Friday, 30 December 2022

2022 Part 1: January through early March (Colombia)

As is tradition, here are a handful of nature highlights from 2022. Restrictions due to the pandemic were largely behind us and Laura and I were fortunate to have an opportunity to travel in Latin America and Asia for much of the year along with a few brief stints back home in Canada. 


I was based in Canada for the first week; Nova Scotia for New Year's Day, and Cambridge, Ontario for the remainder. My New Year's birding produced a number of species I wouldn't see at any other point in 2022 including Eurasian Wigeon, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck and Dovekie. I twitched a long-staying Rufous Hummingbird in Oakville, a milestone bird as it was my 400th species for Ontario. The only other birding of note was an unsuccessful search for an overwintering Boreal Owl at Fifty Point Conservation Area; I had to settle for a couple of Northern Saw-whet Owls as a consolation prize. 

Laura and I flew to Colombia on January 8th and spent almost two months in this beautiful, mega-diverse country. In January we visited some areas new to us. A couple of weeks split between the Cali area in the southwest and Urabá in the northwest gave us an opportunity to explore the Chocó bioregion, a threatened tropical forest ecosystem home to an impressive species diversity. Highlights included many rare Chocó endemics like Blue-whiskered Tanager, Baudo Oropendola, Berlepsch's Tinamou and Sooty-capped Puffbird, as well as incredible herping and mothing opportunities. 

We finished off the month with five days in the Villavicencio area to catch up on life, though we squeezed in quite a bit of birding as well. 

Rufous Hummingbird

Blue Doctor (Rhetus dysonii)

White-booted Racket-tail

Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Multicolored Tanager

Saffron-crowned Tanager

Lyre-tailed Nightjar

Toucan Barbet

Rufous-gaped Hillstar

Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant

Scalyback Anole (Anolis notopholis)

Rosy-faced Parrot

Ghost Glass Frog (Sachatamia ilex)

Long-nosed Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys nasuta)

Spotted Antbird

Purplish-mantled Tanager

Semicollared Hawk

Pansy Daggerwing (Marpesia marcella)

Anna's Eighty-eight (Diaethria anna)

Comb Duck (center)

Dwarf Cuckoo

Black-capped Donacobius pair

Savanna Hawk

Capped Heron

Dusky-backed Jacamar

Baudo Oropendola

Terciopelo (Bothrops asper)

Blue-whiskered Tanager

Double-banded Graytail

Opaon sp.

Gliding Leaf Frog (Agalychnis spurrelli)

Tropical Flat Snake (Siphlophis compressus)

Chloronia mirifica 

Caecilia sp.

Pacific Flatbill

Sooty-capped Puffbird

Pipa myersi

Pseudoboa neuwiedii

Great Potoo

Two-banded Puffbird

Scaled Piculet

Cundinamarca Antpitta


As January ended we flew to visit Inírida, a remote region in the far east of Colombia. We explored the white-sand forests, savannahs and endless rivers of this relatively untouched region. The birding was off the charts and we found nearly everything that we had hoped for, including rare species like White-naped Seedeater, Orinoco Softtail, Yapacana Antbird and Orinoco Piculet. The most suprising bird of Inírida was a Crested Eagle which we found along a quiet forest trail, the first of two we would find in Colombia!

After Inírida, Laura and I went our separate ways for a few weeks. She ventured to the north coast of Colombia to volunteer with a foundation, while I stayed behind in Bogotá since I was leading a tour in Colombia for Worldwide Quest. The tour was just incredible. It started with a bang - during our first morning high in the páramo we found a family of Spectacled Bears, while a couple of days later we found a Mountain Tapir! Of course, birds were the main focus of the tour, not just rare mammals, and we came away with many highlights including Hooded Pitta, Yellow-eared Parrot, Cauca Guan, Buffy Helmetcrest, the endemics of Santa Marta, and a dazzling array of tanagers, hummingbirds, antpittas and more. Our tour extension was to the expansive and remote llanos. Though the hoped-for Jaguars remained elusive, the sheer wildlife spectacle made the journey worthwhile!

Black Manakin

Scarlet Macaw


Pompadour Cotinga

Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch

Schoenocephalium teretifolium

White-naped Seedeater

Black-collared Hawk

Olive Oropendola

Giant Otter


Pale-bellied Mourner

Yapacana Antbird

Bronzy Jacamars

Least Nighthawk

Diving Lizard (Uranoscodon superciliosus)

Spotted Puffbird

Slate-colored Hawk

Black-tailed Trainbearer

Spectacled Bear

Blue-throated Starfrontlet

Mountain Tapir

Cauca Guan

Bicolored Antpitta

Buffy Helmetcrest

Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager

Shining Sunbeam

Acorn Woodpecker

Yellow-eared Parrot

Chami Antpitta

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Golden-winged Sparrow

Phrygionis platinata

Santa Marta Antpitta

White-tipped Quetzal

Band-tailed Guans

Blue-naped Chlorophonia

Burrowing Owls

King Vulture

Horned Screamer

Green Anaconda

Pied Lapwing


Orinoco Goose


Our final week in Colombia took place in early March. Laura and I explored another bucket-list destination: Mitú. Located in a remote corner of Amazonian Colombia, Mitú is home to a mind-bogging number of species, many with white-sand affinities. We hired a local guide, Miguel Aguilar, and visited many sites by tuk-tuk. Once again we were lucky with our bird sightings; some highlights included Gray-bellied and Chestnut-crested Antbirds, Fiery Topaz, Tawny-tufted Toucanet, Gray-legged Tinamou and Bar-bellied Woodcreeper. Laura, Miguel and I also discovered the rarest species that either of us had ever found: a Barred Tinamou. This enigmatic species had only been observed by birders/ornithologists on a couple of previous occasions. Ours was the first sight record of the species for Colombia, and only the third time that the species had ever been photographed in the wild. 

Chromacris sp.

Amazonian Barred-Woodcreeper

Yellow-billed Jacamar

Telchin licus

Short-nosed Groundsnake (Taeniophallus brevirostris)

Chestnut-crested Antbird

Rothschildia erycina (below), Citheronia hamifera (above)

Blackish Nightjar

Crested Eagle

Red-dotted Planthopper

Orinoco Piculet

Chestnut-belted Gnateater

Barred Tinamou

Boana lanciformis

Oxyprora flavicornis

Bothrops atrox

Rufous-capped Antthrush

Bar-bellied Woodcreeper

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