Welcome to Birds In My Bins And Lens: Eyeing The Avifauna And Fauna Of The Americas. It has always been a childhood dream of mine to travel to the tropics. I vividly remember being nine years-old, thumbing through seemingly endless stacks of Ranger Rick, National Wildlife, National Geographic and International Wildlife Magazines, dreaming of visiting such wonderful places as: Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, etc. in order to see all the great birds and animals that call these places home. Finally, after 40 years, I am fulfilling my childhood dreams.

Photo Above: Flame-faced Tanager (Male) Ecuador August 2014


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Monday, October 15, 2012

COLOMBIA. OCTOBER 4-11, 2012

I had the awesome opportunity to travel to Colombia for a special birding trip with two of my good friends, Tom and Jeff Pavlik (a.k.a "The Brothers Pavlik"). Now, I have traveled with these two before, on a wonderful trip to Costa Rica in 2011. So, I knew that they were people I could get along with very well and that they would make this trip a total blast! They didn't disappoint! Apparently, I didn't freak them out too badly on our trip last year to Costa Rica--seeing they asked me to tag along on this trip.

When my family and friends heard I was going to this South American Country, many voiced concerns about my safety and questioned my sanity for wanting to go to there. We all know Colombia has had a "colorful" and "chaotic" history. I could understand their concerns. I will be honest, I had mine in the back of my head as well. However, the excitement of going far outweighed the fears in my mind and heart.

The reason for my excitement? That is easy. Colombia has the highest biodiversity per square kilometer of anywhere on the planet. At around 1870 species, Colombia’s bird list, is number one in the world. Thus, this beautiful country offers one of the best relationships between species number x great birds / money x time for the birder! More bang for the buck, in other words. Yes, I will say, I got my money's worth on this trip! I hope to return someday! For now, I have other places on my bucket list to get to.

Yes, personal safety, is perhaps still regarded by many potential visitors as an issue of concern when visiting Colombia. However, if you stay clear of the few remaining areas of conflict, you will be safer in Colombia than in most other Latin American countries (Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, etc.). BTW, these countries are on my bucket list. I can honestly say, I never once felt uneasy, unsafe, afraid or in danger at all. Well, only once, which was the car rides in and through Cartagena. Only because they drive like maniacs there. Our Driver and guide, "Wally," did great nonetheless.

 
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Our Itinerary included birding at the following locations: Riohacha. The Guajira Peninsula. El Dorado Lodge in the San Lorenzo ridge in the Santa Marta Mountains. The Santa Marta  Mountain range is completely cut off from the Andes, yet has the tallest peaks in Colombia. Due to its isolation and height, it holds one of the highest densities of endemics of any spot in the entire world. We also visited the small village of Minca. We finished off our stay in the city of Cartagena.

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED ON 10-6-2013. MORE PHOTOS HAVE BEEN PROCESSED AND WILL BE POSTED SOON

PHOTOS  FROM THE TRIP


Brown Violetear in the fog taken at the El Dorado Lodge



Santa Marta Brushfinch (Endemic) taken at El Dorado Lodge


Rufous-collared Sparrow taken at El Dorado Lodge


The endangered and endemic, Santa Marta Parakeet taken high in the Santa Marta Mountains



Double-striped Thick-Knee taken  on the La Guajira Peninsula




Russet-throated Puffbird taken near La Guajira Peninsula



Southern Lapwing taken near Santa Marta



Ferruginous Pygmy Owl taken outside Cartagena



Rufous-tailed Jackamar taken outside Cartagena



Ruddy Ground Dove taken outside Minca


 


MORE PHOTOS WILL BE POSTED SOON!!!!



VIDEOS FROM THE TRIP
 
 
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Lifer White-necked Jacobin from Minca


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CUISINE:  
 
When not eating at the lodges, we ate locally. the lodges food was good and was of local cuisine cooked by wonderful ladies from the local villages.
 
The resturants we ate at were outstanding!! Some of the best food I ever had--ever! One place in particular was like a Brazilian steakhouse. Meat, meat and yes...meat was their specialty. The four of us ordered two huge skewers of meat, about 2 foot long each. Both had chicken, sausage and the best steak I have ever had in my entire life. Simply amazing!
 
We also ate lunch at one of Wally's favorite roadside stands. Yes, many people warn about eating at such establishments, for fears of health. Wally assured us that this "was the place" and it was safe. He claimed that this roadside stand made the best Chorizzo any where. I have to say, he was spot on!
 
