March 18, 2015, San Vicente, Colombia — Today was a travel day. I took a short morning flight from Quito to Bogota, followed by a domestic connection to Bucaramanga in northeast Colombia. As the plane descended this afternoon, I could see rolling hills and a sprawling city—Bucaramanga is Colombia’s fourth-largest city (who knew?). By the time we’d parked at the gate, my daily bird list was up to five species: Black Vulture, Cattle Egret, Gray-breasted Martin, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and a Cattle Tyrant. Even the runways in Colombia are birdy!

I will spend the next three weeks in this country, with some hops from place to place. First, I’ll take a few days to explore a couple of relatively remote reserves in the Magdalena Valley with some visiting friends. Then, I’ll have five days in the Santa Marta mountains, one of the world’s most endemic-rich areas, before making a weeklong transect across the West Andes from Cali to Medellin. Add a couple of days around Bogota in between, and I should rack up a pretty good bird list! (It’s possible to see 1,000 bird species in less than a month in Colombia. I won’t see quite that many, though, as I will be concentrating on the mountains where most of the special birds are found.)

In Bucaramanga, I met up with Jim, Bruce, and Ryan, visiting from my home—the American Pacific Northwest! It was good to see some familiar faces, and Bruce even brought a tiny care package from my mom with some clean socks. The four of us will explore together for the next several days. It’s good to be among friends in a new country.

New birds today: 3

Year list: 1720

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