4 Mar 2018

4 Mar 18 - Colombia: A Slower Morning At Rio Claro

We were back into the Rio Claro reserve for a final morning after an excellent, but long, first day. It was wetter than the first morning. That would have made the photograph more difficult, as I was struggling with light in the forest when it was sunny. As a result, after some initial photography around the entrance, I decided to leave the camera in the minibus for most of the morning.
The entrance gate
Great Kiskadee: This morning, there was a Great Kiskadee around the entrance gate, which provided a nice contract to the previous morning's Boat-billed Flycatcher. Note, the slimmer, more normal bill & the extensive rufous in the wings
Boat-billed Flycatcher: They are quite different. I normally have problems in South America & end up checking the features as I generally can't stay awake long enough to remember them: they are as dull as large immature seagulls (3 Mar 18)
Another Tyrant Flycatcher group that I end up having to check the books on the Streaked Flycatcher & Piratic Flycatcher group. Again, they aren't particularly tricky to separate if you can remember the features. We saw both species at Rio Claro & it was the first time, I had seen these species for fourteen & sixteen years, respectively.
Streaked Flycatcher: Piratic Flycatcher is superficially similar, but has a smaller, stubbier bill & doesn't have the dark moustachial line
Band-backed Wren: This is one of the large group of large Neotropical Wrens
Saffron Finch: Male
Varied White-faced Capuchin Monkey: Having its breakfast
One of the highlights of the morning was seeing a Yellow-striped Poison Frog. I got into Frogs as a small kid & several years before Birds. So, I have always had an interest in seeing them. This is particularly true of the 'Poison Arrows' Frogs of Central & Southern America. These species are usually small & brightly coloured to advertise they are all very poisonous. There are a number of species that have been used in the past by native Indians to poison their arrows when hunting. Presumably, the effect of the poison must wear off, only be a problem if it gets into the blood stream  or disappear as the meat is cooked.
Yellow-striped Poison Frog: This is a widespread Colombian endemic species
We walked back up the small trail & saw a similar set of species to the first morning, albeit we didn't see the Beautiful Woodpecker again, as we didn't go far enough up the trail. The highlight of the morning was when Janos heard a singing Magdalena Antbird on the small trail: it wasn't close. We ended up having to find a small path down to the small stream, next to the trail. There was a steep rocky hillside on the far side of this stream, which looked impossible to get up. After a bit of searching, we started to see the Magdalena Antbird moving around about twenty metres above our heads. It was singing from a number of preferred rocky ledges & bushes, before disappearing out of sight & reappearing at another of its preferred song points. Once we had worked out where it was singing from, it was possible to get reasonable views of it. This was one of only two Ticks for the day: the other being Grey-headed Tanager. While we were watching the Magdalena Antbird, a Barred Forest Falcon appeared & gave some nice, prolonged views. The views were much better than the brief pre-dawn views we had seen at Montezuma. Pity the camera was still in the minibus. It had finished raining, by the time we arrived back at the hotel. There was a Ruddy Ground-dove feeding around the restaurant area. Time to make use of the camera again. After some food, we packed the bags & spent the rest of the afternoon travelling to Medellin. There wasn't any further Birding opportunities as it was close to dusk by the time we arrived.
Ruddy Ground-dove: This is a widespread species which occurs from Mexico to Central Argentina
The bags were all packed as we only had a short time for Birding the next morning, due to an early flight. But there was time for a dawn visit to the nearby site of La Romera. This was a quiet minor road with forest on either side. A few years earlier, Yellow-headed Manakins had been found breeding. After a bit of searching we found a male singing from a small perch in the forest. We had already seen five endemic Red-bellied Grackles soon after arriving & Janos had lured an endemic Stiles's Tapaculo into view. We were leaving by 08:00 & I had three Ticks under the belt. The first flight was to Bogota, where we had plenty of time for a leisurely lunch, before a mid afternoon flight to the Northern coastal city of Santa Marta. We were met by three 4WDs which slowly took us & all our bags up to the excellent ProAves El Dorado Lodge, in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. It was dark by the time we finally arrived. This was to be our base for the next three nights.