 

 
 
The lunch here, was like a five course dinner. Huge portions. The open court atmosphere, the local people and the company of the brother's Pavlik and our guide Wally, made for a very enjoyable meal. I sure wish I could have some of that Chorizzo now!
 
 
 
 

The food in Colombia was awesome. Some of the best meals I ever had were here. One such fantastic meal was a fish luncheon on a beach. The fish was fresh and incredibly yummy. Best fish dinner in my life.

To make this meal even more wonderful, I picked up many lifer birds here. Great Black Hawk and Solitary Eagle to just name two. The raptors here were incredible. Multiple Swainson's Hawks, and Great Black Hawks soared around, while Crested Caracaras and other raptors perched on top of Palm Trees


CHECKLIST OF BIRDS SEEN: 270 Species (only includes those seen). A nice 19 Endemics were tallied. I will denote all lifers soon. Until then, I marked some of those that I know off the top of my head which are lifers

CHACHALACAS, CURASSOWSS & GUANS (3)
Chestnut-winged Chacahalaca (Endemic)
Rufous-vented Chachalaca
Sickle-winged Guan

NEW WORLD QUAIL (1)
Black-fronted Woodquail

DUCKS, GEESE & SWANS (4)
Black-fronted Wood Quail
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Blue-winged Teal
White-cheeked Pintail

STORKS (1)
Wood Stork

IBISES & SPOONBILLS (3)
Bare-faced Ibis
Scarlet Ibis
Roseate Spoonbill

HERONS & BITTERNS (11)
Black-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Striated Heron
Western Cattle Egret
Great Blue Heron
Cocoi Heron
Great Egret
Reddish Egret
Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret

PELICANS (1)
Brown Pelican

CORMORANTS (1)
Neotropic Cormorant

NEW WORLD VULTURES (2)
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture

OSPREYS (1)
Osprey

CARACARAS & FALCONS (7)
Northern Crested Caracara
Yellow-headed Caracara
American Kestrel
Aplomado Falcon
Merlin
Bat Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

LIMPKINS (1)
Limpkin

THICK-KNEES (1)
Double-striped Thick Knee

STILTS & AVOCETS (1)
Black-necked Stilt

PLOVERS (5)
Southern Lapwing
Gray Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Wilson's Plover
Collared Plover

JACANAS (1)
Wattled Jacana

SANDPIPERS (11)
Short-billed Dowitcher
Whimbrel
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Red Phalarope

GULLS, TERNS & SKIMMERS (6)
Laughing Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Least Tern
Large-billed Tern

DOVES & PIGEONS (7)
Common Pigeon
Bare-eyed Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon
Scaled Dove
Common Ground Dove
Ruddy Ground Dove
White-tipped Dove

PARROTS & MACAWS (8)
Scarlet-fronted Parakeet
Brown-throated Parakeet
Santa Marta Parakeet (Endemic)
Blue-winged Parrotlet
Oragne-chinned Parakeet
Blue-headed Parrot
Red-billed Parrot
Scaly-naped Amazon

CUCKOOS (4)
Greater Ani
Smooth-billed Ani
Grove-billed Ani

OWLS (2)
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
Santa Marta Screech Owl (Endemic)-- Newly discovered species, yet to be described.

NIGHTJARS (1)
Lesser Nighthawk

SWIFTS (1)
White-collared Swift

HUMMINGBIRDS (26)
Green Hermit
Long-billed Hermit
Tawny-bellied Hermit
Pale-bellied Hermit
Sooty-capped Hermit
Santa Marta Saberwing (Endemic)
White-necked Jacobin
Brown Violetear
Green Violetear
Sparkling Violetear
Green-breasted Mango
Black-throated Mango
Red-billed Emerald
Coppery Emerald
Violet-crowned Woodnymph
Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird (Endemic)
Shinning-green Hummingbird
White-chinned Sapphire
Buffy Hummingbird
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Steely-vented Hummingbird
Blossomcrown (Endemic)
White-vented Plumeleteer
Speckled Hummingbird
White-tailed Starfrontlet (Endemic)
Black-backed Thorntail (Endemic)
Tyrian Metaltail
Santa Marta Woodstar (Endemic)

TROGONS AND QUETZALS (1)
White-tipped Quetzal

KINGFISHERS (3)
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher

MOTMOTS (1)
Whooping Motmot

JACAMARS (1)
Rufous-tailed Jacamar

PUFFBIRDS (2)
Pied Puffbird
Russet-throated Puffbird

TOUCANS (4)
Santa Marta Toucanet (Endemic)
Collared Aracari
Groove-billed Toucanet (Endemic)
Keel-billed Toucan

