2 Mar 2018

2 Mar 18 - Colombia: Parrots In The Mist

Obviously, the alarms went off well before dawn so we could get into some jeeps for a slow & bouncy ride up into the hills above Jardin. Our main target species for the day was the endangered Yellow-eared Parrot. This was a species that was thought to be extinct up until 1999 when around eighty individuals were discovered in the Colombia Andes. Thanks to good campaigns to raise its plight with local communities & also to protect its habitat, the population has grown. One of the problems is its main tree, the Quindio Wax Palm is also a threatened tree. The tree used to be used for Palm Sunday processions, but part of the work with local communities & the church, has greatly improved protection for the trees, with alternatives being used for the processions. The main Colombian Bird NGO, ProAves, has created a couple of reserves & put up nest boxes on the Palms to help provide additional nesting holes. This has been a successful campaign and the population is now around 1500 individuals.
A lone Quindio Wax Palm
It was a cold wait in the mist for the first sighting
It was very misty at first light, but slowly the mist started to clear. We saw a couple of Yellow-eared Parrots flying towards our viewing point on a small ridge. Fortunately, they landed, but not particularly close. Soon after a few more flew in & landed in a bit closer in some of the Palms. They were followed by others until we had seen around twenty of these lovely Parrots.
Yellow-eared Parrot: The light wasn't great as they were flying in
Yellow-eared Parrot: Most settled in these trees
Yellow-eared Parrot: A great looking Parrot
Yellow-eared Parrot: They are a near endemic as there is a small population in Northern Ecuador
We saw a reasonable selection of other species as we walked down the main track towards the town. However, it was a morning when few species were photogenic.
Walking back down the main track: It's clear why we used jeeps, rather than taking the bus
Black-billed Mountain Toucan: This species occurs from Colombia & W Venezuela to NE Ecuador
Streak-throated Bush-tyrant: This species occurs from Colombia & Venezuela to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia & NW Argentina
Golden-fronted Whitestart: This is the yellow-faced chrysops subspecies
Slaty Brush-finch
Montbretia: This looks similar to the Montbretias that grow in my garden. The family is native to East & Southern Africa & therefore these must have been introduced into South America
These flowers look like they will be popular with the local Hummingbirds
After a good morning's Birding despite the mist, we returned to the hotel in Jardin to collect our bags. The rest of the day was spent on a long & slow drive to the Rio Claro reserve.
Green Iguana: It was a largely uneventful drive, with this Green Iguana being the highlight
Medellin: There were a number of hillsides around the city that were as packed as this hillside
No surprise, that we were stuck in a few traffic jams in the Medellin area
We didn't arrive until after it was dark. As we stepped out of the bus, it was distinctly warm & humid. Having spent most of the trip at altitude, the next couple of days were going to be a big shock as we were only around 350 metres asl.