We landed in Cartagena Sunday morning and are completely smitten with the old city. For us, it has the charm and history of Trinidad (Cuba) and Granada (Nicaragua) with a great mix of music, culture, good food, and it is simply as picturesque as could be.
We have enjoyed a couple days just strolling around town, taking in the sights and the like, managing to find a few birds around the town squares. We found Cattle Tyrant, Eared Dove, Yellow-headed Caracara, and Brown-throated Parakeet in the old quarter, and Gray Kingbirds and Saffron Finches are apparently about as well but we haven’t noticed them there yet.
We still quickly started to feel the itch to go looking for some birds, so on our walk to the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (the large fort overlooking the old city, the tunnel system is really cool!), we birded a patch of mangroves and scrub in town and turned up a few cool birds – Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Saffron Finch, Green Kingfisher, Lesser Kiskadee, Pearl Kite (in town in an abandoned lot!), and a good assortment of wading birds including the locally uncommon Great Blue Heron and Green Heron. Our complete eBird list, as well as the location of this site, is here. If you are staying in Getsemani or the old quarter and want to kill an hour or two birding you could do a lot worse, just look for the footpath that goes behind the tennis courts, and it’s only a short block from the entrance to the Castillo, the combo of the two made a nice morning for us.
While we are waiting for our van we are a bit limited in where we can go but we made the outing to the local Botanic Gardens, the Jardin Botanico Guillermo Piñeres. (Two busses necessary with a change on the outskirts of Cartagena, or a cab would be easier, but not necessarily a lot faster, due to traffic). The garden is on the closer side of Turbaco, so not too far away, and is open from 8-4. We didn’t get the earliest start, but despite not getting to the gardens until 10:30 we found some really good stuff. The bus will drop you off along the main road to Turbaco and the 1.5k walk on a flat dirt road goes through a mix of arid open country with sparse trees and gardens and yards.
A fruiting tree along the road turned up a good mix of boreal migrants including Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, and Summer Tanager as well as our first of many Stripe-backed Wrens, Bicolored Wrens and Trinidad Euphonias. A bit further along the road we found our first Russet-throated Puffbirds in the open countryside. The garden itself was quite birdy, we spent a couple hours birding with a lunch break and our highlights included Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Black-crested Antshrike, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (very local and uncommon in Colombia) among more common species such as Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher, Lance-tailed Manakin, Gray Kingbird, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, more Stripe-backed and Bicolored Wrens, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and quite a few more. Our complete eBird list is here.
Sorry we don’t have any bird photos, we shipped the camera along with the van so we’ll be without it for a week or so yet. We are off to Isla de Salamanca next to look for Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird among others!