TRANSFER FROM RIO BLANCO TO OTUN QUIMBAYA LODGE WITH A VISIT TO PARAMO NP LOS NEVADOS
We had another full-on day today with our transfer to Otun and a visit to the Paramo at a height of around 4000m (13,800ft) above sea-level. But first we made one more visit to the nearest Antippa feeding station next to the lodge, we all wanted better views of the Bicoloured Antpitta and after 20 minutes of patience that is exactly what we got.
Following our success, we loaded up our two 4x4 cars and set off to the high Paramo, which is a fantastic open area above the tree line and covered in scrub, open rocky scree, fountains, lakes and short grassy areas. A whole new collection of bird species awaited our discovery there.
Along the way we noted our first Broad-winged Hawk, we also saw Bare-faced Ibis, Tropical Kingbird, Eared Dove, Southern Lapwing and dozens of Cattle Egrets. As it was a Sunday the road up to the Paramo was busy with cyclist, motor-cyclist, walkers and many cars full of sightseers. As we drove up through the last bit of forest the leading car ran into a pair of Pearled Treehunters, they were sqabbling and flew into the road, but I think they both survived.
At the top the visitor’s centre was crowded with visitors, we grabbed a coffee and a snack and went out onto the wooden decking at the back. The weather was great for birding, it was a bit cold but there was no wind and we had an overcast sky. Our first bird seen from the 'deck' was a Black-breasted Buzzard-Eagle, two of them circled in the distance, we went on to see many of these throughout the day.
The Buffy Helmetcrest
Next came the star bird, the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest, a beautiful little hummingbird, it posed nicely for the cameras, also seen from the terrace was Rufous Collared Sparrow and Pale-naped Brush-Finch. We took a short walk into the Paramo and quickly found White-chinned Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail and the lovely Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant which reminded me of a European Stonechat.
view of one of the lakes in the paramo
The pattern for the rest of the morning was to take short walks and then drive to another area before walking again. The air was pretty thin up there and we couldn’t go too fast or too far. We found a good number of species before lunch, some goodies included Tawny Antpitta, Sedge Wren, Paramo Brown Tyrant, Paramo Tapaculo, Many-striped Canastero (a real beauty) and Stout-billed Cinclodes.
A Stout-billed Cinclodes
We drove down off the Paramo to take lunch at a Spa Hotel which is a recent development and has hot springs, a full size outdoor swimming pool and a beautiful garden walk. After lunch we set off into the gardens where we had a wonderful surprise awaiting us. The garden was full of hummingbird feeders where you could walk right up close to feeding hummingbirds that were not the least bit bothered. It was extraordinary, a most enjoyable experience that we will not forget for long, long time. The hummers would land on outstretched fingers and take food from mini feeders placed on your hand, head, scope or wherever.
a dark picture of the beautiful Many-striped Canestero
The species were magnificent too, especially the Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, the unbelievable Sword-Billed Hummingbird with its outrageously long bill. The Great Sapphirewing, the exquisite Shining Sunbeam and the Buff-winged Starfrontlet, they all put on a fantastic show, it really is a very special place. Before we left we also noted our first Glossy Flowerpiercer, we really had to drag ourselves away.
incredible nmaes forincredible species; the Shining Sunbeam
The afternoon was spent back up on high-ground in the NP looking for more species, a lake offered up Andean Teal and Andean Ruddy Duck, we also notched up Plumbeous Sierra-Finch and Plain-coloured Seedeater at the lakeside car park.
Paramo Brown Tyrant
Driving down on another route we stopped a couple of times and added a few more gems to the list, the Black-backed Bush-Tanager was lovely but the Blue-backed Conebill and the Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager completely out shone the Bush-Tanager.
It was now 4:30pm and we still had a way to go to our next lodge, it started to rain so we set off. We passed through Manizales and Periera before taking an 11km track to the Otun Lodge, it was dark when we arrived. Dinner was served before we checked-in and by 8pm we were settled down with bird-log. We had seen 28 new species today, taking our total to 360+.