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Jules Eden – Cleaning up Colombia

By Alejandro Pinto

5th trip for Jules Eden in Colombia and third time with me. Jules is in the top of the world listers, with a lifelist around 7350 species any addition represent a hard work in the field. This time we decide to “clean” the pacific lowlands, few birds in the central and western Andes and the flooded plains in the Eastern side of the country.
First morning and first target. With only a couple of hours before our domestic flight we had time to tried the Yellow-headed Manakin, despite we heard the bird at least 3 times we could not spotted but luckily our effort had success in the last minute! And we spotted one male and headed off to the airport.

The Pacific lowlands

We had four days in the Pacific lowlands around Bahia Solano and el Valle. The area is loaded with birds and some of them are very restricted to the biogeographical Choco. The area is framed by humid – to not say super humid – tropical forest and rough terrain around, the Pacific Ocean meets the slopes of the western Andes and immediately grow up, the lush green forest joins with the blue water. With very specific targets in the way to increase – the already huge list of Jules we explored deeply the area and the primary forest.
We spent our days in the best birding spots: first el Valle road for some openish areas birds.
This area gave us good views of the Rose-breasted Parrot, Black-headed Antthrush, incredible views of the Black-tipped Cotinga and the Tawny-breasted Flycatcher among other 70 species more!


The Utria trail, a 12 km single track into the forest was part of our second birding session, we spotted high quality birds including the very restricted Baudo Oropendola in a nesting site and other 40 species more!


Utria National Park area is by far one of the most beautiful coves in the area, the mangrove forest is also very productive for birding and home of restricted birds. Early morning we invested about 1 hour to get spectacular views of the Humboldt’s Sapphire, after spotted other different hummingbirds and other birds like: Yellow-throated Toucan, Pied Puffbird, Blue Cotinga among others. After a 1km walk in the pasarela crossing the mangrove forest we reach a good spot for the Brown Wood-Rail and we watcher two of them. We crossed the cove by boat to Cocalito trail a single track into the primary forest, despite we missed our main target, the Sapayoa, we spotted other good birds like the Great Curassow! On the way back, the Dolphins gave us a nice show, playing with our boat.
Our last full day took place in the botanical garden in the outskirts of Bahia Solano, our main target the Sapayoa required a really hard walk and job! This day we walked over 12 km and we spotted at least to Sapayoas near a creek into the primary forest. Also other superb birds included: White-ruffed Manakin, Spotted Antbird, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Ornate Hawk Eagle among others!

The Antioquía Brush Finch and the Indigo-winged (Fuerte’s) Parrot

A really successful day, with only two targets we had to move fast. An early morning started in the way to reach San Pedro de los Milagros in the outskirts of Medellin, the bushy areas here are home of the recently re discover – after 50 years – the enigmatic Antioquía Brush-Finch, a really range restricted bird with a estimation of small population. We got this bird before 7 am and that gave us a good chance to drive 5 hours south in the central cordillera for another Critical endangered, endemic and very restricted bird, the Fuerte’s (Indigo-winged) Parrot. As soon as we got the right area, we spotted about 5 of this parrots flying back and forth in between some trees, what a day!

Montezuma Rainforest

This is a renowned place, montezuma is home for at least 500 bird species, but again we had a very specific list of targets and we worked for. During two days we provided new species for Jules: Choco Tapaculo, Scaled Fruiteater, Black Solitaire, Flammulated Treehunter, Bronze-olive Pygmy Tyrant, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Cloud-forest Pygmy Owl. Despite those ones were news, we got incredible views of many other species: Nariño Tapaculo, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Choco Brush Finch among many others.
Our 8 days trips is already over 300 species seen and heard.

Foothills and the llanos, the last portion

Starting with a superb bird, range restricted, discovered in 1989 and describe in 1991, the critical endangered Cundinamarca Antpitta. We got spectacular views of this bird and we enjoyed it for a while in Sendero la Herreria , a small farmhouse in the mountains with a small patch of forest where this specie is allow to live freely. Our second target in the foothills in a lower elevation area was the Two-banded Puffbird. Despite we tried in good spots along the main road to go to the flooded savannas further north we couldn’t spotted it, but as usual we have backup places and we manage to watch this bird in the late afternoon plus other nice species: Bare-faced (Spectacled) Thrush, Yellow Oriole, Chestnut-fronted Macaw among others.
Our llanos and flooded savannas part of the trip took place in Hato la Aurora, a 17.000 hectares ranch to move freely looking for birds and wildlife. Despite our targets birds we saw over 140 species in two days into this ranch and we were very successful with our targets: Pale-headed Jacamar, Crestless Curassow, Sharp-tailed Ibis, White-bearded Flycatcher, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Venezuelan Troupial, Masked Cardinal, South American (Pantanal) Snipe and Thick-billed Seed Finch. We only missed the Bearded Tachuri and the Masked Yellowthroat. During our rides through the ranch we saw other spectacular birds: Scarlet Ibis, Jabiru, Orinoco Goose, Glossy Ibis, Green Ibis, Brazilian Teal, Blue-tailed Emerald, Scarlet Macaw, Brown-throated Parakeet among many others.
Successful trip. It was Jules 5th trip to Colombia and with a world lifelist over 7350 it is a real challenge to provide him new species but we saw at least 30 lifer for him.


We ended our 14 days trip with a 428 species list!

Top birds of the trip

Humboldt´s Sapphire
Brown Wood-Rail
Rose-faced Parrot
Antioquia Brush Finch
Fuerte´s (Indigo-winged) Parrot
Antioquia Brush-Finch
Cundinamarca Antpitta
Baudo Oropendola
Choco Tapaculo
Black Solitaire
Scaled Fruiteater
Pale-headed Jacamar
White-bearded Flycatcher
Great Curassow
Crestless Curassow
Sharp-tailed Ibis
White-tailed Goldenthroat
Thick-billed Seed Finch
South America (Pantanal) Snipe


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