Perhaps it was the massive cathedral, lit in ever-changing colour, or the plaza filled with christmas lights and busy market stalls, or maybe the constant clatter of hooves as locals strutted their horses over the cobbled streets, but an evening in El Jardin, Antióquia, was a treat. We arrived from Bogotá after a short flight, followed by a long and winding drive from Medellin, and installed ourselves in a hotel next to the Plaza. Dave managed to discover that there was a lek (communal display area) of Andean Cock of the Rock, a spectacular contingid species I had not even counted on being able to see, within 5 minutes of town.
A short walk in fading afternoon light down to a roaring creek surrounded by banana plantations, and within moments we could hear their metallic cries over the sound of water. At least five crested males, impossibly luminous orange contrasting with black and grey wings, made an unforgettable site as they displayed in trees overhanging the water. Surrounded by plantations and within site of the edge of town, it was astonishing to me that the lek persisted here, as it probably has for hundreds of years.
The following morning we took a smoky hour’s ride by 4×4 up to Reserva Loro Orejiamarillo, a project which saw the start of one of Colombia’s most active non-government conservation organisations, ProAves. Initiated to conserve the last remaining population of the Yellow-cheeked Parrot (a species dependent on palm hollows for nesting) their efforts here have seen the population of Loro Orejiamarillo rebound, and ProAves have gone on to create some 26 other reserves dedicated to the conservation of Colombia’s threatened and endemic birds. Highlights here included views of the eponymous parrots, Golden-capped Tanager, Lachrymose Mountain Tanager, Pearled Treerunner, Tanager Finch, and Barred Fruit-eater. Chestnut-naped Antpitta called from thickets everywhere, but remained elusive.
Colombia, El Jardin, Antióqia, a set on Flickr.