Nature Trips Colombia organised the fam trip, which was led by boss Cesar Angel and (excellent) guide Andrea Beltran. Heartfelt thanks to them both - and to the variety of other local guides who accompanied us at various sites. 'Us' was a motley group of hacks, conservationists and tour leaders: Bill Thompson III (Birdwatcher's Digest), George Armistead (Rockjumper), Rob Ripma (Sabrewing), Claudia Vital (Far South Expeditions), Ben Box (South American Handbook), Alex Dale (BirdLife International) and - instigator of the trip - Jim Lawrence (BirdLife International). A great bunch; thanks all!
Back to the South American Bird Fair. This was a well-run event. Morning birding trips preceded afternoon talks and symposia. A single lunch venue made for a great sense of community spirit. The trade-fair element was much slighter than at Rutland, and very much focused on Colombia. Probably 80% of attendees were Colombian. Over half looked to be under 30. The gender balance was perhaps 40:60, female:male. Both the latter two stats are very heartening.
Now let's get into the forest... there's lots to explore, even on a very short trip! We visited three principal sites: Montezuma (where we stayed at the groundbreaking Montezuma Lodge), Otun Quimbaya (government accommodation) and (after a rather lengthy journey) Rio Claro. Sincere thanks to all for hosting us.
A week ago, I attended the South American Bird Fair in Manizales, Colombia. This formed the first part of the a press/fam trip, sponsored by ProColombiaand instigated by BirdLife International, to central Colombia - marking the launch of the Colombia's Central Birding Route established by the US NGO Audubon. I will cover the trip through a series of (text-light, image-heavy) blogs and a suite of articles (in The Telegraph, Bird Watching etc). This first missive focuses on the Bird Fair (which I will write up more fully for Neotropical Birding magazine).
I have alluded to it above, but one of the most heartening things about Colombia was the preponderence of young female birding guides. Attagirls.
I only joined one of the birding trips, which was in forest around the conference venue, Recinto de Pensamiento. We failed to see Golden-plumed Parakeet, but had a nice introduction to Andean birds, including creatures such as Rufous-crowned Pygmy Tyrant, Andean Motmot and White-sided Flowerpiercer (thieving nectar). Pleasingly, there were also several Canada Warblers, a species I'll be writing about in connecting with ProColombia's sponsorship of Asociacion Calidris work on saving the species - which forms part of the BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme.