31 Aug 2019

9 Mar 18 - Colombia: Old Cotton-top

Around mid afternoon, we arrived at the entrance to the Tayrona National Park. It took a few minutes to locate a guide, which we apparently needed, despite most visitors not needing one. However, most of the visitors were heading to the beach or the campsite just behind the beach & we had other reasons to visit. Actually, the local ranger was knowledgeable & although we lost a few minutes, waiting for him, he was a benefit. We hadn't driven far into the Park, before we were stopping for one of the first goodies: a Lance-tailed Manakin lek. Not a Tick, but I'm always happy to see Manakins, especially at a lek.
Lance-tailed Manakin: They occur from Costa Rica to North Colombia & Venezuela
Lance-tailed Manakin
Lance-tailed Manakin: As part of the display, they flicked one or both wings out & quickly in again. They also spread their red crest
We carried on towards the camp ground as this was one of the potential sites for the other main species we were looking for. Unfortunately, no luck, but there were a few other open country species in the area.
Yellow-headed Caracara: This is a widespread Latin American species. We had seen a few, but generally whilst travelling, so it was the first one I photographed
Carib Grackle: As its name suggests, this is one of the standard Caribbean Grackles, but it also occurs along the coast of Colombia, Venezuela & NE Brazil
As we were close to the sea, a few of us walked the extra hundred metres to the beach. The water was rough & didn't look like it was particularly safe for swimming. However, we did get to see the first Magnificent Frigatebirds of the trip.
Magnificent Frigatebird: A record shot of one of the individuals
Just after we rejoined the main group, I found this White-necked Puffbird in the campsite trees.
White-necked Puffbird: This species occurs from Mexico to Northern South America
White-necked Puffbird
It was time to keep looking for the main target species for the Park. They were clearly mobile & we needed to find some fruiting trees. After a bit more looking, we got lucky & saw the main target species for the afternoon: Cotton-headed Tamarins. This is the third species of Tamarin that I've seen in South America. I've also seen a few species in the better of the UK zoos. All the Tamarins have all been full of character.
Cotton-headed Tamarin: when we first found them, they were quite skittish
Cotton-headed Tamarin: They settled down a bit & then started to watch us
Cotton-headed Tamarin: Perhaps some of the locals are not as quiet & well behaved as we were
 Cotton-headed Tamarin: This one even started to forage for some food
Cotton-headed Tamarin: Unfortunately, they are critically endangered & are only found in this small corner of Colombia. This look went out of fashion after Tina Turner appeared in Mad Max 3
We were running out of time, but the guide had one more treat for us. The next photo is a clue.
Owl: Not an Owl, but it was a Nightbird
Great Potoo: Usually, there is a location on a Latin American trip where a there is a showy roosting Potoo, as Potoos sit still trying to pretend they are dead branches. The strategy must work well & it helps many a local guide
Great Potoo: They occur from Southern Mexico to Bolivia, Paraguay & Brazil
It was time to leave, but the park guide had one final surprise: a nesting Pale-bellied Hermit. Hummingbirds must build the most delicate of all nests.
Pale-bellied Hermit: Another Hummingbird for the trip list
One of the apparent downsides of the Tayrona National Park was it shut well before dark. Perhaps a good thing for the wildlife, given the numbers of non-wildlife visitors: but we would have happily carried on for a bit longer. We then had a slow journey along the coast road to our hotel for the last two nights of the trip: the Hotel La Jorara, which was a nice eco-lodge with very friendly staff. Well worth a visit.

