Whos keeping an eye on me....

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Colombia 2015 - Pt 6 El Dorado Reserve (Sierra Nevada)

El Dorado is ProAves flagship reserve and is known as the "Crown Jewel" of birding in the Americas. Home to over 300 species and 19 endemics, I couldn't wait to get there.
We would have three days and two nights at El Dorado, but today we were going to bird along the Minca Road on the way to El Dorado, and we had a new vehicle and driver, Pedro.

We had been woefully short of Hermit Hummingbirds so it was nice to see two species in the hotel garden before we left Sierras Sound, Rufous Breasted Hermit and Pale Bellied Hermit. We saw our first Toucan family with a Collared Aracari. Yellow Billed Cuckoo, Yellow Backed Orioles, Crimson Crowned Woodpeckers and Red Crowned Woodpeckers were easy catches. The pretty Rufous Capped Warbler seemed to be the default bird following us up the road showing in very good numbers while we picked up plenty of skulkers with Rufous and White Wren, Rufous Breasted Wren and White Bearded Manakin.
Rufous Capped  Warbler

White Bearded Manakin

We reached some open areas along the road which would allow better viewing, here we saw one on the lower elevation area target birds, Golden Winged Sparrow. A pair sitting up for a few seconds before disappearing, we would see a few more over the next hours walk unfortunately I never nailed a great photo, but they gave great views, sometimes you don't get both.

Golden Winged Sparrow
Crimson Backed Tanager

Good birds were still being seen as we climbed the road, Yellow billed Cuckoo, Plain Brown Woodcreeper, Boat Billed Flycatcher, Black Chested Jay, Summer Tanager,  Black Striped Sparrow, Sooty headed and Yellow Crowned Tyranulets, Crimson Crowned Woodpeckers, Crested Oropendola, Swainsons Thrush, Great Crested Flycatchers, Ochre Bellied Flycatcher, Blue Back Grassquits, Yellow Bellied and Lesser Elanias and Yellow backed Orioles.

Plain-Brown Woodcreeper

As we gained height and neared El Dorado Lodge we picked up our first Santa Marta endemics. Santa Marta (SM) Tapaculo, SM Brush-finch, SM Antbirds, SM Foliage-gleaner and White-lored Warblers and throw in a brilliant Rusty Breasted Antpitta for good luck.

Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner
Santa Marta Brush-finch


Rusty Breasted Antpitta
There had a few brilliant stops along the roadside but next we visited a garden that was know to hold two more endemic species, both hummingbirds,  The Blossomcrown and Santa Marta Woodstar disappointingly of the two we only got the Blossomcrown . We had met an American couple a few hours before further down the Minca road who had already told us that they had missed the SM Woodstar so during our hour or so in the garden we were waiting in hope rather than expectation. We still managed to add  some new birds while we waited, Rusty Flowerpiecer, Keel Billed Toucan, Cinnamon Flycatcher (a Santa Marta sub species), Streak Capped Spinetail, Blackburnian Warbler, Olive Striped Flycatcher, Bay headed Tanager (another sub species that will surely be split in the future as this fella is all green with no signs of blue at all), Black Capped Tanager, Green Violetear, Crowned Woodnymph  and a Collared Forest Falcon.

Keel-Billed Toucan

Rusty Flowerpiecer

possibly the worst Blossomcrown image ever but I just had to add it to the blog.....

Green Violetear

We eventually gave up on the Woodstar . Only 15 minutes further up the mountain was our eagerly awaited next stop...... El dorado lodge.

After yet another fantastic lunch we checked out the amazing hummingbird feeders and walked around the grounds, here Jeff  seems to have settled in quickly as is already birding from the bar balcony at El Dorado

The Hummingbird feeders were buzzing with absolute stunners... Dozens upon dozens of the super brilliant Crowned Woodnympyh, after seeing Green Violetears further down the Minca Road we had dozens here, plenty of the very beautiful Brown Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Tyrian Metaltails, and half a dozen of the impressive endemic White Tailed Starfrontlet.

Absolutely huge numbers of birds with non stop activity, it was hard to take in and I spent 30 minutes just watching the incredible show, the camera could wait while I watched in amazement.

Tyrian Metaltail
male Crowned Woodnymph males by the dozen
male Crowned Woodnymph
Crowned Woodnymph female
White Tailed Starfrontlet
(which were a nightmare species to photograph so I am more than pleased to get a few images)
Green Violetear
Brown Violetear
The feeders were impressive with constant activity, why o why cant we have hummers in the UK....
El Dorado garden held plenty of other species with Crested Oropendolas, White sided Flowerpiecer, Blue Naped Chlorophonia, Grey Breasted Wood-Wren and yet another endemic species, Santa Marta Toucanet White sided Flowerpiecer female
A quick walk before dinner brought us Masked Trogon, Band -Tailed Guan, Santa Marta Toucanets, Golden Breasted Fruiteater while back at the lodge we got more of the endemic Santa Marta Brush-finch while we now had our first endemic Sierra Nevada Brush-finch, a busyWhite Lored Warbler just about allowed me a photograph and to top a brilliant day two near Endemic Black Fronted Wood-Quails foraging around the seed feeder just before dusk....... what brilliant birds.

White-Lored Warbler

Sierra Nevada Brush-finch

Back fronted Wood-Quail

it had been a day of Endemic species, Foliage-Gleaner, Santa Marta and Sierra Nevada Brush finches, Blossomcrown Hummingbird, Toucanet, Antbird, Tapaculo, White Lored Warbler, White-tailed Starfrontlet,

It had been yet another brilliant days birding in Colombia, Gabo, Jeff and myself settled down in the bar for a few celebratory drinks ate yet another amazing dinner and tomorrow we would drive higher up the mountain for more endemics on and around the San Lorenzo ridge.

Myself and Gabo looking a little serious.......
We could hear Grey and Little Tinamous in the distance and were wondering if we should forsake another beer and go in search.....

Sunset at El Dorado



Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

WOW! Dave, what a fabulous variety of birds you came across and photographed.My favourite shots is the first one although the Hummingbirds are stunning. this quite a wonderful trip you are having

Small City Scenes said...

Wowee! what a spectacular place to be. Wonderful shots and I really like the Cinnamon backed Tanager (i think).
Caught you on Stewart's WBW so you can post comments.

NatureFootstep said...

so many wonderful birds. And gret photography. Love it.
Think I have to find another trip to visit hummers. I miss them.

eileeninmd said...

Awesome collection of birds and images. Great post!

Phil Slade said...

I often think I'd like to go the South America and experience the variety of exotic birds found there. Your pictures are enough to whet anyone's appetite but I'm thinking now that I'd need to do some serious preparatory work with a set of field guides before I did. I enjoyed your pictures and commentary Dave. Thanks for sharing.

A Colorful World said...

This was a breath-taking journey of a post! Wow! What a great place to go visit and your sightings were incredible! Not only that, your photos are incredible! I had several favorites but they were all just amazing!

Dave said...

Thank you all for the kind comments.656 Species in 16 days of birding, it really is birding Paradise.

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

You captured many fabulous images of those birds. Their numbers and variety were dazzling!

Neil said...

Beautiful lot of birds.