Paujil Natural Reserve is known for its special bird, the Blue-billed Curassow. However, Scott and I will remember it most for its remoteness and travel challenges. Getting there and back was a chuckle, for sure.
Here we are in a town picking up wine and goodies, watching the multitude of scooters with entire families riding along.
Nearby we mounted up into a Chiva ("goat") , so named because it can go about anywhere and other cars just can't. These bus-like units are truck chassis with diesel engines, 4-wheel drive and benches built in for passengers. The roads they contract to travel are unbelievably rutted and washed out dirt, and birders just can't get to Paujil without one.
I fell in love with our driver and his wife. We exchanged "snacks" and smiles. They were lovely like all Colombians we met. Juan, our bird guide, is on the left. The logistics he had to manage for this trip were truly complicated.
Isn't this a cute picture of our driver and wife, taken from my position on the bench on the second row.
Neither Chiva nor driver was dismayed by log bridges.
The countryside in this area was amazing; "hilly" can't begin to describe it. The livestock took it in stride.
With this view I finally discovered one use for the shoulder scarf worn by so many Colombians. Works as a horse whip.
Blue-and-Yellow Macaws...usually paired up.
More scenery. Lots of deciduous trees.
Well, we're at the gate, but no longer in the Chiva. Every one of us and all our luggage is stuffed into a small pick-up and from here we experienced an up-and-down journey from Hell...some semblance of broken-up cement suggested a one-time road, but, well, no...couldn't call it that. The poor little pick-up (although it had been souped up for just such a purpose) could hardly make it, and there were some strange sounds emanating from the wheels.
We made it, though, and our guide, Juan, trailed in right behind us in a scooter taxi. This is the thatched dining room and the yellow kitchen building.
Here is the bedroom building...thank goodness there was air-conditioning here. It was hot and there were no windows in these rooms.
The Blue-billed Curassow came around to be fed. This bird is so endangered that a decision was made to provide for its food in order to keep it on protected grounds. It's working so far. This is a male with the blue bill gobble thingee.
He has a substantial tail that he can flash around.
This is a female with a less exciting blue bill...but hey, she's showing a pretty good crest!
This Grey-necked Wood-rail shared the corn put out on the ground for the Curassow.
The last time I saw this bird it was in Belize in a mangrove swamp.
I really love this guy.
This one seems to be sending some kind of message.
There were a couple of pet parrots picking around. They'd been rescued as babies and raised by the compound folks.
I met up with this guy while wandering about on my own.
White-fronted Nunbird, found on one of our guided walks
White-fronted Nunbird. Quite a bill he has on him.
When it was time to depart, our guide decided we'd make our exit in a boat instead of the little white pick-up that could. Note the man in orange is wearing the handy, almost ubiquitous Colombian scarf.
We then rendezvoused with our Chiva driver friends and their beastly Chiva who had come back to pick us up and return us to the highway where our bus was to meet us.
On the way we found some birds
Rufescent Tiger Heron
Common Black Hawk
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
White-headed Marsh Tyrant
Once we met up with Hermes and the van again, we traveled along a very good highway followed by a decent but very curvy road up further in the Magdalena Valley to San Vincente de Chicuri so we could have access to the Cerulean Warbler Reserve the next day. I'm so grateful for our fine driver.
We stayed in a darling little hotel, La Quinta Tibigaro. I loved this old quaint place and met the lovely young manager, Isabel. We became friendly and we still correspond on WhatsApp or Facebook. We birders got up the next day to drive further up, up, up to the Cerulean Warbler Reserve. Here we did three things: 1) Enjoyed their hummingbird and tanager feeders 2) Took a moist and slippery hike through wet grass, mud, and cow pies to see the more secretive Black Inca Hummingbird, I couldn't handle both my camera and my balance, so I left my camera behind on this hike. So, no pictures of the Black Inca. 3) Had a delightful lunch at the center. We did not see Cerulean Warblers. Apparently they don't hang out in accessible places on the Reserve. Scott and I got lost on the way back from the Black Inca, but met up with some farm girls who showed us the way back to the reserve.
At the center, it was said that this was an Empress Brilliant
Female Black Mango
Female Thick-billed Euphonia
We bid farewell to our little hotel (and the chocolate the grandmother makes from local cacao beans) and bus-traveled our way back to the main highway where we went straight northish for a while, but then had to turn off again on a very good, but extremely curvy mountainous highway to Ocana, 3600 ft elev, for the next adventure.