Henri Pittier NP/ Andes-tour 2002

This fortnight tour with 5 participants was very nice. The tour started good. On the first day we went to an area where there were good views of Rosy Thrush-tanager (Rhodinocichla rosea). Then we travelled to the Henri Pittier NP. Participants choose to stay in the Rancho Grande for being closer to the birds. They were willing to cope with the hard life here (cold water!). Nevertheless we had lots of fun, good birds and delicious Thai style food cooked by the guide.
Perhaps most memorable was a trail were we saw closeby Golden-headed (Pipra erythrocephala) and Wire-tailed Manakins (Pipra filicauda) drinking/bathing in a tiny creek.
On other days we had Fasciated Tiger-heron (Tigrisoma fasciatum), White-tipped Quetzal (Pharomachrus fulgidus), Red-eared Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoematotis), Violet-fronted Brilliant (Heliodoxa leadbeateri), White Hawk (Leucopternis albicollis), Rufous-lored Tyrannulet (Phylloscartes flaviventris), Black-backed Antshrike (Sakesphorus melanonotus), Handsome Fruiteater (Pipreola formosa) and many others.

Then we flew to the Andes for the second part of the trip. First area was of course La Mucuy (better know as the "Pico Humboldt-trail"). We saw here 3 species of fruiteater: Green-&-black (Pipreola riefferii), Barred (Pipreola arcuata) and Golden-breasted (Pipreola aureopectus). Especially the latter feeding its 2 young nearby was spectacular.
Also a Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia pyrrhophrys) constructing its nest gave good views of this beautiful rarity.
On the San Isidro tunnel road we had Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii), Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana) and Golden-winged Manakin (Masius chrysopterus)!
In La Azulita the speciality was Military Macaw (Ara militaris) flying noisily overhead in groups of 10.
A motorboat took us through the Catatumbo mangroves. Among the best birds: Northern Screamer (Chauna chavaria), Lesser Kiskadee (Philohydor lictor), Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus and White-necked Puffbird ! (Notharchus macrorhynchos)

Endemic Rose-headed Parakeets in the mist Overall we were very succesful on hummingbirds. A total of 30 species were seen, with jewels and rarities as Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti), Amethyst (Calliphlox amethystina) and Rufous-shafted Woodstar (Chaetocercus jourdanii) (in flowering trees). The beautiful Golden-tailed Sapphire (Chrysuronia oenone), the rare tiny Spangled Coquette (Lophornis stictolophus), Copper-rumped Hummingbird (Amazilia tobaci), Wedge-billed Hummingbird (Augastes geoffroyi), Sword-billed Hummingbird ! (Ensifera ensifera), Merida Sunangel (Heliangelus spencei), Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingi) and Booted Racket-tail (Ocreatus underwoodii). These 2 last species were a few peoples goal. We were in the beginning a bit unlucky by seeing only females but at last everyone had brilliant views on male birds with long (racket-) tails.
At the end we counted a total of 336 species seen.

"Hello Jurgen, It is now almost three weeks since we arrived back in Canada after our wonderful trip with you. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of Venezuela, the scenery, the variety of sites for bird watching and experiencing the friendliness of the local people. Here is a piece of an e-mail I sent to a friend describing some of my emotions about the trip:
"Our experiences in the Andes were terrific, the accommodations were comfortable (and clean), the people were delightful and the experiences of hiking in the mountains and driving around to different places was awe-inspiring. It is difficult to describe the grandeur and ruggedness of the mountains, the image of dawn breaking on the peaks with parts in shadow - it is almost impossible to capture those types of senses on film (at least it is for me) We stayed in a number of small villages and the bird watching was terrific with 316 different species in two weeks of which over 200 I had never seen before. I have found that the effects of the holiday have lasted a week, so far, and I hope that they last even longer this time - I often find after 2 weeks away from the office, and having to face a huge pile of outstanding responsibilities, that the relaxing effects of the holiday can dissipate after a day or two back at the office. I think the combination of the spectacular mountain scenery in the Andes and the images of all those new birds that I saw have kept the magic going!"
Thanks so much for arranging such an amazing trip - I will retain those memories for a long time! Hope you enjoy your stay in Colombia."

Glenys from Canada

All pictures were taken during the trip and are copyrighted ( (C) 2004 Jurgen Beckers).

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