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Black-solitaire

There is no doubt that the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives. The world has undergone changes that we did not contemplate a year ago and human life will not be the same, at least not for now.
For the millions of people who live off tourism and outdoor activities, this has been a difficult year. Millions of jobs have been lost and thousands of companies have gone bankrupt in a year that has not yet given up. The birdwatching industry is among all of these impacts, our travels have come to a halt and revenues have dropped to zero. Even so, hope is strong and we move on, preparing and thinking of better strategies to face these new challenges, with our feet on the ground and our eyes in the sky the trees, because we continue birding and we do it with passion, that at least here in Colombia, it characterizes us.
It’s in this way that we’ve slowly returned to action and whether in urban centers or in national parks, we have slowly taken off our flight to resume our paths through the world of birding.

Thus, at The Andean Birder, we got back on track and headed with a group of new friends to the cloud forests of the Serranía de los Paraguas in western Colombia. This short but productive trip gave us great surprises and pleasant moments with representative birds of this ecosystem and of this region south of the PNN Tatamá and north of the PNN Farallones de Cali. The Serranía de los Paraguas is well known for the collective efforts that the Serraniagua community organization has led in the region for more than 20 years in order to conserve the rich biodiversity that inhabits there and that are made tangible in places like the Community Nature Reserve Galapagos, which is part of a network of more than thirty nature reserves.

The Galápagos area is part of the Tatamá NP buffer zone and is entirey connected to it.

This short trip was organized for a group of birding friends and avid photographers from the city of Pereira located a few hours from the Serranía de los Paraguas on the foothills of the eastern part of the Central Cordillera. For a couple of days, we enjoyed as much as we could of dozens of charismatic, threatened, and endemic species that can be easily observed on the Galapagos highway which leads to the small town of San José del Palmar at the eastern end of the department of Chocó. This locality is well known for being among the first open to bird tourism in the first decade of the year 2000 when the first tourists (often of the hardcore or expert type) arrived to add to their lists such rare birds as Gold-ringed Tanager, the Black Solitaire or the Fulvous-dotted treerunner, that to date were among the rarest in this region that is part of the Chocó-Manabí binational corridor between Ecuador and Colombia.

What we got

Male Violet-tailed Sylph

The previous week it had rained like never before in much of Colombia. To the north in insular Colombia, Hurricane Lota devastated the paradisiacal island of Providencia and left heavy damage on San Andrés. To the west, the lowlands of the Chocó region were submerged under the floods of the rivers that flow there with such flow that the Atrato and San Juan rivers are considered two of the largest in the world in relation to their length. And in the Andes, the situation was more or less similar to constant and heavy rains that, to our total surprise, stopped just the night before our departure. Taking advantage of this wink from the weather gods, we went and took advantage of every second of our good luck and that is how we managed to enjoy wonderful moments and get memorable images for our memories.

The group in action


The stars of the day were in this case, rarities found only in these montane forests of the Chocó region. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Gold-ringed Tanager: the Galapagos road is famous for having what is perhaps the most abundant population of this exclusive Colombian tanager and very famous for appearing on the covers of guides, books and others.
  • Black Solitaire: we found a tree with fruits where at least 3 individuals fed the entire time we were there.
  • Beautiful Jay.
  • Fulvous-dotted Treerunner.
  • Tanager Finch.
  • Bicolored Antvireo.
  • Olivaceous Piha.

Click on the image to enlarge

You can find the eBird lists we made here:

https://ebird.org/colombia/checklist/S76639534

https://ebird.org/colombia/checklist/S76639537

https://ebird.org/colombia/checklist/S76639531

https://ebird.org/colombia/checklist/S76639526

About the author

Johnnier is the manager and main tour leader of The Andean Birder. Over 13 years he has been organizing and leading birding trips in the most important regions of Colombia.

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