Day 93: Mangroves and Migrants

Spring migration begins to kick in.

April 3, 2015, Cali, Colombia — For my last morning in northern Colombia, Lorenzo suggested we visit Salamanca Island, west of Santa Marta, where a system of mangroves and lagoons might offer some different birds. The ever-cheerful Anival drove us out there early so we could hit a Chestnut-winged Chachalaca stakeout at dawn, and we spent the rest of the morning in the mangroves.

I saw my first Belted Kingfishers, Western Sandpipers, and Northern Shovelers of the year—as I move north, I’m seeing more familiar birds from North America! It was interesting to watch Tennessee Warblers side-by-side with endemic Sapphire-bellied Hummingbirds. The warblers seemed antsy. Within the next month, all these neotropical migrants will surge northward on their spring migration; I just hope a few of them hold on in Central America for a couple more weeks, because it will be much easier for me to find most of the migrants on their wintering grounds.

On the drive in, Anival saw an oncoming vehicle clip a flying Brown-throated Parakeet, and he whipped our car over to the shoulder, hopped out, and came back a minute later holding an unhappy-looking parakeet with an apparently broken wing. Lorenzo held the poor bird in a towel while we drove the rest of the way to Salamanca. After the parakeet realized it wasn’t immediately going to be eaten by a predator, it perked up and started clambering around inside the car, admiring the passing view with wide eyes. We left the bird to be nursed by the biologists at Salamanca park headquarters.

Anival and Lorenzo dropped me with well-wishes at the Santa Marta airport this afternoon, after five awesome days in the Santa Marta region, and I took a short hop over to Cali. I’ll spend the next nine days in the west Andes, searching for a few more Colombian endemics, before leaving South America behind!

New birds today: 9

Year list: 1915

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