March 19, 2015, Pauxi Pauxi Reserve, Colombia — Jim, Bruce, Ryan, and I spent the day on foot, exploring foothill forest inside a remote reserve called Pauxi Pauxi, with a local manager named Arturo. We got a late start because of heavy rain that started about 1 a.m. and didn’t let up until 9 this morning; for the first couple of hours after dawn, we hung out under a covered area and watched birds pass through the nearby trees.
Pauxi Pauxi was acquired recently by a conservation organization called ProAves which has been purchasing land in key areas around Colombia to protect endangered species. This reserve is named for a bird called the Helmeted Curassow (its scientific name is Pauxi pauxi), which, curiously, doesn’t seem to exist here. Arturo has never seen or heard one, and neither, apparently, have some researchers who have surveyed the area. There’s a faded poster of one next to the outdoor refrigerator. Maybe a curassow is hiding in some remote corner of the forest, but they must be pretty endangered if you can’t even find one in their namesake reserve! (Editor’s note: BirdLife International lists the bird as endangered.)
The amenities here are extremely basic: There are two tiny, open-air rooms with bunk beds and a capacity for four visitors. Because it’s so new and requires a certain sense of adventure to reach, few birders have visited this place. Arturo talked about a Ph.D student who came last year as if nobody else had been here since then. So, when we walked a rugged trail into the wet forest this morning, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. By dusk, we’d hiked several steep miles over slippery mud and rocks, and encountered 115 species of birds (including 10 species of wintering North American warblers!). Sometimes it’s rewarding to explore off the beaten path. The soup, eggs, and potatoes that Arturo’s wife cooked for dinner were delicious.
New birds today: 30
Year list: 1750