Thursday 15 January 2015

Colombia 2015 - it's on!

It is that time of year again - the days are short, the bitter wind howls, the ice-crusted snow lies heavy on the ground and the temperature hasn't risen above zero degrees for quite some time. While there certainly is a suble beauty to be found in the frosted landscape of Ontario this time of year, I usually try to migrate to warmer climes for a brief period each winter. Last year, I joined two other intrepid birders - Steve Pike and David Bell - to an excursion to the forests of central and eastern Panama (Which reminds me - I still need to finish making the day-by-day blog posts about that trip!). This year I am venturing a little further south - Colombia.

By this time tomorrow I will have hopefully landed at the Barranquilla airport in northern Colombia; a short distance from the world renowned Santa Marta mountains - famous with birders due to its high number of endemic species. I will be meeting up with three other fine gents - Steve Pike, Dan Riley, and Dan Wiley. Steve Pike I have known for years, as he is based out of Windsor, ON and visits Point Pelee as often as he can. Visiting Panama with him last year was a riot and we had a ton of awesome birds, herps, insects, mammals and adventures on that trip. There is never a dull moment with him around, that's for sure! Dan Riley has been a good friend of mine for close to a decade. I met him back in 2005 when I was getting into the "herp scene" in Ontario, and Dan and I attended university together at Guelph. He was one of the first to get me interested in birds. I still remember how surprised I was when he told me that it was possible to see over 30(!) species of warblers at Point Pelee each spring. In contrast, Ontario has only 15 species of snakes. Dan and I have talked about doing an international trip together for some time but have never made it happen until now. Dan Wiley, not to be confused with Dan Riley, grew up in the Hamilton area but now lives in Illinois and does work with snakes, I believe. I don't personally know him well but am looking forward to getting to know him and finding some awesome herps and birds with him!

The other three guys have been in Colombia for over a week already and just finished up a week in Mitu, located in the Amazon. Here is a recent photo of them with their guide in Mitu that I stole from Steve's Facebook page. I don't think that Steve has enough gear with him...

After about a week in the Santa Marta region, we'll hop on a flight to the capital, Bogota, where we will meet up with David Bell and bid adios to Dan Wiley. I've known David since our early days at the University of Guelph and have birded throughout Ontario with him. Last year he joined Steve and I in Panama and was a big reason why we saw as many birds as we did - he's as sharp as any birder I've met! We'll spend around ten days traveling across the three ranges of the Andes in central Colombia, hopefully coming across a ton of range-restricted species, endemics, and generally just awesome looking birds and other wildlife.

It should be a blast and I'm excited to get down there and join the guys! If internet permits I may post occasional updates to the blog throughout the trip from my phone, though I imagine that posts will be sporadic at best. In such a biodiverse country as Colombia we will likely be maximizing every waking minute to finding the spectacular wildlife that calls it home!


Alan Wormington said...

One is Riley and one is Wylie .... come on, get with the program !!!

Anonymous said...

Spike would probably be well over 6 ft. tall if he wasn't so loaded down all the time.

Backcountry Balkwills said...

Really looking forward to pics and stories from this trip! :D