2020 VENT A Birding Adventure in the Llanos of Colombia

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Our Colombia tour started in Chingaza national park (named derived from the Muiscas indians), a location that offered an Andean birding opportunity in the dwarf forest and the paramo, the latter being a habitat found above tree line. At such elevations we found bird diversity low but, highly adapted to dramatic changes of temperatures in a single day! The morning started with rocking views of a pair of the beautifully dressed Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, followed by the skulking Pale-naped Brushfinch and a pair of actives Golden-fronted Redstart. Later, we observed the wonderful Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager and other birds such as the Black and Masked flowerpiercers plus the amazing Plushcap.

During the following day, we took a short flight to El Yopal, a city located in the plains of the Orinoco River (these plains are locally called Llanos). This vast region is part of an extensive drainage crossed by a complex network of rivers and channels that eventually flow into the great Orinoco river. From the city of Yopal we were transferred to Hato La Aurora (hato = ranch) but birds in wetlands alongside of the road kept us busy. We enjoyed amazing views of Scarlet Ibis, Whistling Heron, Jabiru (largest stork) and Orinoco Goose, and by noon we arrived in time for a delicious local-style lunch at the lodge.

Our days in Juan Solito and the contiguous Hato La Aurora were what I would call a birding experience in the good old days. That meant a combination of great birding, farm-like life, no phone line nor mobile signal (WIFI just recently installed in the dining room area), superb llanero-style meals, amazing skies with constellations with the Milky Way over our heads and a sensation of being in the middle of nowhere but surrounded with wildlife! Each morning welcomed us with new birds and every evening offered a great sunset to celebrate what we had seen. A visit to any wetland always offered a surprise and the forest gave us amazing views of wrens, manakins and tyrant-flycatchers.