10 Aug 2019

7 Mar 18 - Colombia: Chasing Hummingbirds

We had enjoyed an excellent start to our time in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains with two Owl Ticks & Santa Marta Antpitta on the first morning, when we had travelled up to the top of the ridge above the El Dorado Lodge. When we returned for lunch & some Birding at the El Dorado Lodge, we ran into an American Birder & his Ecuadorian bird guide. As we had had a successful trip to the top of the ridge, Janos decided we would head down below the El Dorado Lodge for our second morning & leave the ridge free for the others. There were few passing places on the ridge track, so it also made practical sense. But it also allowed us to focus on two of the speciality Hummingbirds: Santa Marta Woodstar & Santa Marta Blossomcrown. We headed down the track to a large private house with extensive gardens which were one of the stakeouts for both species. Surprisingly, there were no Hummingbird feeders here, just a very large, extensive garden for us to patrol in the hope of connecting at one of the patches of flowers. We found a Santa Marta Woodstar fairly quickly, but without any feeders to attract it, it was constantly on the move. Reminiscent of a large Hummingbird Hawk Moth in the UK, it never stays around for long. However, we all had a few sightings in the two hours we were there.
Santa Marta Woodstar: Not surprisingly with its name, it is a Santa Marta endemic
Santa Marta Woodstar
The Santa Marta Blossomcrown was trickier & it took a lot of searching in the gardens, before we finally saw one. The gardens were also large enough, that it took a while before the news got around the group & we had all seen it.
Santa Marta Blossomcrown: Another Santa Marta endemic for the trip
In the meantime while we were checking the Hummingbirds, there were a few larger & more distant species to distract us.
Groove-billed Toucanet: Earlier in the trip, all the green Toucanets had been Southern Emerald Toucanets, but we were now in range of this Venezuelan species, which also occurs in the Santa Marta mountains
Black-chested Jay: This will have to do as a record shot of this species which occurs from Costa Rica to Northern Colombia & Venezuela
Crested Oropendola
The view from the garden
Closer to the ground, these Olive-striped Flycatcher & Blue-naped Chlorophonia looked a bit more cute.
Olive-striped Flycatcher: This small Tyrant Flycatcher was feeding low in the vegetation
Blue-naped Chlorophonia: This wasn't a Tick for me in Colombia, but it was one of the best Birds I saw in Colombia
Butterfly sp.
We returned to the El Dorado Lodge for lunch. By this point, I was suffering with a cold that had come on during the morning & skipped the lunchtime photography around the lodge & lunch and headed to bed. I made it out for the afternoon trip back down the hill where the highlight according to the trip report was good views of the regional endemic Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner. I hadn't taken the camera & really can't remember it. However, that's more a reflection on my views of the Foliage-gleaner group than how I was feeling. A slightly more rufous, than browner FG looking at photos. It was a quick meal & an early night for me when we made it back to the lodge, but fortunately, the extra sleep & the medicine meant I was feeling a lot better for the final well-before-dawn start back to the top of the ridge.

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