Trip report: Northern Colombia (March 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Jose Illanes. This was a set-departure tour.

The tour started in Baranquilla (served by flights from the US) where we started by doing some birding nearby, and quickly found a specialty early on, the Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, as well as White-fringed Antwren. Moving from there, we birded some dry habitat intermixed with wetland, where we were lucky to find and photograph Northern Screamer, a scarce species not often recorded on this tour. Next up was Salamanca Island, where we encountered the glimmering Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, as well as Pied Puffbird and Bicolored Conebill. The following day we visited the dry scrub of the Guajira Peninsula, where a stream of Caribbean specialties trickled in, including Green-rumped Parrotlet, Orinoco Saltator, Chestnut Piculet, and the stunning White-whiskered Spinetail that may just be the best of all the World’s spinetails. On the way to the Santa Marta Mountains we stopped off in lower areas to the Santa Martas, and searched along the Gaviotas Road, finding White-bellied Antbird, White-necked Puffbird and Gartered Trogon. After that Tairona National Park provided some foothill forest to bird in on our way up, and we managed to see White-chinned Sapphire, Lance-tailed Manakin, and a handful of Military Macaws in flight. Once we reached the Santa Marta Mountains we checked into El Dorado Lodge for an extended stay, and birded the famed La Sierra Nevada Ridge, an area where most of the local specialties can be found. On this trip this included the often tricky Santa Marta Parakeet, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Wood-Wren, Yellow-crowned Redstart, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Brushfinch, Black-cheeked (Santa Marta) Mountain-Tanager, and the difficult Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant (this latter species is not typically recorded on every tour). Just below there, we also saw the much-wanted Santa Marta Antpitta too. The list of birds found in the area while we stayed at the lodge in the Santa Martas continued with Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Southern Emerald (Santa Marta) Toucanet, White-tipped Quetzal, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta Woodstar, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, and Sierra Nevada Brushfinch. A foray before dinner at night also yielded the scarce Santa Marta Screech-Owl. Birding the road below the lodge heading towards Minca allowed us to add yet more specialties, like Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Santa Marta Antbird, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, the normally elusive Santa Marta Tapaculo was photographed, and also Yellow-backed Oriole. We rounded out this short tour by birding near Minca itself in the foothills, where the star species were Golden-winged Sparrow, Scaled Piculet, and Rosy Thrush-Tanager, (the latter in its own family and therefore much wanted). As usual, it played hard to get for a while, but we got this gorgeous bird in the end. From Minca we returned to Baranquilla once more for flights home.

FULL Northern Colombia Trip Report March 2018 (low res version, smaller file size, lower quality images file size 5.2MB in pdf format).

FULL Northern Colombia Trip Report March 2018 (high res version, larger file size, higher quality images file size 11.1MB in pdf format).