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  • Writer's pictureRomy Jansen

It's a Wild Life! – Roadside Birding

Most of the time it is just the two of us; no park rangers, no hotel staff, no other birders, no guides. This is because we do a lot of roadside birding. That means that we walk a road in good habitat for a few kilometers and search for specific bird species. We love to walk in the cloud forest habitat with an altitude between 1500-2500m. There are many nice bird species who live in this habitat, and they are especially active when it's foggy and rainy. We also love the páramo habitat. This habitat is higher up the mountain. Páramo vegetation is lower and therefore we can observe birds at eye level.

We visited some nice places around the capital of Colombia, Bogotá. We visited Chingaza NP, east of Bogotá, to search for the Spectacled Bear, which occurs in the National Park. This is the only bear species that lives in South-America. Although the Páramo landscape was really beautiful and we saw some nice birds, we didn't find the bear.

We did some roadside birding on the road towards Sumapaz NP, a park south of Bogotá. It is always nice for our budget if the birds already occur along the road before the park and we don't need to enter the park or a private reserve. Besides, the National Parks are really strict and opening hours are not birdwatching friendly. Therefore it's great to do some birding before the park entrance. Near Sumapaz we slept on a pull over along the road. The next morning, we thought we were the only ones birding that area. But while walking along the road, suddenly a car stopped and a really enthusiastic man stepped out of the car, yelling (in Dutch): "I read your blog!!". How awesome that he came all the way to Colombia to let us know that he loved our blog and our journey :)! We had a nice chat and took a picture together. Unfortunately there wasn't time to bird together, but for sure we will meet up another time.

We also visited Chicaque Natural Park, southwest of Bogotá. Chicaque NP is a private reserve. We wanted to spotlight there to search for the rare Brown Dwarf Hairy Porcupine. We could only do that if we stayed in the reserve. This meant sleeping in a cabin down in the valley and leaving our motorhome at the parking lot at the top. They have nice wooden cabins with a fire place. We've got this nice cabin as a birthday present from Rob his parents, because we turned a year older. Really sweet! We searched for hours in the rain in the evening, but didn't find the porcupine. We even set our alarm again at 4:00 in the morning to search another 2 hours, but without luck. Luckily, after all the searching we had a cosy fire to warm up again in the cabin. After this night, we stayed in an apartment in Bogotá for a couple of nights to arrange some car stuf. Of course we also took some rest (meaning: arranging the next part of the trip and editing photos) while eating delicious food out of the oven.

After our time in Bogotá we continued our travel towards Manizales. We went to some nice private reserves with hummingbird feeders and Antpitta feeders and we met a lot of nice people at these places. It's fun to not only meet people at the places that we visit, but to also meet people from all over the world. Before our World Travel, Rob prepared the birding and mammal locations by using trip reports from other birders and mammal watchers. In these trip reports people write down which places they visit, which birds/mammals they saw and give practical tips. We wanted to do something back for this community, because we really appreciate the time and effort they put in making these reports. For all the visited countries we made a trip report with accurate information, reported our special sightings and of course included a lot of beautiful photos of stunning birds and mammals. And the fun part is that people who read these reports are happy with this information and also want to give something back again. We received a lot of great tips for the countries and places that we hadn't visited yet. Sometimes it even feels that we make new friends that we didn't even meet in real life yet :) Besides this fun outcome of making trip reports, we believe we can make a difference. By writing down practical information that makes it easier to visit places on a normal holiday, we help local places to receive more ecotourism. More ecotourism gives locals more incentive to conserve areas and protect the great bird and mammal species that live in the nature parks, private reserves and along the roadsides in South-America :-)

Are you curious about what such a trip report looks like? Then click here.


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