practicalities, half 3 – 10,000 Birds

Technically, we have been within the Orinoco River Basin of wider Amazonia. But, not like the black shoe-sucking mud of Amazon additional south, that is Amazonia of white, sandy seashores (!) and no mud at riverbanks. The late November to early December was the start of a dry season and nobody wore rubber boots, all birding was executed in light-weight mountaineering footwear.

When José Arcadio I used to be not concerned with some new invention, he constructed hen cages to fill Macondo, a fictional city created by Gabriel García Márquez, with hen songs, which by the way enabled the gypsies [read: birders] to seek out the city. In Inírida – on older maps Puerto Inírida, there is no such thing as a want for cages, you’ll be able to hear birds on a regular basis!

“Inírida is, mainly, an island in the course of the good Ramsar wetland of the River Star (Estrella Fluvial) of the Orinoco”, explains Luis Eduardo Ureña, industrial director and founding father of Manakin Nature Excursions. “A spot with out land entry routes and solely with the potential of getting there by air or river, in a visit of 4 or 5 days by boat.”

Inírida is the capital metropolis of the division of Guainía within the east of Colombia, mere 25 km (15 mi) from the border with Venezuela. Based in 1963, the municipal inhabitants of principally indigenous folks has reached 31,000 by 2018, of which about 11,000 within the city itself.

Getting there and away
The native César Gaviria Trujillo Airport, named in honour of a former Colombian president, is serviced by Aerolinea SATENA, which has three flights per week to and from Bogotá (the flight lasts about an hour and a half). But, out of the 6 days deliberate in Inirida, we stayed solely 5: Satena had an incident of a vulture crashing into an engine in Villavicencio and needed to do upkeep on the airplane, consequently they rescheduled our flight.

Lower than 5 minutes from the airport lies the Fuente del Guania Resort de Lujo, a snug place within the deep shade of tall tree-crowns (generally visited by macaws, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Lettered and Ivory-billed Aracari, and so on.). The proprietor has two lovable Border Collies and a pure-white cat referred to as Alaska.

You’ll love the softness of their beds and the breakfast space within the entrance yard (at 5 am, after we ate, the temperature was pleasantly cool 24 ºC / 75 ºF), however don’t anticipate scorching showers. Faucet water is just not as chilly as in Europe (and, I presume, North America), however to be referred to as lukewarm it ought to be hotter.

We had breakfast within the lodge (tropical fruit, omelette, pure juices and Colombian espresso), and virtually all different meals in a small, household run Moro’s Restaurant, totally booked for our group, so within the instances of Covid we loved a sure degree of isolation. The meals was tasty and hearty.

Pescado moqueado, a fish cooked by steam from a clay range, on the Sabanitas Neighborhood. Picture by Juan Carlos

On scorching days, I significantly loved numerous soups, e.g. ajicero, which is a thick fish soup cooked with various kinds of peppers, and fishes. Basically, native, river fish was unbeatable. There’s a factor with small eating places in small cities: they totally rely upon locals and to remain in enterprise should maintain the meals high quality at its highest.

Faucet water is just not drinkable, though we brush our enamel with it (opposite to the well-known British birder Invoice Oddie’s recommendation “drink and clear your enamel in beer solely”).

Do carry your personal wide-mouthed water bottle. There have been two refilling stations on the lodge, and Manakin Nature Excursions supplied massive plastic luggage of water (saved in a cooler field) within the van or within the boat, however you want your personal bottle when separated from the automobile on a hen stroll.

The native birdlist has reached 462 species, and a few 30 extra are anticipated. Simply consider the nonetheless Unnamed Antshrike (both associated to Chestnut-backed Antshrike, or, given the morphological variations, a brand new species: Inirida Antshrike). Additionally, Inírida is the one accessible place the place the extraordinarily range-restricted Orinoco Softtail could also be discovered.

The immature Orinoco Softail, by Tyler Ficker

Probably the most intriguing side of native birding is the combination of the extra widespread birds of Amazonian origins and people extra localised hen species of Guianan origins. The second group is usually confined to the white sandy soil habitats characteristically drained by blackwater rivers and contains Little Nighthawk, Blackish Nightjar, Inexperienced-tailed Goldenthroat, Orinoco Piculet, Inexperienced-tailed Jacamar, Brown Jacamar, Bronzy Jacamar, Orinoco Softtail, Blackish-gray Antshrike, Pearly Antshrike, Cherrie’s Antwren, Imeri Warbling-Antbird, Yapacana Antbird, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Capuchinbird (the one place to seek out it in the entire of Colombia), Purple-breasted Cotinga (scarce), Pompadour Cotinga, Yellow-crowned Manakin, Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin, Black Manakin, Azure-naped Jay (scarce), Brown-headed Greenlet, Pink-shouldered Tanager, Rose-breasted Chat, Yellow-green Grosbeak, White-naped Seedeater and Plumbeous Euphonia.

