28 Feb 2018

28 Feb 18 - Colombia: The Final Afternoon At Montezuma

The final afternoon at Montezuma was spent walking down the lower parts of the Montezuma trail after a good morning in the mid section of the track. The first highlight of the afternoon was a Choco Vireo that was singing near the track. Fortunately, we found a small track where we could walk in & within a few minutes, found it singing in the trees. Choco Vireo was only described in the mid 1990s & in a progressive approach to conservation, the scientific name was put up for auction. The result was it was named after Dr Bernard Master who donated over US $100,000 in the auction to set up the Rio Nambi Community National Reserve, the first ProAves Bird Reserve in Colombia.
Choco Vireo: This was thought to be a Colombian Choco endemic, but more recently it has been found in NW Ecuador
Choco Vireo
Nearby a small family party of Olive Finches were hanging around. One of the local guides put down some food & they immediately came down to feed. It looks like this was something the guides had done before.
Olive Finch: The occur in the Andes from Colombia to Peru
Olive Finch: Given their wide range, I was surprised this was a Tick
Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant: This is another of those widespread South American species which is worth learning as they occur from Colombia & Venezuela to Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia
Ornate Flycatcher: This is a West Andes specialist of Colombia & Ecuador
Another species I hadn't since trips to Ecuador & Peru in the early 2000s was Russet-backed Oropendola. We saw a small group of at least ten individuals. However, none were particularly photogenic.
Russet-backed Oropendola: They occur from Colombia & Venezuela to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia & Amazonian Brazil
Oropendola nest: These nests were nearby & presumably were Russet-backed Oropendola nests
Rich, Sally, Janos & Rob
To prove the Montezuma track is in the Tatama National Park: A pity we didn't see an Oso
At one point, the track passed over a small bridge. Looking down from the bridge, we found a Green-fronted Lancebill. It wasn't particularly close, but it kept returning to the same perch after feeding.
Green-fronted Lancebill: This was only my second Green-fronted Lancebill, with the first at Mindo, Ecuador
The Birding slowed down in the warmth of the early afternoon. This gave a few opportunities to photo some of the other wildlife along the track. We saw a good selection of Butterflies during the afternoon, especially when we found an area where there must have been a build up of salt.
Colombian Butterfly sp.
Colombian Butterfly sp.
Colombian Butterfly sp.
Colombian Butterfly sp.
Colombian Butterfly sp.
Colombian Butterfly sp.: I've not got a Colombian Butterfly guide, so all these species will remain unnamed, except this stunning Butterfly which I will call the 89
Colombian Butterfly sp.: The upperwing of the 89 was not what I was expecting
The Grasshoppers were pretty amazing to look as well.
Opaon varicolor: This is an endemic wingless Grasshopper which is restricted to the Chaco parts of Colombia
Colombian Grasshopper sp.
Colombian Grasshopper sp.
Centipede sp.: It looks like it has survived a nasty injury
Colombia Orchid sp.
After another long day in the field, we walked around a bend & could see the Ecolodge at the bottom of the slope. We had just about left the forest & were in more secondary habitat. So, it was no surprise to see this Black Phoebe.
Black Phoebe: A sign that the habitat was getting more secondary
However, I was more surprised when somebody found this endemic Greyish Piculet next to the trail: the last Tick at Montezuma.
Greyish Piculet: Not as sharp as I would like, but I'm always pleased to see Piculets. These small Woodpeckers are often tricky to see & I wonder how many I've walked past & missed in my many foreign trips
We had a brief opportunity to look for Nightbirds the following morning before it got light, but only ended with a Paraque on the track. There was also a few of the local Hummingbirds & Tanagers as it was getting light as we walked back to the Ecolodge. We then loaded everything into the jeeps to take us back to the nearest village, where our driver had spent the last two days. It would be a long drive to our next hotel in the picturesque town of Jardin.

