An early start to the day will involve us being transferred to the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve, located just above Manizales (1hr 30mins). It will definitely be worth the early start, believe us! This drive from the hotel will take us to one of the world’s best birding sites – not only because of its size or wonderfully conserved Andean forests, 380 or so recorded species, but because for the past number of years, the reserve’s keeper has been feeding and coaxing some of the world’s most difficult bird genus to see – the Antpittas. These skulking birds that look like balls on two sticks are terrestrial forest birds, normally making good sightings a rarity. Thanks to the keeper’s (Carlos Mario) work, however, it’s possible to experience almost daily sightings of these wonderful and charismatic birds that will silently hop out of the undergrowth as soon as they hear his voice. During this morning we’ll be visiting the various Antpitta feeders and with a little patience we may be able to see the vulnerable and endemic Brown-banded Antpitta, Bi-coloured Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, the more common Chestnut-crowned Antpitta and less common Chestnut-naped Antpitta. In total there are 7 species of Antpitta found in the reserve, an astounding number and testament to what a special place this is.
After lunch at the reserve, where we’ll be able to sight many hummers and flower piercers at the feeders, you can either have the choice to relax at the lodge and look for crab foxes as they appear out of the forest or go for a bit more birding. Walk along the reserve’s roads looking for the large Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker and the pretty Cinnamon Flycatcher, sallying for insects above the road. Various species of the Tangara genus will be passing by in mixed flocks but special attention will be paid to the uncommon and local Red-Hooded Tanager, the lush Grass-green Tanager and emblematic Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher. We will also be on the lookout for the local and uncommon Scaly-naped Parrot and strikingly coloured Rusty-faced Parrot.
Following another successful action-packed birding day, we will be returning to the Hotel Termales El Ruiz for an afternoon and evening to be used at leisure, before dinner is provided for you at the hotel to re-fill your birding energy levels.
Overnight – Hotel Hacienda San Jose