28 Aug 2019

9 Mar 18 - Colombia: Hummers At Minca

Back at the hotel in Minca, we had the chance for some cool drinks & to enjoy the Hummingbird feeders while we waited for lunch. The Hummingbird feeders produced a few new species for our trip list.
White-necked Jacobin: Most seemed to be immature individuals
White-necked Jacobin
Long-billed Starthroat: Showing off its long bill
White-vented Plumeleteer: Living up to its name
White-vented Plumeleteer
Steely-vented Hummingbird: Note, the dark vent
Steely-vented Hummingbird: This is a Central American species which extends to Colombia & Venezuela
There were also a few other species coming in to the fruit feeders.
White-tipped Dove: This is a widespread Dove that occurs throughout the Neotropical lowlands
Bicoloured Wren: Good to get the opportunity to get a better photo than the record shot from earlier in the morning
As we were packing up, we were surprised to see there was a Blue-and-yellow Macaw in the trees at the front of the hotel. We couldn't figure out if it was a tame or a wild individual that had appeared due to a food source in one of the trees.
Blue-and-yellow Macaw: Stretching its left wing
It was time to head for the coastal Tayrona National Park for our final treats of the day. The highlight of the journey were some wildlife road signs.
Monkey road sign
Lizard road sign: We failed to see any Monkeys or Lizards

24 Aug 2019

9 Mar 18 - Colombia: The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Foothills (Part2)

We had started the morning by Birding along the track we had visited at the end of the previous day. One of the highlights had been a few Military Macaws that flew over us in the early morning. We returned to the main road leading up to the El Dorado Lodge & drove up it for a mile or two, to a site we had stopped at on the previous afternoon. There was a Black-and-white Owl roost site near the road, but for the second time, we drew a blank at the site. The Black-and-white Owl clearly had other roost trees that the drivers didn't know. However, an hour of road side Birding was more productive.
Broad-winged Hawk: A widespread species, but uncommon, species on the trip
 Whooping Blue-crowned Motmot
Rusty-margined Flycatcher: This species occurs from Panama, Colombia & Venezuela to as far South as Bolivia & Brazil
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Bicoloured Wren: This species occurs from Colombia to Venezuela, Guyana & neighbouring North Brazil
Rufous-capped Warbler
Buff-throated Saltator: This is a widespread Neotropical species that occurs from Mexico to Bolivia, Brazil & Paraguay
Buff-throated Saltator: To confirm how it got its name
As we walked up the road to where the 4WDs were waiting, we ran into another Tick: a couple of Golden-winged Sparrows. I've seen the similar-looking Pectoral Sparrow & San Francisco Sparrow in Brazil. Despite their bright colours, these Golden-winged Sparrows & their close cousins are surprisingly easy to overlook if they sit still.
Golden-winged Sparrow: They quickly disappear into background, once they sit still in the shade
Golden-winged Sparrow: Grovelling on the ground
Golden-winged Sparrow: They are restricted to Colombia & Northern Venezuela
By late morning, the Birding activity was dropping off & we headed back to the hotel in Minca. However, there was still plenty of activity at the Hummingbird feeders.

20 Aug 2019

9 Mar 18 - Colombia: The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Foothills (Part 1)

On the previous evening along the track above the small town of Minca in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta foothills, we had seen parties of Military Macaws heading to roost. It was difficult to keep track of numbers (given the other Bird activity), as some stopped in distant trees, before continuing. The consensus was there were sixty two individuals. The only downside was the nearest individuals were well over a half mile away & many were a lot more distant. It was therefore, slightly surprising that having seen them heading to roost in the distance, that a few flew over us in the early morning.
Military Macaw: Although this Macaw has a large range on paper from Mexico to Bolivia & extreme NW Argentina, it is far too often trapped for the Bird trade & is classified as Vulnerable
Scaled Pigeon: This species has a similar range to the Military Macaws
Again, there was a lot of Bird activity along the track & I only had the opportunity to photograph a few of the species.
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher: Looks like a Flycatcher, looking for the next flying meal
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher: But, it was looking to make sure none of the other Flycatchers would see it eating berries
Dusky-capped Flycatcher: It was looking the other way
Groove-billed Ani: A sure sign that we had dropped significantly in elevation if we were in the Ani zone
White-fringed Antwren: The Antbird family tend to be more of a lowland family given that many are associated with Ants & feed on other forest insects. So, another sign we were a lot lower
Swallow-tanager: Male. The females are a lovely pale green
Thick-billed Euphonia: Male. The vast majority of the Euphonias are variations on a theme. The extent of the yellow & blue around the head, as well as, the habitat & elevation, are generally the features to focus on. The females are generally a variation of even more subtle greens & it's best to look at the males for identification purposes
A flowering & fruiting tree
It will still early morning, but it was getting hot. So, we returned to the road to try another nearby location. More on that in the next Post.