13 January 2009

Reinita Ceilo Azul Reserve, Colombia

After El Paujil Reserve, we went to the Reinita Cielo Azul Reserve, about a day's drive to the northeast. "Reinita Cielo Azul" is spanish for Cerulean Warbler, a species that breeds in North America but has been declining because of loss of its wintering habitat in South America. Just like we missed el Paujil in El Paujil Reserve, we also didn't see any Cerulean Warblers at Reinita Ceilo Azul Reserve. But also like before, we saw many cool birds here. The biggest highlight for me here was the hummingbirds. I saw four species here, including the rare endemic Black Inca (first photo below), the bizarre Booted Racket-tail, the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird (second photo below), and the Andean Emerald. Another highlight was a breeding pair of Vermillion Flycatchers, feeding a baby in the nest right in front of our cabin (third photo below).
We had only one full day in this reserve, so the overall diversity of species we saw was not as high as at El Paujil. For example, we saw only one kind of frog and no mammals. But there were more habitat types here, and so the bird list made up for the shortage of other species.

07 January 2009

El Paujil Reserve, Colombia

While I was in Colombia I had the fantastic opportunity to join Stephanie, her dad Peter, her brother John (above right, photo by Stephanie), and her cousin Esteban (above middle) on a trip to two ProAves reserves in the lowlands along the west slope of the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes. The first reserve we went to was El Paujil, designated to protect the endangered Blue-billed Curassow. The Blue-billed Curassow must be in serious trouble, because even at the reserve named in its honor it has never been photographed, and a maximum of two individuals are currently thought to live on the reserve. One of the biologists doing surveys for the species there told me that they had never seen one.
We didn't see the Curassow, but we did see many cool birds here, including my first parrots and my first toucans ever. However, the birding was slower than I expected. I should have anticipated this, because being in a rainforest meant that the vast majority of birds were heard and not seen. I don't know any of the tropical birds by sound, and neither did our guides, so I was only able to identify the occassional bird that gave me a good look. Still, we found some very neat birds, such as the Plumbeous Kite and White-fronted Nunbird shown below. The herps were also cool, although I found it frustrating to not have a book to identify them with. The frog below is a treefrog in the family Hylidae, but I'm still trying to figure out which species. . . .