Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Colombia - The second week


Wow, managed to find a little town in the hills with an internet cafe....


We are now on day 11 of the trip.

It worked out that we went to Chingaza National Park on day one and also to Guasca where we saw Bogotá Rail, near La Calera east of Bogotá.

Day 2, we started at Bogotá at 2600 m and with 5.30am start went to La Florida Golf Course. The 3 endemics that we saw were Silvery-Throated Spinetail, Apolinar's Wren and Bogotá Rail again. We had a local Guide Fernando from the Golf club whose job seemed to be to keep us off the greens. He had started by asking Avery whether we were going to the 9th hole, which Avery had thought was the reeds near the hole. After a couple of hours of searching with no wren, we finally looked from the actual 9th hole to see an Apolinar’s Wren jumping about on the reeds!

Then lunch at a steamy 200m and ended up unexpectedly seeing our next endemic, Velvet Fronted Euphonia, from our table. We then birded in the Magdalena Valley near Payende and saw Apical Flycatcher.

Digby's dip of the day was an attractive girl on a motorbike in hot pants and low cut top which had both Chris and Avery taking a third look!

We then went on to Ibague, which is I think where I last had internet.

Day 3 was a 3am start going up to 3200m to the Fuertes Parrot Reserve. Out trusty driver Lucas was 4 minutes later and had not been answering his phone. I imagined him fast asleep and 10 minutes of stress was had mainly it seems by me. We had a one hour car journey to meet up with a jeep to then go up to the reserve in a mountain track. Were making great time when we got to a landside and had to walk the last 2 miles. We managed to see the parrots (rare endemics only found here) after myself and Digby had views were rudely rubbished. Also saw Yellow-Headed Brush-Finch another endemic.

Day 4 we travelled to Claruto Botero and saw another endemic Tolima Dove. I missed the first view and had a tense few minutes before seeing it well myself.

We then drove over the Central Cordillera and then into the valley on the western slope of the Central Cordillera and on to the reserve of Otum Quinbaya which was at 1500m, near La Suiza village. Saw the endemic Wattled Guan which is near threatened.

Day 5 Saw Red-Ruffed Fruitcrow despite the pouring rain. Due to the rain, we decided to move on.  First though we met another group lead by a very good looking and charming guide Diego.  They were also going to be at our next lodge, which would be nice.

We then travelled back through Pereira and Manizales to Rio Blanca Lodge which is at 2,500m.


We have had a few tough days of birding but Birdgirl holding up well. We all caught up with some rest on our full day of travel today.

I am now being forced off computer to get to our next site before dark, so will update in a few days.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

First few days in Colombia

On Monday, we had a 5.30am start (Chris told me it was a 5.15am start so we were on time!) and went to La Florida Golf Course, followed by breakfast.

We saw 3 endemics – a good start to the day. We then travelled down from Bogotá at 2,600m south along the Magdalena Valley, dropping to 800m in 2 hours. We had an amazing few hours with another couple of endemics (one in our lunchtime stop) and then travelled back up to Ibague at 1200m for the night.

After a 3.00 am start, we had a long jeep ride to the Fuertes' parrot site at 3,600m (on the eastern side of the central Andes ridge). A landslide meant we had to walk the last few kilometres and then had a steep climb up where we did see this very rare endemic parrot. What a relief! We ran into massive traffic back on the way back to Ibague, which meant that we did not get back until 8pm.  What a long day!

This morning was a later start at 5.45am, travelling by jeep up to 1,500m for Tolima Dove, which I was the last to see. Good job for Chris that he did manage to get me onto it.

We are now travelling across the Central Andes Ridge and back down the other side to low area reserves. We will be out of contact for over a week but will update then.

Birdgirl says hi to all her class.


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Birdgirl's party, by Birdgirl

Recently a party was held for Birdgirl because she was leaving. Her friends made a banner for her and made an awesome cake for her, and made her feel great. Birdgirl is really happy about this because the party was lush!!!!

A special thanks to the purple sheep company from Birdgirl.

We are staying in Ibague at the moment, it's in the central Andes.




Sunday, 18 March 2012

Got here, Colombia


Arrived in Bogotá last night exhausted, after a flight sitting behind drunken Russians and Birdgirl refusing to sleep until a couple of hours before arrival at 7.30pm Bogotá time. It was pouring with rain on arrival so the first job was to empty suitcases and let everything dry out. We clearly are not the seasoned travellers that we thought, didn't think to put all our clothes in plastic bags. Our good friend Digby was waiting at the hotel (with dry clothes) when we arrive together with our bird guide, Avery, from Ecoturs.

Early start with a 4.45am departure. We spent the day birding at Chingaza National Park, in the Eastern Andes a couple of hours from Bogotá. At 3,300 meters we were all struggling for breath. Walking up the fairly steep path was not easy, though Birdgirl seemed to manage ok, virtually skipping ahead. We needed 4x4 jeeps today to cope with the tracks.


Birding highlights of the day were the endemic Brown-breasted Parakeet and Bogotá Rail. I missed the first group of Parakeets, with a few tense moments before they were relocated. The Bogotá Rail proved difficult at first (particularly for Digby who missed the first 4 birds!) but then seemed to be dancing about everywhere. Also had some amazing views of the near endemic Pale-bellied Tapaculo and a pair of Rufous Antpitta. We saw 66 birds for the day, seeing all our targets for the day. Let's hope we can keep it up.

We managed to get Birdgirl to bed by 8pm, so the 5.15am start should be ok. She says thanks to all her friends for her e-mails. If we have wifi tomorrow night, then she will try and post then. Otherwise, may be a few days before we are connected again.


Saturday, 17 March 2012

OCD preparation

I thought that I had managed to work out how to post using my phone, rather than ending up with a comment. Third time lucky! Hopefully Birdgirl will do better. The question at 1am was whether to unpack the half-empty 3 suitcases and cram into 2, chuck in more stuff or enjoy a trip when I don't have to lean on the case to zip it shut. Fortunately I was sent to bed. It feels strange, is this how normal people pack their cases?

OCD packing

I thought that I had managed to work out how to post using my phone, rather than ending up with a comment. Third time lucky! Hopefully Birdgirl will do better. The question at 1am was whether to unpack the half-empty 3 suitcases and cram into 2, chuck in more stuff or enjoy a trip when I don't have to lean on the case to zip it shut. Fortunately I was sent to bed. It feels strange, is this how normal people pack their cases?

Start of the journey

Have finally managed to post using my I-phone, rather than ending up with a comment! I'm sure Birdgirl will do better.
So now I have managed to work out how to post via my I phone rather than it being added as a comment! Maybe birdergirl will do better.

Sunday, 11 March 2012