WOODPECKERS (4)
Red-crowned Woodpecker
Golden-olive Woodpecker
Lineated Woodpecker
Crimson-crested Woodpecker

OVENBIRDS (11)
White-whiskered Spinetail
Rusty-headed Spinetail (Endemic)
Pale-breasted Spinetail
Streaked-capped Spinetail
Pale-legged Hornero
Montane Foliage-gleaner
Flammulated Treehunter
Plain Xenops
Black-banded Woodcreeper
Straight-billed Woodcreeper
Montane Woodcreeper

ANTBIRDS (6)
Black-crested Antshrike
Back-backed Antshrike
Barred Antshrike
Slaty Antwren
Northern White-fringed Antwren
Long-tailed Antbird

ANTPITTAS (1)
Santa Marta Antpitta (Endemic)

TAPACULOS (1)
Santa Marta Tapaculo (Endemic)

TYRANT FLYCATCHERS (29)
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Lesser Elaenia
White-throated Tyrannulet
Mouse-colored Tyrannulat
Venezuelan Tyrannulet
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher
Sepia-capped Flycatcher
Black-throated Tody-Tyrant
Pale-eyed pygmy-Tyrant
Cinnamon Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Tropical Pewee
Vermillion Flycatcher
Pied water Tyrant
Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant
Cattle Tyrant
Piratic Flycatcher
Rusty-margined Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Lesser Kiskadee
Streaked Flycatcher
Boat-billed Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Grey Kingbird
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Brown-crested Flycatcher

CONTINGAS (1)
Orange-brested Fruiteater

MANAKINS (2)
White-bearded Manakin
Lance-tailed Manakin

TITYRAS (3)
Masked Tityra
Cinerous Tiyra
Cinnamon Becard

VIREOS (5)
Rufou-browed Peppershrike
Brown-capped Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Golden-fronted Greenlet
Scrub Greenlet

CROWS & JAYS (1)
Black-chested Jay

SWALLOWS & MARTINS (5)
White-winged Swallow
Gray-breasted Martin
Blue-and-white Swallow
Southern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow

WRENS (7)
Striped-backed Wren
Bicolored Wren
Rufous-breasted Wren
Rufous-and-white Wren
Buff-breasted Wren
House Wren
Gray-breasted Woodwren

GNATCATCHERS (2)
Long-billed Gnatwren
Tropical Gnatcatcher

MOCKINGBIRDS (1)
Tropical Mockingbird

THRUSHES (6)
Slaty-backed Nightengale-Thrush
Veery
Great Thrush
Pale-breasted Thrush
Black-bellied Thrush
Clay-colored Thrush

FINCHES (4)
Trinidad Euphonia
Thick-billed Euphonia
Blue-naped Chlorophonia
Andean Siskin

NEW WORLD WARBLERS (19)
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Tropical Parula
American Yellow Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-white-Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Slate-throated Warbler
Yellow-crowned Whitestart (Endemic)
Santa Marta Warbler (Endemic)
White-lored Warbler (Endemic)

OROPENDOLAS, ORIOLES and NEW WORLD BLACKBIRDS (10)
Crested Oropendola
Orchard Oriole
Yellow-backed Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Yellow Oriole
Yellow-hooded Blackbird
Carib Grackle
Great-tailed Grackle
Eastern Meadowlark
Bobolink

BANANAQUIT (1)
Bananaquit

BUNTINGS and NEW WORLD SPARROWS (3)
Golden-winged Sparrow
Colombian Brush Finch (Endemic)
Santa Marta Brush Finch (Endemic)

TANAGERS (21)
Gray-headed Tanager
White-shouldered Tanager
White-lined Tanager
Crimson-backed Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Blue-capped Tanager
Santa Marta Mountain Tanager (Endemic)
Bay-headed Tanager
Black-capped Tanager
Black-headed Tanager
Swallow Tanager
Purple Honeycreeper
Bicolored Conebill
Rusty Flowerpiercer
White-sided Flowerpiercer
Blue-black Grassquit
Lesson's Seedeater
Yellow-bellied Seedeater
Thick-billed Seedfinch
Scarlet Tanager

GROSBEAKS, SALTATORS & ALLIES (5)
Vermillion Cardinal
Buff-throated Saltator
Greyish Saltator
Orinoco Saltator
streaked Saltator