Whos keeping an eye on me....

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Colombia 2015 - Pt 3 Central Andes - Rio Blanco

We say goodbye to the lodge at Montezuma, but even while we load up the truck with cases the birds keep coming, 11 species of Hummingbird, scrub, Silver throated, Lemon Rumped and Palm Tanagers. Yellow bellied and Gray Seedeaters and a small flock of Chapmans Swifts went through while Chestnut Collared Swifts hawked over the pond by the Hummer feeders.

We were heading for Rio Blanco in the central Andes but due to landslides we hit plenty of road works. Sometimes road works work for you and as we were able to leave our vehicle and bird along the roadside we picked up close views of a Hook billed Kite as it perched in a valley just bellow the roadside.

A stop en route near Perriera for the best Coconut ice-cream ever and some water species at a small lake where we picked up half a dozen or so including Pied Billed and Least Grebe, Striated Heron as well as a Ruddy Seedeater.

By early afternoon we arrived at the very comfortable Rio Blanco lodge in time for lunch. The Hummingbird feeders were busy giving wonderful views of Long Tailed Sylph, Buff Tailed Coronet, Speckled Hummingbird and Touramiline Sunangels ...... Nice!

Rio Blanco Lodge

Long Tailed Sylph

Touramiline Sunangel

Speckled Hummingbird

Buffed Tailed Coronet 

Our guide Albeiro (the famous bird whisperer) took us up the track to do some afternoon birding where we saw 2 Plushcaps, Andean Guan, Rufous crowned Tody-flycatcher, Grey browsed Brush-finch and plenty of Great Thrushes. Unfortunately a prolonged thunder storm broke out, this time with impressive forked lightning and can you believe hailstone. We took shelter at a cafe for coffee and rode out the storm which would cost us a few hours birding, although back at the lodge the sun came back out and allowed some photos of the resident White Sided Flowerpiecer and, Masked Flowerpiecer.

White Sided Flowerpiecer

Masked Flowerpiecer sneaks a drink from a Hummer feeder

After dinner we tried for some Owls and picked up Band Winged Nightjar and had great views of Rufous Banded Owl.... For good measure a Crab Eating fox stayed around the garden for an hour after dark.

Rufous Banded Owl

Tomorrow we go feeding Antpittas.

Another early start as Albeiro, Jose, Jeff, Noah and myself go in search of five Antpittas. First we watch Buff Winged Coronets, Collared Incas and Long Tailed Sylphs while on the banana feeders I picked up more lifers when three Blue Winged Mountain-Tanagers came in to feed with a Slaty Brush finch and a Blue Capped Tanager.... Awesome birds  and this is before we left the lodge.

Collared Inca

Blue Capped Tanager

Blue Winged Mountain-Tanager

As we climbed the track up the mountain we saw our first Mountain Wren and Flamulated Treerunner as well as 3 species of  Hemispingus, Black Capped, Superciliaried and Oleaginous. Then the day went crazy.

Albeiro is famous for teasing out of the darkest scrub the Antpittas. Today a Chestnut Crowned didn't need any encouragement as it followed us up the hill and picked up a mate along the way and met us at the feeder....
Chestnut Crowned Antpitta

We were interrupted from the feeding by a monster mixed flock of Streaked Xenops, Black crested Warblers, Cinnamon Flycatchers, Montane Woodcreepers, Grey browed Brush-Finch, Gray headed Bush-Tanagers, Golden faced Tyrannulets, Slate throated Whitestarts, White Naped Brush-Finch, Pale edged flycatchers amongst others... Phew! It was hard to keep up.

Grey Browed Brush-Finch


Back to the feeder and we didn't pick up anymore Antpittas, although the Bicolored responded to our call but didn't show itself, we moved up hill to another stakeout and tried again. It wasn't too long to wait before a Brown banded Antpitta appeared, it wasn't as showy as the Chestnut Capped but it gave plenty of fleeting views., again the Bicolored called but didn't show.

Brown Banded Antpitta

We hadn't done with the skulkers as we nailed three Tapaculo species... Spillmans, Ash-Colored and Blackish, anyone would be really pleased to see these species in quick succession and with more than acceptable views too. We even got some "normal" birds as we were now rewarded with the first Trogan of the trip with a pair of Masked showing down to a few meters.

Masked Trogon Male

and the female

Albeiro hadn't finished with the Antpittas and took us deep into the undergrowth to another stakeout. This time for the diminutive Slate Crowned Antpitta, again we were treated to amazing views..... what a bird this is.

Slate Crowned Antpitta

More and more species were logged, Dusky Piha, Sharps Wren, Pearled Treerunner, Streak Headed Antbird, Yellow-Bellied Chat-Tyrant, Hooded Mountain Tanager, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Capped Conebill, Strong Billed Woodcreeepr, Black Billed Pepper-Shrike, Crimson Mantled Woodpecker, Yellow Vented Woodpecker, Blue and Black Tanagers and many others.

Pearled Treerunner

Blue and Black Tanagers (part of a flock of 30)

Capped Conebill

Crimson Mantled Woodpecker
(Brilliant bird in 2 half's - join the top to the bottom and you get the picture!)

Then when you couldn't think things could get any better and while 4 of us were watching a female Powerful Woodpecker, Albeiro shouted us down the track where he had enticed out a stunner... Chestnut Naped Antpitta. Possibly the bird of the day!

We tried hard for the Bicolored Antpitta and although it sang very close to us we never saw it although we got stunning views of the Brown Banded Antpitta again, this time in full song.....


Just for good measure I picked up a pair of Scaly Naped Parrots flyover and added three more lifers with, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Golden Fronted Whitestart, Glistening Green Tanager, Fawn Breasted Brilliant and a Wedge Billed Hummingbird.

Smoky Bush-Tyrant

Golden Fronted Whitestart

The day had been epic, I picked up 76 species and had pretty good views of all of them, who would thought that when watching Tapaculos and Antpittas?

Albeiro looks like its just another days work, I look like I made a friend for life!


Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

HI Dave What a fantastic day this was for you an you managed such wonderful photographs. None of the birds I have seen before. Looking forward to hearing and seeing lots more. If I had to pick a favourite it woul be the Chestnut Naped Antpitta.

Dave said...

Cheers Margaret, one of the best days imaginable. Good Choice with the Chestnut Naped Antpitta..... its a cool bird.

Part 4 coming soon