Saturday, August 24, 2019

Second Half of Colombia Day 2 (29Jul2019)

I was getting so many birds in Colombia that my posts will have to split into 2-3 installments per day!  After KM4 we started to head east towards the Guajira Peninsula which is a relatively dry and thorny habitat.  One thing I need to get off my chest is the garbage.  When driving through towns I was really shocked at how much plastics and garbage in general was strewn across an otherwise beautiful landscape.  I realize the people don't have the infrastructure to have garbage hauled but there has to be something they can do to at least keep it restricted to some area of town.  I have been to many places with poor populations but I have to say this was the worst conditions I have ever seen.  Some of the rivers were so full of plastic that you couldn't see the surface of the water. I hope the Colombian government does something to improve this situation.  They would have much more tourism dollars if they could just provide some semblance of garbage collection.

Anyway back to the nice parts of Colombia...  Our next stop was the Via Parque Isla de Salamanca which is the home of a couple targets birds but most importantly one of the few locations where you can find the Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird.  This particular hummingbird is similar to some other species nearby but the sapphire iridescence extends further down the belly.  They live in the mangroves feeding on mangrove flowers.  I was a little disappointed that it appeared the mangroves were not flowering at the time.

This Bicolored Conebill is one of the specialties found at this spot.  It never came down from the canopy so I had to settle for this shot.

Pied Puffbird likewise was a target and it did not take long to find it.

Pied Water-tyrants were accommodating.

One more Yellow-chinned Spiketail posed for me.

A Lesser Nighthawk gave me cracking views which was nice because my previous looks in the Yucatan were high up flyovers.

This American Pygmy Kingfisher was a real prize and we had to be super quiet in order to entice it close enough and out of the thick growth.

Then finally at the end of the walk we found one flowering tree... and one of the crew found our quarry..

Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird - it definitely did not cooperate for good photos and only graced us with its presence for a short moment.

At lunch we stopped at an awesome roadside restaurant (Las Acacias) overlooking a beautiful stream that was flanked on both sides with mature trees and plenty of birds.

Green Kingfisher

The food was great too.  Arroz con Camarones (Shrimp and Rice) became my go to food in Colombia as it was a pretty safe bet for keeping my intestines from erupting.  Colombia like most of the Latin American countries has tap water that can host microbes that us northerners don't agree with.  I especially try and avoid any salads when traveling as the lettuce is washed in local water.  Luckily I stayed healthy up until the very end and I am pretty sure the salad on one of the last nights was the culprit.  I was told in that particular case that the salad should be fine because the establishment was using purified water.

A finca most of the way to our next full stop provided probably one of the most rare birds of the trip.  We stopped at this farm specifically to look for Blue-crowned Parakeets.

No this Bicolored Wren was not the rare bird.

This butterfly will have to wait on ID later.

This Aplomado Falcon was super backlit but was a nice find and the only one for the trip.

Blue-crowned Parakeets were flying overhead but did not want to sit out in the open for us.

In Colombia they have a pronounced white eye-ring and not much blue at all.  In other parts of South America they have orange colored eye-rings and the crown is much more blue.

Whistling Heron - this was our red letter bird.  Usually this bird is found on Llanos way further south in Colombia.  It was super far in a field but we managed some great scope views.

A yellow-headed Caracara was being hassled by a lifer Fork-tailed Flycatcher.

For some reason I always thought Fork-tailed Flycatchers were huge but it turns out they are not much bigger than Eastern Kingbirds.  This Eared Dove dwarfed the FTFL

Finally we found a Blue-crowned Parakeet sitting for us although the light was crap.

A little further along the road at a police checkpoint we stopped for some quick birding.

A couple of Green-rumped Parrotlets were canoodling.

The Fork-Tailed Flycatchers here were more willing to be photographed.

Groove-billed Ani

Carib Grackle

Carib Grackle female.

Rufous-vented Chachalacas

And then our final stop before we drove the rest of the way to our hotel for the night was one of my favorite birds of the trip.

Double-Striped Thick-knee - this cool shore bird is large and in charge.

Our hotel for the next 3 nights was in the coastal town of Riohacha.  The next installments will be from spots around the scrub habitat near Riohacha.  

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Colombia Day 2 - KM4 (29Jul2019)

As became the norm on this trip, we woke very early and left way before the hotel could offer any food.  However, thanks to our early departure we got to our first birding spot early while bird activity was at its highest and ended up with over 70 species in just a couple hours.  The spot known simply as km 4 is coincidentally about 4 kms outside of Barranquilla, or maybe it's not a coincidence.  It is a wetland and farming area which accounts for the nice diversity of birds.

Yellow-headed Caracara - a nice young bird.

Unfortunately Large-billed Terns never came very close so I had to settle for poor pics.

Carib Grackles were mixed in with Great-tailed Grackles.  The above was a Carib.

Cattle Tyrants ended up being a pretty common bird and easy to ID once you saw a few.

Bicolored Wrens were gregarious and loud.

Southern Lapwings were once again ignored by most the group.

Brown-chested Martins were abundant with one tree containing a couple hundred.

Red-crowned Woodpeckers resemble our Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Wattled Jacanas are also common.

Rufescent Tiger Herons are not common so we spent a good bit of time admiring this one.

Bare-faced Ibis

Snail Kite with a snail.

Yellow-chinned Spinetail

Brown-chested Martins are similar to Bank Swallows in the chest pattern with a nice neat band separating the chin and lower breast.

Snail Kite

Amazon Kingfisher

Crested Caracara

White-winged Swallows - a snazzier version of the Mangrove Swallow.

Cocoi Heron - very similar to GBHs.

Pied Water-tyrant

Striated Heron

When this Yellow-hooded Blackbird was called out, I almost dismissed it as a Yellow-headed BB.  You have to stay on your toes when almost every species you see is probably a new one and resist the urge to lump the birds with birds you are familiar with.

These Northern Screamers were over a mile away so I will anxiously await another trip to get a better look.

Amazon Kingfisher and Brown-chested Martins.

Spot-breasted Woodpecker

Brown-throated Parakeet.

Russet-throated Puffbird!

The puffbird was a nice way to end the morning's session.  Virgilio was waiting for us in the shade with some snacks and coffee.  It was blazing hot and I realized that my supply of shirts was probably going to get soiled pretty quick.  We visited several more spots on Day 2, but I will cover those in a separate post.