Monday, April 9, 2012

Birding in colombian llanos and amazon region

After a great, but quick, birding trip to northwestern Ecuador, Rafael Cortes and your blogger host were again in Colombia's capital city, Bogota, making our bags in order to start the last part of this epic trip... we were heading to the eastern lowlands, to the llanos and the amazonic region around San José del Guaviare, in the department of Guaviare (and where the road actually ends!).  For this part of the trip we were joined by Mauricio Rueda, a friend of Rafael who only counts the birds he photographs... and is very good doing that!  We left the busy Bogota city and took the same highway that we used for our first birding trip out of the huge city some weeks before (with Oswaldo).  The winding road runs parallel to a rushing river, and I was searching it, trying to find the Fasciated Tiger-Heron that we saw the last time, but no luck on that (photo from that day).  However, we saw several others birds from the car, including Cliff Flycatchers, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts, Crested Oropendola, Magpie Tanager (near the Monterredondo), and many more.
It was mostly a travel day... but that doesn't mean that we didn't see any bird... as soon as we left the andean slopes we started to see species typical of the lowlands: Roadside Hawk, Pale-vented Pigeon, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Carib Grackle, Oriole Blackbirds, tons of herons and ibises.  Definitively, the bird of the day was the Scarlet Ibis.  Mauricio spotted a flock so Rafael stopped the car in order to have better views... it was a spectacular lifer for me, that color is unreal!  Compare it with the abundant Bare-faced Ibis in the second photo (also a immature Wattled Jacana in the same frame).
We arrived at night, left our thing at our rooms in the hotel and then had dinner with our guides Luis Fernando Galindez ("Lucho") and Derly Blandon (who is training in order to become a guide)  at a tiny restaurant by the main square.  Very early the next day, we left San José del Guaviare and drove all the way to the community of Playa Guio, our home for the next three days.  The cabins were in the opposite of the Caño Negro creek, so we left the car and loaded the boat with all the bags and photographic equipment.  We started birding immediately... the first birds being hordes of ancient-looking Hoatzines (we were no longer in the Andes anymore!).   
Right in the dinning hall, I got my first lifers for the day.  A pair of attractive White-eared Jacamars were flycatching while a gang of noisy Thrush-like Wrens inspected every single branch around the house.
A Ruddy Pigeon started to call right in front of us and soon we were having good views of this canopy dweller.
I'm used to the heat... but in Playa Guio, it was suffocating... however, we enjoyed the beauty of the forest and the river.  A pair of Scarlet Macaws flew in front of us... they turned out to be semi-pets of the house, but they wander freely in the forest (I'm not including this species in my list, of course).
At our cabin (powered by solar panels), we have a close encounter with a young Rufescent Tiger-Heron that allowed some VERY nice photos!  This was our second Tiger-Heron for Colombia.
And all this even before our first walk through the forest!  Stay tuned for more


  1. Las fotos están divinas... ese Ibis Rojo es un espectáculo... debo ir al Sur ya!

  2. How did you get there? Was it by public transport? Do you have an email address for this place?

  3. Hi L fairfax, my friend (who lives in Bogota) took me there in his own car... it was a 8-hours drive from Bogota. There, our contact was Luis Fernando Galindez. There is a facebook group , you can contact him through it.