28 Feb 18 - Colombia: Solitaire Birding On The Montezuma Track

It was another pre-dawn start back up to the lower sections of the Montezuma track in the hope of seeing some of the other Choco specialities, that we didn't see on the first day. We had hoped for some Owls, but only succeeded in hearing a Rufescent Screech-owl & a Cloud Forest Pygmy-owl. The only Bird seen before dawn, was briefly views of my second Barred Forest Falcon. After some initial Birding, we stopped for some breakfast in the forest.
The late Brian Field: Always happy to enjoy some food
It's not unusual to see some odd food & drink branding abroad: This nutty paste seems to have a Squirrel with a pair of bins with just one eyepiece
Breakfast over, it was time to get back to the Birding. One of the first specialities was a couple of near endemic Rufous-throated Tanagers.
Rufous-throated Tanager: This is a species I've seen in Ecuador & which only occurs in the Western side of both countries
Another highlight was when Janos managed to get an Alto Pisones Tapaculo to briefly appear near to the track. In typical Tapaculo fashion, it didn't show for long. But it was long enough to get a grainy photo of this endemic that was only described in 2017 as Tatama Tapaculo. It is named after the Tatama National Park which the Montezuma track is in. It has been known since the early 1990s & had been the unofficial named as Alto Pisones Tapaculo based upon the nearby site it was first seen at. I've stuck to the name that most Birders who have visited Colombia in recent years will have been familiar with that name.
Alto Pisones Tapaculo: It has a distinctive song that sounds like a Tree Frog to my ears
As we walked down the track, an Andean Solitaire started to sing. We finally saw it singing from high up in one of the trees where it happily remained for some time.
Andean Solitaire: Another species that occurs in Western Colombia & Ecuador
As we were watching the Andean Solitaire, Janos said he could hear a Black Solitaire singing. It took some looking for, but eventually we saw it sitting high in some backlit trees. It wasn't particularly close, but it was good to see this near endemic Solitaire.
Black Solitaire: This near endemic also occurs just over the border in NW Ecuador
We had a brief change from looking high up in the trees, when Janos found this Western Antvireo, which was typically skulking deep in cover.
Western Antvireo: Male. This is also known as Bicoloured Antvireo
Western Antvireo: A Family Photo Tick
Toucan Barbet: A species I've seen before in Ecuador, but good to get some photos as this is another Family Photo Tick
We saw this Barred Hawk fly over the forest as there was a gap in the canopy.
Barred Hawk: The distinctive broad white wings & black tail with a white band & grey head makes this Hawk fairly easy to identify. Only a Black-chested Eagle looks superficially similar
Butterfly sp.
I will cover the final afternoon on the Montezuma track in the next Post.

27 Feb 2018

27 Feb 18 - Colombia: The Montezuma Track

After a good early morning at the top of the Montezuma track, we continued to drop down in elevation throughout the rest of the day. It was a long, but rewarding, day and easily the best day in Colombia with 21 Ticks.
I can't remember what the others were looking for here
After we left the breakfast spot, we soon ran into the next goodie: a White-faced Nunbird.
White-faced Nunbird: This is a local species which occurs from West Colombia to NW Peru
Soon after we ran into a photogenic Cinnamon Flycatcher.
Cinnamon Flycatcher: This is a widespread species which occurs from Colombia & Venezuela through Ecuador & Peru to NW Argentina
Cinnamon Flycatcher
The next highlight was when we bumped into a lek of Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias.
Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia: They occur from Colombia & West Venezuela to Ecuador & Peru
Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia
Looking for another goodie: I had handed the small camera over to one of the others to take this photo
We did well for Fruiteaters: with a Green-and-black Fruiteater and later an Orange-breasted Fruiteater.
Green-and-black Fruiteater: Another species that occurs from Colombia & West Venezuela to Ecuador & Peru
Orange-breasted Fruiteater: They are restricted to the Western Andes of Colombia & Ecuador
I was pleased to find there was another group of Hummer feeders. It allowed us a break from walking, but not from the photography.
Empress Brilliant
Velvet-purple Coronet: It looks quite good in this photo
Velvet-purple Coronet
Velvet-purple Coronet: But as it turned its head & body, it caught the light
Velvet-purple Coronet: Another head movement & it's back to a dull coloured head
Velvet-purple Coronet: Superb
As we continued down the track, we ran into a couple of cracking new Tanagers: Black-and-gold Tanager & Gold-ringed Tanager.
Black-and-gold Tanager: A West & Central Colombian Andes endemic
Gold-ringed Tanager: This is a Colombian Choco endemic
Gold-ringed Tanager
Brian missing the Hummers that were perching on his hand at the previous site
The light levels were already starting to drop by the time we reached the lodge. The Hummer feeders were still busy, but the failing light meant it wasn't worth trying to take any more photos. But there was still the opportunity to enjoy a few more Hummingbird species.