Since the day that I initiated this blog, I only have made one birding trip outside Panama (to Colombia..., my trip to Toronto was not exactly a birding trip). Taking advantage of my vacations, and accepting the invitation made by my good friend Rafael Cortes and his family, I left Panama last march 2nd, heading to northern South America (that's right, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador!), stopping at first in Bogotá, Colombia's capital city. After an uneventful flight, the Cortes family received me with their open arms. Rafael didn't want to waste the time and we used the last hours of light to reach some nearby marshes (one hour away), known as the Lagunas de Siecha, within the Chingaza National Park. I understand that we didn't reach the main marshes, but the remanent we birded were full of life, in spite of its nearness to a town. Soon I started to count my first life bird, in the form of an unexpected (for me) Noble Snipe.
The waterfowls were well represented, with many migrant Blue-winged Teals both in the lake as in the marshy grassland, and a pair of Andean Teal discreetly trying to pass unnoticed, but their dark heads were quite apparent. There were many American Coots feeding at the grass, along with two or three Spot-flanked Gallinules that were life birds for me too. They have a disjunct distribution in South America, and at least one of them can be seen in my picture.
Then, we start to look for our main target, the endemic Bogota Rail in the reedbed. We already heard several individuals calling deep in the marsh, and it didn't take too long before Rafael spotted one individual cautiously walking in the edge of the reeds, allowing great views, and I even managed to take a recognizable photo!
We returned to Bogota (a huge city, here a view from La Calera) in order to have dinner and to prepare ourselves for the next day in search of the mythical Cundinamarca Antpitta. In only one hour of full birding, we saw 21 species, with three lifers; and the Bogota Rail was declared the bird of the day!