• Colombia 2018 - Paujíl

    Paujíl 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 Paujíl 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.

    We saw a number of birds on the drive. 
    Capped Heron

    Blue-and-Yellow Macaws...usually paired up.

    More scenery. Lots of deciduous trees. 

    Northern Screamer

    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.

    White-faced Capuchin monkey

    This one seems to be sending some kind of message.

    Straight-billed Woodcreeper

    Yellow-backed Tanager

    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.

    Orange-chinned Parakeet

    Yellow-tailed Oriole

    White-fronted Nunbird, found on one of our guided walks

    White-fronted Nunbird. Quite a bill he has on him.

    Cinnamon Woodpecker

    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-capped Donacobius

    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 Chucurí 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

    Brown Violetear

    Female Black Mango

    Green Hermit

    Thick-billed Euphonia

    Lemon-rumped Tanager

    Bay-headed Tanager

    Female Thick-billed Euphonia

    Crimson-backed Tanager

    Golden-fronted Woodpecker

    Collared Araçari


    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 Ocaña, 3600 ft elev, for the next adventure.

  • Comments on this post (3 comments)

    • Mary Lou Metzger says...

      Wow! Thanks for sharing your wonderful adventures and marvelous bird pictures!!! The variety of hummingbirds and the gorgeously colored birds were amazing!

      May 10, 2019

    • Kathy Wingert says...

      Really enjoy hearing about the adventures you and Scott take. Your pictures are marvelous and I like getting reacquainted with some of the birds I have seen in Belize and Costa Rica.

      May 09, 2019

    • Michael Bowen says...

      As usual, an interesting tale of travel and some stunning photos. I feel good that I have personally seen many of these birds somewhere in Central or S. America, some in the company of Carol and Scott. But not the Curassow!

      May 09, 2019

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