Whos keeping an eye on me....

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Colombia 2015 - Pt 5 Isla Salamanca to Minca

We had a very comfortable night at the Hilton in Barranquilla and were now with our new guide Gabo Utria. An early start for Isla Salamanca where the key birds are Sapphire Throated and Saphire Bellied Hummingbirds.  Driving through the town early morning got us the urban regulars such as Carib Grackle, Great Tailed Grackle, Black Vulture Yellow headed and Crested Caracara.

We arrived at Isla Salamanca at first light and picked up a male Green Kingfisher perched at the side of a dry pool, Brown Throated Parakeets flocked over head while Neotropic Cormorants, Snowy Egrets by the dozen and a few Brown Pelicans passed over the dry mangrove pools.

Tower over looking the currently dry mangroves at Isla Salamanca, the area hasn't had any rain for five months
 Mangrove Boardwalks at Isla Salamanca 

In the car park we didn't have to wait too long for the first target to appear as Gabo found the endemic Sapphire-Bellied Hummingbird feeding in a flowering tree, the light was poor and the bird was flighty, it was joined momentarily by another which perched for a split second, this species is in critical danger so just to see it is a bit of a privilege.

Sapphire-Bellied Hummingbird

We ambled around the board walks by the dried mangrove lakes and picked up a stunning breeding Spotted Sandpiper. It was easy birding with Bicolored Conebills, Panama flycatchers, yellow chinned Spinetails, Lesser Kiskadee, Black crested Antshrikes, Prothonotary Warblers, Common Tody-Flycatchers, a few Empidonax flycatchers, probably Acadian Flycatchers.

Who needs water!......Spotted Sandpiper in a mangrove patch that has long since seen water

Solitary Sandpiper 

 Lesser Yellowlegs 
 Lesser Kiskadee
 a rather scruffy Black Crested Antshrike
 Bicolored Conebill female

More waders were in close proximity and on one of the few pools that had any water at all. Blue Winged Teal, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Northern scrub Flycatcher, Yellow Warblers, Straight Billed Woodcreeper and Great Kiskadee all showed very well and were adding some common birds to the triplist. We walked back to the car park and were pleased to get our second target of the area when a single Saphire Throated Hummingbird showed in a tree close to where we had seen the Sapphire Bellied. After the week in the Andes searching for skulking birds it was in contrast to what today would bring with plenty of species more known to inland water habitats.

It was only 07.30 am and with the two Hummingbirds seen,  Gabo drove us to his " secret" spot to look for another target bird, Northern Screamer. En route we stopped when Gabo spotted a Bronze Brown Cowbird, a very localised species and endemic to this area, while an Osprey flew overhead. We turned off the highway and drove along a dirt track, immediately we heard calls from at least a few Chestnut Winged Chachalaca, they were just out of sight and we unfortunately never caught sight of this endemic species. We continued along the lane and picked up Stripe Backed Wrens on a nest and Greyish Saltators feeding on a fruiting tree along the lane

We arrived at what looked like a small farm where Gabo has permission to park the car and walk the paths at the back of the house that holds a fantastic wetland habitat. Even in the garden we picked up some stunning birds. Limpkin, Pied Water Tyrant, Bicolored Wren, Snail Kite, Social Flycatchers, Red crowned Woodpecker and a Black collared Hawk.

female Snail Kite  

just as we set off towards the lagoons this lovely Yellow Hooded Blackbird appeared

Out on the lagoons we were confronted with hundreds upon hundreds of water birds. Great White
Egrets were most numerous

A single Sora was one of the few lifers that I picked up at this site, while we tried to take in the shear numbers of Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Tricolored Herons, Striated Herons, Bare Faced Ibis, Black Necked Stils Little Blue Herons, Cocoi Herons, Green Herons, Common Gallinule, Purple Gallinule, Blue Winged Teal a few White Ibis and Glossy Ibis, a single Cabots Tern, loads of Lesser Yellow Headed Vultures,  a few Turkey Vultures,  a White Headed Marsh-Tyrant, Cattle tyrants. even for all that list alas we missed the Northern Screamer. Gabo apologised as his secret spot only produced a thousand birds but not a single Northern Screamer.

Great Egrets, Blue Winged Teal and Black Necked Stilts

Green Heron
 White Ibis
 Bare faced Ibis, Western Sandpiper and a Wattled Jacana
 along one of the reed channels this pair of Yellow Chinned Spinetails looked like they were either  tending to a nest or prospecting for one.

Lesser Yellow Headed Vultures

and as we left the site we found this fine looking Spot breasted Woodpecker.

By 09.30 we had seen 80 species! of course when watching water birds at wetlands you can quickly rack up the species but it had been a wonderful relaxed morning of birding, we now headed towards the town of Minca which would take a few hours, our only addition to the days list was an Osprey that flew overhead. Towards Minca we stopping at potential hot spots that might bring new birds. One such stop we saw the lovely Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Golden Fronted Greenlet, an endemic White Tailed Starfrontlet, Purple Honeycreeper, Black Whiskered Vireo and the usual Blue Gray Tanagers, Crimson Backed Tanagers and a White Lined Tanager a first of the trip.... it was a superb spot. We continued to the town of Minca where we would book into our accomadation at Sierra Sound right on the riverside. It is extremely comfortable with Superb food. I sat by the river and watched a wild population of Muscovy duck on the river while Black Phoebe's sunned themselves on the boulders. Streaked Flycatchers, Dusky Capped Flycatchers and Pale Breasted Thrushes took turns to drink from the river as did this Ochre bellied Flycatcher when it came to the rivers edge.

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

We walked up the Minca road before tea where again we picked up dozens of species, Scalled Piculet, White Bearded Manakin, Mourning Warbler, Piratic Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Rufous Capped Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Vermillion Flycatcher, Streak Headed Woodcreeper, Rufous Tailed Jacamar, Swallow Tanagers, Orange Chinned Parakeets, Red Legged Honeycreepr, Swainsons Thrush, Baltimore Oriole, Grey Headed Tanager, Crested Orependola, Barred Antshrike and Sepia Capped Flycatcher..... 121 day birds with a 100 new for the trip... Exceptional days birding.

Long Billed Gnatwren

Whooping Motmot 

 Grey Headed Tanager 

A night a Sierras sound with a well earned beer or two and tomorrow we travel along the Minca road to the ProAves flagship lodge at  El dorado which holds potentially 19 endemic species.
Gabo and Jeff relax by the river


TexWisGirl said...

some species we see here and many we don't. that woodpecker took the cake for me, though! wow! the egrets are so grand.

Unknown said...

I love the mangrove habitat. Fantastic photos, as usual!