Different birds of curiosity embody Slate-coloured Hawk, Nice-billed Hermit, White-eared Jacamar, Golden-spangled Piculet, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, Duida Woodcreeper, Yellow-crowned Elaenia, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Varzea Schiffornis, Amazonian Grosbeak, Masked Cardinal, Yellow-bellied Dacnis and Velvet-fronted Grackle.

Subject guides
So far as I’ve seen, your complete group (together with me) was utilizing the newest Lynx version of Hilty’s Birds of Colombia. But, our native information Daniel Camilo most well-liked some older however extra moveable version.

There’s a Colombian birds app (undecided of the precise title), however it wasn’t met with a lot approval, and even those that purchased it have been utilizing (free) Merlin app way more. Merlin pulls the info out of eBird and was significantly helpful in narrowing down the variety of species to contemplate.

Presently we have been fortunate with the rain, and had a number of quick showers solely, principally through the evening. Inirida has a unimodal rainfall system, with the best precipitation throughout Might-July and the bottom through the December-February interval.

Whereas the temperatures are just about the identical year-round, (barely) decrease temperatures are skilled through the months of June to July and (barely) greater from January to March. The minimal common temperature is 22.3 ºC (72.1 ºF) and the utmost common is 33.2 ºC (91.8 ºF).

When to go to

Picture Manakin Nature Excursions

The drier months of late November to mid-March are thought of the perfect season. However, as ordinary, I’ve some “however” ready, August now looks like the perfect timing from my viewpoint: the utmost precipitation ends virtually two months earlier, however varzea forest continues to be underneath 5 metres (16 ft) of water, and as a substitute of strolling these forest trails, they are often explored by a longboat (but there’s twice as a lot rain in contrast with November, mozzies too). Nonetheless, you’ll be on the tree-canopy top. Would you reasonably go in dry, or through the wet season?

Well being
We have been reasonably fortunate with biting bugs, mosquitoes and chiggers. Sure, there have been some mozzies within the forest (none within the open) and a few folks received a chew or two, but most (together with me) received none. The identical with chiggers in grasslands, a number of folks received bitten however probably the most weren’t.

Previous to the journey I received inoculated in opposition to the yellow fever and renewed my tetanus vaccine (it’s only really helpful and never obligatory, however it is sensible). Malaria is one other factor to bear in mind (keep away from bites by utilizing bug repellent and by sporting long-sleeved shirts and lengthy pants, particularly within the rainforest).

Relating to the Covid, the standard measures have been in place, and nobody received it, not less than no US, Canada, or French contributors who did the obligatory testing on the finish of the tour, as required by their residence nations. I didn’t get it both.

However travelling within the time of Covid places you in unusual conditions. E.g., on the airplane, everybody wore surgical masks on a regular basis, though some wore it beneath their nostril. Then lunch was served, and all of us took off our masks on the similar time…

We had no points by any means and felt completely protected on a regular basis.

Disabled travellers
I take advantage of crutches, and can look again at these few sophisticated moments. Principally, the one conditions the place I needed to be cautious and suppose twice about easy methods to carry out my subsequent transfer was getting in or out of a ship. The harbour has no dock, however a concrete slope and the skipper would normally land the boat bow on it. More often than not it wasn’t too exhausting (and with observe turned even simple).

As soon as we returned to the harbour after darkish and couldn’t land by that slope (all boats have been already tied there), so it was over the closest ferry after which down the car-ramp, which was a bit disagreeable however my information Edson Moroni and the opposite tour contributors have been at my facet and every thing went properly.

On the Fuente del Guania Resort, in my room it was not doable to enter the bathe in a wheelchair (happily, I didn’t want it), possibly it’s doable in some rooms? 

Our ordinary routes by way of Inirida have been from the lodge to the Moro’s Restaurant and to the harbour, so purchasing for presents is left for the final day and the small curio store on the airport. I significantly preferred the canoe fashions and the brightly painted picket macaws (for some purpose, these flat ones, to be mounted on a wall, have been solely bought in pairs).


Picture Manakin Nature Excursions

For being invited to the Escape to the Orinoco River Basin FAM journey, I wish to thank the organisers: Luis Eduardo Ureña of Manakin Nature Excursions, who masterfully saved every thing underneath management, day and evening, our native information Daniel Camilo, and the sponsors, ProColombia, Spirit Airways, Air Europa, Aerolinea SATENA and Bogota Hilton Backyard Inn.

Each time the group went for a hen stroll and I stayed behind attributable to utilizing crutches, I had one other information with me (which enabled me to identify 57% of all of the birds seen). A particular thanks goes to my information, at all times smiling or laughing Edson Moroni. Don’t all of us want quite a lot of laughs after two years of pandemic? If we’re laughing in Amazonia – even higher.

Half 1 of the tour, or a forest so younger that birds nonetheless haven’t any names
Half 2 of the tour, or river dolphins and hoatzins

Cowl picture: Cerros de Mavecure, by Manakin Nature Excursions


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