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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Dairy visit and another farm

Our friend Jorge has been in the dairy business all his life.  He arranged a visit to one of “his” dairies, owned by Marcela Restrepo.  It’s a jersey cow dairy and we learned that jersey milk is in demand because its very rich in fat and protein.  The jersey cows are so beautiful, I can believe their milk is fabulous.  She has about 200 cows.  We saw the operation pretty much from one end to the other.  The cows have a nice area that they can mill about in until they’re milked.  They like to be milked because they get to eat high energy food and the pressure of the milk is relieved.  They crowd up against the gate to the milking machines until its their turn.

The bull that started this whole business sits sullenly outside, safely tied up and munching grass.  He is huge and black and doesn’t appear to like anybody.

Marcela’s husband owns a gravel/rock crusher business on the same property.  We saw heavy trucks coming and going most of the day.  Between them, they do very well.  What a fortunate experience for us to see both operations.  I was raised on a cotton and alfalfa farm in Arizona but my farming days are in the distant past.  It was fun to relive (somewhat) those early days way outside of town, driving tractors, chopping weeds and all the other farm tasks.  This dairy had all this as well of course.

I am organizing our pictures from the Chingaza National Park trip and will put some of those bird pictures up soon.  I have to say that in a large open area such as Chingaza, bird pictures are more difficulot.  You can’t creep up on the birds, they’re often backlit and at quite a distance.  Nevertheless, they sometimes come out for a look and that’s when you have to pounce.

We leave for the US tomorrow and will post when we get back and settled.  Please enjoy our dairy trip mixed in with some general Colombian sights and a few birds of course.

Marcela, Jorge and Mariajeresy cow-smallmilk collection-smallDSC_0059 yellow-backed orioleDSC_0043-1 unknown bird at little houseassault weapon-smalltaxi-smalllovely

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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

Farm Visit

The day before yesterday, we visited a dairy owned by a friend of Jorge and Maria.  More about that in another post.  Yesterday we drove to the farm that’s owned by the Martinez family and spent the night.  We had an enjoyable couple of hours driving to the southeast of Bogota, over the mountains and through some small towns.  We always checked for birds along the way.  The farm is a lovely rustic place that they have remodeled.  They recently had a party there for 42 people!  It has eight bedrooms and I think about 20 beds/bunk-beds.

Because the farm has lots of trees and flowers and is located near a river, we checked for birds all the time.   This is not a travelogue so I won’t go through our day-by-day events but I’ll post some pictures and you can fill in the blanks.  We’re still in the process of identifying birds from our photos and our memories.  Without an expert birder, we have to examine sometimes fuzzy pictures and study the bird book carefully.  Tomorrow however, we are going on our first professionally-guided bird adventure to Chingaza National Park, being picked up at 5:30 am.  Worth every minute.  In a few days, I’ll give you a rundown and hopefully some pictures.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

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Trip to Jardin Encantado

My wife and I went with friends Jorge and Maria to Jardin Encantado where a woman has a wonderful hummingbird feeder array.  Yes, I know that many of these birds are not easily seen except at a gathering place such as this.  Nevertheless, we drove a couple of hours and down some broken roads (and up some others) to find this pearl.  She has about 30 feeders and dozens of hummingbirds constantly fly and whiz and whirl around, often within inches of our face.  A clever little bird, the bananaquit, thinks its a hummingbird and a bunch of them collect around the feeders.  We haven’t yet matched up all of our bird pictures with the names of the birds but I’m posting a couple anyway, with an update later.

Tomorrow we are going to a farm and check out how they work with cows.  Perhaps a few pictures of cows but there will be birdies there as well.

DSC_0163 white-bellied woodstarDSC_0047DSC_0234DSC_0042

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

Going to Jardines Encantados

We’re up early today and driving to Jardines Encantados (Enchanted Gardens) where there are a lot of hummingbirds.  We’re hoping to capture some of these lovely creatures if we can get the right settings.  It’s about 2 hours away.  

Last night we went to Andres Carne de Res and had a wonderful dinner.  Its only a couple of blocks from the apartment.  Four floors of restaurant!  With lots of music and frivolity going on around us.  

Right now………small breakfast and wheels up!

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

Post from Bogota

We arrived late last night/early this morning.  Friends Jorge and Maria picked up up and drove us to their apartment.  Noticed that the little yellow taxicabs were apparently from China and are called “atos.”  Is this a transliteration of the Spanish word “autos?”  Or since the Spanish word for “cough” is “toz”, is the little car called a “cough?”

First bird in Colombia was the rufous-collared sparrow, sitting on the balcony.  We had seen this little guy in Peru and Costa Rica but he was welcome.  Next bird was yellow-legged thrush.  This ID is not 100% because there is another thrush (glossy back) that looks a lot like this one.  I’m pretty sure I have him, though.  We also saw a little dove in a park and I think it’s a plain-breasted dove but I’ll have to check on him a little more as well.

Check out my photo of the thush if I can get it inserted:

yellow-legged thrush

yellow-legged thrush

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

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Aside

Our trip is getting very close.  Even for experienced travelers, the packing and checklist checking process can seem overwhelming.  Do I need this sweater?  How many of these should I take?  We’ve double-checked a lot of things.  This may seem boring but it’s exciting.  I’ve cleared a few photos out of our photo album so we can add a few from Colombia.

We heard that there was a little snow in the Bogota area a couple of days ago.  Don’t do that to us!  Of course, we all know that the worst weather makes the best photographs.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Bird Lover

 

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Getting Organized for Colombia Trip

Arlyne and I are just now putting our “kit” in order for traveling to Colombia.  It’s difficult to pack for a two week trip when we have camera gear, binoculars, laptop, nook, etc.  My feet are so big that packing my boots (for birding), some dress shoes (for the odd night out) and tennis shoes for lounging around will take up nearly a medium-sized suitcase.  We plan to carry most of our photo gear with us on the plane to avoid tempting anyone.  I say this because I lost an entire vacation’s worth of video once at an airport when I wasn’t paying attention and the camera walked (or probably ran) off.  We each have Nikon D200’s and Tamron 200-500 zoom lenses.  In addition, we are carrying a Nikon 70-300mm VR-ED, a Nikkor 28-105 mm, a Nikkor 18-70 mm, a Tamron 90mm Macro and one doubler between us.  We have five batteries, two chargers, miscellaneous filters, a tiny tripod, binoculars and 25 GB of digital memory.  A far cry from the days of 36 shots in a roll.  This will give us about 1500 pictures in RAW mode (our preference) or nearly 4200 JPEG pictures.  If we get desperate, we go to normal mode for over 8000 pictures.  Our trusty laptop goes with us as well and we can download pictures every evening as needed.  

I remember building a darkroom in my garage years ago.  I did strictly black and white and had a lot of fun.  When I was just getting started I asked a friend for advice and he told me “The first thing you need to buy is a huge wastebasket.”  That advice holds true today because we DELETE things so quickly and in such huge quantities.  

I still cling to the behavior of “cropping” my pictures as I take them, forgetting that I have enough digits that I don’t have to.  I’ll eventually get over that.  Another photographer once showed me his 31 megapixel Hasselblad and told me “I don’t need a telephoto lens.”  He just zoomed in on the computer.  

We’re hoping to upload updates and pictures to this blog while we’re in Colombia.  I’m looking forward to that.  I send a journal every few weeks to people I know and will eventually transplant the journal to this page.  It wasn’t that long ago when we used to send airmail on flimsy paper to our friends that lived out of the country or even the next state over.  Now I send my journal to Colombia, Canada, New Zealand and Australia without a care in the world.  I hope this blog goes as far one day.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Bird Lover