6th – 7th February – Soata to Cerulean Reserve, Colombia   Leave a comment

P2060125-Soata-hills

We birded in the forested hills above Soata where our main target was the critically endangered Mountain Grackle, after seven hours of searching we found a pair.

P2060132-Soata

In the afternoon we birded some scrubby areas below the town of Soata where we heard and had brief views of Nicefero’s Wren.

P2070161-Paramo

On the 7th we left Soata pre-dawn and arrived on the paramo just as the sun was rising. It was below freezing and there were dramatic views as the sun drove the frost off the espeletas.

P2070159-Paramo

The nearby hills provided a dark background to highlight the back-lit espeletas.

P2070162-Paramo

Although conditions were idea, with many of the espeletas in flower, we still failed to find the beautiful Bearded Helmetcrest. This is my fourth unsuccessful search for this enigmatic hummingbird.

P2070164-Espeleta-flower

Espeletas are well adapted to the cold overnight conditions with furry leaves and flowers to prevent ice crystals damaging the plant.

P2070163-Espeleta

Furry leaved espeletas characterise the high altitude paramo, a habitat that extends at altitudes of over 3000m from Venezuela to northern Peru. Further south paramo is replaced by high altitude grasslands called the puna.

P2070168-cloud-in-valley

As we descended from the paramo we saw this beautiful cloud filled valley ahead.

P2070173-roadworks

Colombia is undergoing a major road building program. This along with lorries on narrow roads, accidents and congested towns greatly delayed the journey.

P2070174-Pratmobile

The driver of this pratmobile thought we were photographing his car because it looked so good! You can’t see the four giant speakers on the parcel shelf from this angle.

P2070175

When there is an obstruction in the road, why do South American drivers push pass on the hard shoulder and on the wrong side of the road?  As they are also doing this on the far side of the obstruction as well, it means that six lanes of traffic are trying to squeeze into one!

P2080178-rough-road

The last three hours of the journey was along rough tracks, we arrived at the Cerulea reserve at 0020 after 19.5 hours on the road!

Posted March 3, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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