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Trip report Magdalena Medio – RN Cañon del Río Claro

A private trip: Magdalena Medio – RN Cañon del Río Claro, November 2021

Birdwatching in Colombia is always a great experience! It doesn’t matter whether it is a long trip or a short one, the numbers are always amazing! In this Trip Report we’ll tell you about a recent private tour, organized for our client Fabienne Seidoux (SWI🇨🇭) who wanted to experience from first hand the birds and the area of the Magdalena Medio, a region with a great biodiversity. To make this happen we spend several days at RN Cañon del Río Claro, Antioquia. This is a private preserved natural area with a tropical dry/semideciduous forest in a karstic landscape with a natural canyon to a river holding cristal-clear to multicolored waters due to its marbled bottom. Our guide on this tour was Alejandro Nagy!


Nov. 15, 2021 / Bogotá – Doradal, Ant.
We start our journey by doing the drive from the capital city, Bogotá to Doradal, in Departamento de Antioquia. In order to do this, we need to drive down the western slope of the Eastern Andes into the Magdalena Medio valley, crossing the Magdalena itself and on to the foothills of the Central Andes. Leaving Bogotá early in the morning gave us time to make a full stop on the way to RN Cañon del Río Claro.
This stop not only will help us acclimate to the high temperatures and humidity, typical in the Magdalena Medio, but will also give us the opportunity to see some species of birds that won’t be found at our final destination. Some of these species were: Northern Screamer, Savanna Hawk, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Dwarf Cuckoo, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Red-breasted Meadowlark, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Black-capped Donacobius, Wattled Jacana (Magdalena), White-headed Marsh-tyrant, Blue-headed Parrot, Bicolored Wren, Band-backed Wren, Straight-billed Woodcreeper. 
Nov. 16, 2021. RN Cañon del Río Claro 
Bird activity started right from the crack of dawn as a pair of Spectacled Owls weren’t too tired to show themselves at 6am, as we enjoyed a freshly brewed Colombian coffee from the observation deck at Cabañas La Mulata. Soon after the first rays of light Blue-headed Parrots start flying across, the Cinnamon Woodpecker starts calling and the Yellow-throated Toucan comes into the scene, singing from a tall canopy perch. 
Our first outing was to the entrance and camping area. Here, we started catching up with some of the more common but still very nice species of Rio Claro: Dusky-faced Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Bay Wren, Collared Araçari, Blue-chested Hummingbird, King Vulture, Broad-billed Motmot, White-tailed Trogon, White-collared and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts, and many others. 
After a home-style lunch and an invigorating siesta, the turn came for some of the forest-dwelling species as we got great looks of Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, White-bearded Manakin, and the endemic Antioquia Brystle-tyrant. A few boreal migrants were constantly heard throughout, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-peewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Northern Waterthrush, Swainson’s Thrush, and the ubiquitous Bay-breasted Warbler. We finished our day’s birding as we witnessed the interesting Oilbirds leaving their cave roost in the twilight of dusk. 
Nov. 17, 2021. RN Cañon del Río Claro 
Once again, a nice cup of coffee while listening to the dawn chorus and its usual players: Little Tinamou, Pale-breasted Thrush, Buff-rumped Warbler, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Black-crowned Antshrike, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Rufous Motmot, Blue-black Grosbeak, Bright-rumped Attila, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Black-capped Pygmy-tyrant and Black-headed Tody-flycatcher. 
Sometimes, when our mind is serene and aligned with nature, the most incredible scenes come to life as something ordinarily natural. This way is how we started the La Mulata trail. After having great looks at a troop of an endemic primate, the White-footed Tamarin (Saguinus leucopus), we hit the jackpot as we turned around the bend. A number of target species commuted together but loosely associated at canopy level: a pair of Saffron-headed Parrots foraging in a tree while two Barred Puffbirds could be seen alternating calls from different trees.
On another nearby canopy a Scarlet-browed Tanager was inspecting leaves while a White-mantled Barbet was slamming a large caterpillar against the tree trunk. As if all this going on was not enough, a Beautiful Woodpecker could be heard calling and briefly seen flying to a tall tree up the hill’s steep slope. A Laughing Falcon and the Common Pauraque gave way to nightfall. 
Nov. 18, 2021. RN Cañon del Río Claro 
A morning’s stake at a fruiting tree by Playa Mármol could only give us outstanding views of three trogon species, White-tailed, Gartered and Black-throated, as well as the Broad-billed Motmot. A few species of tanagers, Euphonias and flycatchers also visited the tree. 
A walk along the road provided other species as Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Pacific Antwren, Olivaceous Flatbill, Long-tailed Tyrant, Rufous Mourner, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Golden-headed Manakin, Plumbeous Pigeon, White-tipped dove, Black-crowned Tityra, Panama Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Oriole, One-colored and Cinnamon Becards, among others. 
Nov. 19, 2021. RN Cañon del Río Claro – Bogotá. 
On our last morning at Rio Claro we gave another try to the fruiting tree from the previous day. On this occasion, we got thrilled by the visit of the Channel-billed Toucan (Lemon-chested) and a pair of Orange-chinned Parakeets. Two species of Euphonias were present at the fruiting tree, the Thick-billed Euphonia and the Fulvous-vented Euphonia, as well as Purple Honeycreeper and Green Honeycreeper. A Rufous-breasted Hermit was building its nest at the tip of palm frond nearby. 
After fueling up with the typical Antioqueño breakfast, made with fresh fruit, huevos con cebolla y tomate, arepa, quesillo and chocolate, we are ready to hit the road across the Magdalena Medio to be in Bogotá just before the Trancon (rush-hour) strikes back.
Little by little, the bird watching tourism is returning, it was a few days with Fabianee, more enough for her to enjoy and get many lifers!
Check our next tour in Colombia!
 SOUTHERN COLOMBIA – “The Ultimate in Birding Routes in Colombia, a Rediscovered Paradise”
📆 20 FEB – 07 MAR
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