Welcome to the Colombia Birdwatch Blog, hosted by Owner/Operator Christopher Calonje. I was born and raised in Cali, Colombia, and have been leading birding and nature tours throughout all regions of Colombia since 2008. I have always carried a camera on my travels, becoming an enthusiast of bird and lanscape photography. This blog is intended to be a showcase of the spectacular birds and scenery that one can experience in the five major regions of Colombia: Andean, Pacific, Caribbean, Amazon, and Orinoco. Subscribers will be able to keep track of my travels throughout Colombia,and view the birds and scenery I photograph during these amazing trips. The idea is that folks will learn about the plethora of birding localities that can be visited in Colombia, in hopes of encouraging birders to visit a country that holds 20% of the world's species of birds in less than 1% of the world's landmass.
I pride myself in knowing the ins and outs of Colombia, its mind-boggling avian diversity, diverse geography, amazing people, delicious food and interesting culture. I find extreme joy in showing off my country to birders and naturalists from around the globe, and want to extend an invitation to all of you to come visit the most avian-rich country on the planet.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Colombia Birdwatch January 2014 Tour

We had a marvelous time birding with some folks from Oregon and California during out 14-day Western and Central Andes and Choco Specialties Tour. We visited Finca La Araucana, El 18, and Upper Anchicaya on the first leg of our trip. For Photos and videos visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/74491075@N05/sets/72157640615128833/ January 13, 2014: Finca La Araucana, Bichacue Yath and Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek Our first full day of birding began at Finca La Araucana, where we were met by 3 individuals of Smoky-brown Woodpecker, American Redstart, Blue-black Grassquit and a Squirrel Cuckoo flying around us. The “guadua” (bamboo) greenhouses provided an entertaining show of a family of Spectacled Parrotlets, and it was nice to be received by Alvaro Calonje with some coffee and tea on the balcony. The show started with Crimson-rumped Toucanet and a myriad of tanagers, including Summer, Scrub, Flame-rumped, Golden, Hepatic and Fawn-breasted. A flowering “guayacan” tree, with its impressive yellow flowers, attracted Rusty Flowerpiercer and an impressive amount of hummingbirds that included Long-billed Starthroat, Black-throated Mango, White-necked Jacobin, and Western and Andean Hummingbirds. A very productive morning ended with a lunch consisting of a “tamal” on the canopy terrace of the Bichacue Yath reserve, where we were blessed with incredible views of the endemic Colombian Chachalaca. The excitement in the air was felt by everyone, and it was no secret that we were all very eager to get to El Pato, bordering the Farallones National Park. We arrived at Jaime Certuche’s place, where he greeted us and shared his story with the group. An avid hunter, Jaime changed his ways recently and now considers himself a conservationist, caring for an active Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek on his property that he graciously allowed us to visit. A life bird for half of the group, 6 individuals entertained us for a few hours, making the steep but short hike worth our while. Content, we enjoyed some organic coffee and fried bread offered by our hosts before heading to the hotel in Km 18 for s nice dinner and rest. January 14, 2014: Anchicaya The first birds of the day were Torrent Tyrannulet and Yellow-faced Grassquit just outside El Queremal. As we descended the western slope of the western Andes in the Anchicaya region, our first stop yielded Glistening-green Tanager and excellent views of Brown-billed Scythebill. A superb day for hummingbirds, we were able to add Green Thorntail, Empress Brilliant, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Booted Racketatil, Violet-tailed Sylph, Green-crowned Woodnymph, and Greenish Puffleg to the list. The group certainly enjoyed the very handsome Ornate Flycatcher, and Orange-bellied Euphonia was certainly a crowd-pleaser. We arrived at “El Descanso” (The Rest Stop) and met Doña Dora and her grandson Josman, a young birder who was as excited as can be to receive his first pair of binoculars, a thoughtful gift by Jim and Linda Thomason. A small colony of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas nests near the house, so we enjoyed these before we set out on a shot walk as the activity at the feeders was low. We enjoyed great views of Bat Falcon, Lemon-rumped Tanager and Silver-throated Tanager before lunch. A delectable lunch was followed by an hour of rest and before some great afternoon birding. Most notably we saw Red-headed Barbet, Black-billed Peppershrike, and Rufous-throated Tanager before a light rain had us in the van and on the way to the hotel for a nice dinner, list-making and rest. January 15, 2014: El 18 We started the day walking along the road close to the Hotel where birding is very productive. We heard many birds like the endemic Chestnut Wood-quail, Russet-crowned Warbler and others. Suddenly the birds began to appear and we had views of Streak-capped Treehunter, Scaly-naped Parrot and the first view of the special and endemic Multicolored Tanager. Afterwards we took the road to The Raul’s Place “the hummer’s paradise”. Just after getting off the van we started to enjoy the plethora of hummingbirds and tanagers visiting the feeders, the experience with the hummers was very close and the photographers were especially excited. Our trip list began to grow; Long-tailed Sylph, Brown Violetear, Buff-tailed coronet, Purple-throated Woodstart, White-necked Jacobin, amongst other hummingbirds. Tanagers included Saffron-crowned, Golden, Golden-naped, Black-capped, and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager. Of course, Red-headed Barbet showed off for us before we began our hike along the road from Raul’s place. The activity was hectic, everyone commenting on what an amazing time they were having. Some of the specialties we saw included Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Green-and-black Fruiteater, a very special and close view of Tawny-bellied Hermit eating insects, and the amazing Collared. The highlight of the day was most definitely views of a pair of Golden-headed Quetzal building a nest. The female and the male gave us a solemn nature show, On our way back to lunch the rare Scaled Fruiter made an appearance, and the group had a very pleasant Tapaculo experience, in this case with the near endemic Nariño Tapaculo. After lunch we walked along the same road seeing similar birds, adding specialties such as Olive-backed Woodcreeper, Golden-winged Manakin, we had again another special experience with the Quetzal and better views of the endemic and vulnerable Multicolored Tanager. We went back to the Hotel to have an early dinner and prepare for our early morning departure down the western slope of the western Andes towards San Cipriano, in the Pacific Region.