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As the first post of our renewed website, this post has to be about one of the biggest birding events of the year, the October Big Day, organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and having placed every October. This Big Day, compared with the one in May, gives to us the residents of the tropics, the opportunity to record the migrants that are absent in May.

This year, I decided to go with the best birding companion I can have, my pretty birder wife Viviana who’s in charge of the lists and other important logistics for this day.

The place

As home is within the Tatamá National Park in the western slope of the Western Andes of Colombia, we decided to apply the law of least effort and we went to the Montezuma road which starts just outside of our house and goes through 12 km of very well preserved cloud forest. what good luck! This national park is considered one of the most biodiverse protected areas of Colombia due to its location in an intersection point of two main ecological regions, the Chocó and the Tropical Andes regions.

The day started with some good flocks and slowly but continuously, we added more and more species to our list. We moved with the help of our very reliable motorbike, a Royal Enfield Himalayan which took us up in the mountain from the 1350 m level to the 2060 meters mark.

The birds

We got many good sightings and we even managed to get a lifer for Viviana, a pretty Slaty-capped Shrike-vireo. We birded two main habitats, semi-open areas and cloud forest. Most of the specialties are found in the cloud-forest but some interesting species, and even endemic birds, occurs in the semi-open spots. Birding in the cloud-forest may be frustrating some times with black shapes flying quickly in the mist and dissappearing as soon as they show up, here is when sound-hearing skills are well appreciated.

Top ten of birds of the day

  • Black-and-gold Tanager (endemic)
  • Gold-ringed Tanager (endemic) the bird in The Andean Birder’s logo and one of the most iconical birds of Colombia.
  • Crested Ant-tanager (endemic) dozens of these social birds.
  • Grayish Piculet (endemic) a common one but quite nice to see it.
  • Slaty-capped Shrike-vireo (mikettae subspecies, very likely to be split soon into 2 species, one for the Pacific region and one for the Amazonian region)
  • Purplish-mantled Tanager (Chocó endemic)
  • Scarlet-and-white Tanager (Chocó endemic)
  • Multicolored Tanager (endemic)
  • White-tipped Sicklebill
  • Velvet-purple Coronet (Chocó endemic)

The Montezuma road is one of the main locations of the Andean essentials birding trip. Check out this tour and enjoy this amazing place

Purplish-mantled Tanager

eBird’s checklists

Here is the compilation of our checklists. We worked on 5 main spots during short time recording every seen and heard bird.

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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