6 Mar 2018

6 Mar 18 - Colombia: Posh Catalina

It was our first opportunity for any Birding in the endemic rich Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, having arrived after dark the evening before. The plan of getting to the top of the Santa Marta ridge above the El Dorado lodge, was complicated by the need to get going earlier to look for Owls. We had three 4WDs & unfortunately I was in the back one as we left. Therefore, we were a bit behind Janos, when he stopped the first 4WD for a recently described Santa Marta Screech-owl. As a result, it was looking away by the time I was trying to get some photos. Fortunately, I was a bit better prepared when Janos picked up a Stygian Owl later on. A two Owl Tick morning is a good way to start any day.
Santa Marta Screech-owl: This species had been known to be an undescribed species for at least the last decade, before finally been described in 2017
Stygian Owl: A species I had looked for unsuccessfully in a few Latin American countries. It occurs from Mexico to the Caribbean & as far South as Argentina. The name comes from the Greek for very dark
The rest of the drive to the ridge was uneventful, except for a few Band-winged Nightjars all flushed off the track by the lead 4WD & which we weren't aware of until we reached the top: fortunately not a Tick. There was a reasonable amount of early morning activity, but many species were quick to disappear back into the dense Bamboo & bush cover either side of the track.
 Santa Marta Mountain-tanager: Some of the names could be a bit more imaginative
Yellow-crowned Whitestart: That's another Santa Marta endemic seen
After checking various parties of Scaly-naped Parrots & Scarlet-fronted Parakeets, we finally saw our first Santa Marta Parakeets.
Santa Marta Parakeet
It had been a good start on the top of the ridge, but it was getting close to breakfast time. Not for us, as we had already had a snack, but for Catalina. She was a girl that was quite fussy about her food & when she wanted it. We headed down the hill to the met station where she lived.
Santa Marta Antpitta: After a bit of calling, Catalina appeared at the edge of the forest
Santa Marta Antpitta: Another Santa Marta endemic
Santa Marta Antpitta: Catalina took about a year to get used to being fed. Eventually, she would generally appear when called. The lady who was calling her in removed the plate & for several weeks, she refused to appear. It was only when the plate was returned, that Catalina started coming in again for food
Nearby, we tried a short forest trail which proved productive for Trogons with Masked Trogon & my first White-tipped Quetzal.
Masked Trogon: We had previously seen Masked Trogon at Rio Blanco, but this is the sanctaemartae subspecies
White-tipped Quetzal: Female
White-tipped Quetzal: We found the male nearby excavating a nest hole
White-tipped Quetzal: Male
It was late morning & we headed back to the El Dorado Lodge. But there was plenty of activity to keep us busy around the feeders. More in the next Blog Post.