Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Chingaza National Park - Observatory des Kolibris

We headed up to the dizzy heights of 3500m at Chingaza National Park this morning. But on the way up we made a few stops in the remnant patches of cloud forest, picking up some goodies along the way. I wouldn’t place White-throated Tyrannuletin that bracket but this was the first bird of the day, quickly followed by Pale-naped Brush-Finch, several Glossyand Masked Flowerpiercers, and a perched Coppery-bellied Puffleg. 

Coppery-bellied Puffleg

A short drive higher and we were getting up close and personal with a pair of Andean Guansthat flew down to take a look at us, but even they were eclipsed by a group of absolutely stunning Black-chested Mountain-Tanagers. Around the next bend the endemic Golden-fronted Whitestartappeared briefly, but the endemic Silvery-throated Spinetailshowed much better. A little higher up the road again and we came across a nice flock with White-browed SpinetailBlack-crested WarblerSlaty Brushfinchand Blue-backed Conebillall seen well. As we drove higher the scenery was truly spectacular with mountain peaks appearing out of the cloud and we were distracted from this splendour only by the not-so-splendid Plumbeous Sierra-Finch.

Once at the entrance to the National Park we began walking along the road and quickly found the first of several Bronze-tailed Thornbills seen this morning. There was also Glowing PufflegTyrian MetaltailScarlet-bellied Mountain-TanagerCrowned Chat-Tyrant, and a brief Blue-throated Starfrontlet

Glowing Puffleg
Crowned Chat-Tyrant

As the mist came and went and we enjoyed some drizzle we hit one of those purple patches that you get once in a while, although I’m hoping for many more on this trip! At a bend in the road we could look over the lush habitat of dwarf trees, moss-covered ground, epiphytes and bushes. All of a sudden Jose said he could see a Plushcap, one of the most wanted birds for my group. 


After a little panic when directions were given and the birds promptly disappeared from view for a minute or two we thankfully were treated to repeated views of a pair of stunners feeding below us. Wow! Then a pair of Rufous-browed Conebills gave mind-blowing views, a couple of Pale-naped Brush-Finches lingered in front of us, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager just wanted to have his photo taken and a Brown-backed Chat-Tyrantwas seen. With just Rob and I neglecting the draw of a hot cup of coffee in the nearby restaurant, our vigil in the rain paid of with an Andean Pygmy-Owl being invited to join us. Fortunately it lingered long enough for everyone to get on it and we lapped up the views in the scope. 

Rufous-browed Conebill

Pale-naped Brushfinch
Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager

Andean Pygmy-Owl

Driving back along the road we walked up onto one of the hillsides where we had a great views of a narrow valley which was a good spot to scan for Green-bearded Helmetcrest. Only Rob had seen this bird so far and we were mad for it! Unfortunately the thick mist came in shortly after our arrival and apart from a Black-chested Buzzard-EagleMany-striped Canastero and a close Bronze-tailed Thornbill we had little else in the short time here so walked back to the bus . 

Bronze-tailed Thornbill

We made one further stop in the increasingly bad weather during which time we herd a White-chinned Thistletail calling back at us from close by but by now the weather was ‘pea soup’ so we decided to head lower and find better weather. We did this very quickly and spent a little more time walking along the road and found a thistletail feeding on the hillside above us. Apart from a Mattoral Tapaculo calling we had little else so headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Blue-throated Starfrontlet

The afternoon was spent at Observatorio des Colibries just a short drive away – and what a great couple of hour we were treated to as we enjoyed 13 species of hummingbird visiting the feeders here. Pride of place went to a pair of stunning Blue-throated Starfrontlets, although a majestic Sword-billed Hummingbird was awesome. 

Sword-billed Hummingbird
A pair of Gorgeted Woodstars appeared a few times amidst the numerous White-bellied Woodstars, whilst Mountain Velvetbreast also came in just a few times. 

White-bellied Woodstar

We also saw Great Sapphirewing, both Coppery-bellied and Glowing PufflegsGreen-tailed and Black-tailed Trainbearers, Lesser and Sparkling Violetears, and a few Tyrian Metaltails were also present. 

Great Sapphirewing

Glowing Puffleg
Black-tailed Trainbearer

Black-tailed Trainbearer

Green-tailed Trainbearer

Both Black and Glossy Flowerpiercerswere also in the garden but really we only had eyes for the hummers. 

Black Flowerpiercer

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