Trip report: Northern Colombia Group 1 (Feb 2017) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas. This was a set-departure tour.

This is a great little tour that features a nice variety of habitats, accommodation, scenery, and of course birds in a surprisingly small area. The Santa Marta mountain range (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta) dominates the landscape; it is totally isolated from the Andes yet is home to Colombia’s highest mountains, reaching nearly 19000 ft. (about 5700 m.); as it is home to a large concentration of endemics, it was the main focus of the tour, but we also did not ignore the deserts, lowlands forest, and wetlands also found in the region. We saw over 300 species of birds on the tour, including 18 of the Santa Marta endemics. It’s hard to pick favorites, but some that come to mind include several glowing Vermilion Cardinals, a bold Chestnut Piculet, Crested Bobwhites out in the open, a posing Lance-tailed Manakin, flashy White-tailed Starfrontlets, record numbers of White-tipped Quetzals, the Santa Marta Antpitta that finally showed itself, a pair of Strong-billed Woodcreepers so close we could nearly touch them, a close encounter with the as-of-yet-undescribed “Santa Marta” Screech-Owl, protracted views of a Lined Quail-Dove, and the very expressive Black-backed Antshrike shown above. Once again we had a cheerful and fun-loving tour group that made it enjoyable for everyone; thank you!

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