchid sp.
Orange Orchid sp.
Although we hadn't been allowed to arrive till after first light, there didn't seem to be a problem staying in the reserve until dusk & so we were on the main track at dusk when a White-throated Screech-owl & a Rufous-bellied Nighthawk provided some final Nightbird entertainment. Soon after we were back in the minibus at the main accommodation block to head back to hotel in Manizales. The Rio Blanco reserve had been a good place to visit.