Armchair Travel with Naturetrek
Armchair Travel with Naturetrek

Episode 5 · 1 year ago

Colombia – Birds, Beers and Life in Lockdown, with Robin Smith


Tour Leader and ex-Naturetrek Tailormade Manager Robin Smith talks to Naturetrek's General Manager Andy Tucker, about birdwatching in Colombia and life in Colombian lockdown.

Welcome to another NATO trek, podcastwer bring wild life to you in your living room in this episode, Columbia,Birds, beers and life and lockdown with Robin Smith and Andycuker. Welcome to the latest Natura poecast, aanditake general manageer, an Atin trade. My Collegue CEERA has been doinga great job at these pocars so far, but I'm stepping in today and I'm delightedat my good friend, an ex colleague, Rob Smith, has drawing me on the line fromColumbia. Hih Rob good to see him. I you seee. This is said the SE, as Isaid, we're excolleague in Naturi, and now you handle someon natoes groundoperations in Columbia. We Ere colleague from about twenty twelve to Othosand ad. Seventeen E use, Natrix Tatemad Division, which I so frendlingand you em emigrated to Columbia, pick up a story. Yes, so I ma Acolombia Inclodur, my wife. Nowand U, after March deliberation, we decided that the we give Columbia crackand and comeover here and set UPA wildlike tourism operation. So we we head it over here in twenty.Seventeen and and we've been win be been going strongly since the untilrecent Ovenice, of course, yeah well before we get on to life in lovedownand some of Yo r local wildlife. Sigtings tell me a bit about how youslougterd to Colombian life 'cause, suddenly a lot of acklies in nate,Weill, think of Columbia and the thought the poof mind is not otdifficult times. If we've got ove the past thirty forty years and basicnoone's been now to visit until about five or ten years ago, Um. But a lot ofwork's been going on in Columbian the last fie that in used crains thatinternational reputation and indeed the invitation Openo, isn't it todraven around and see some on Columbus, wonderful bird life. And how do you seelike modern life in Columbia? Yeah mean it very much depends on whereyou are in the country, so Bota and Mediin. The two larges citiesin in in Colombia, a very much metropolitan m, sensos and and verysimilaro to for facing cities in the world, Gray,food and yeah very nice places to be as fire cities go. Of course, there are poor areas inBortar, especially the south is a Ppor area in the city and there's still m estil wouldhavetobe done to bring the GA Toso Marythega nd ofte, the Porsi of the country, but by and large, if you, if you, U E,compare a contrast, Columbia to the Times that you menito before,particularly in in the eighties nineties, and early early two,thousands things are it's a world. It's e world away fromthose times ND and living here is is- is fantastic and friendly peopleworcoming people and lots of opportunity, Um Bot, inter cities, down an ousid.Suddenly, when I was in Columbia, lasting twent, an fifteen was strunly.was that really warm welcome that you just mentioned together? Wein mast,tractive Abso, unbelievably Christine Habita? What role does carefully cottoisnplayin in m modern COLUMBITY, conomy deting? Well, it's it's vital. I think Columbiais a whole right from the Tal Down C Corson ass, abticly ECORTOURISM, budwatching tourism.

They see as a vital element to progressing columbious, Um Economy andAndi fortuneoous people. It's a fantastic way to to bring a livelihoordsecularly to those people that live in more remote areas of the country. Coobyis a huge country, roughly the CISIV, Germany and frace Lee combined. It's ahuge, huge country, so there's a mnny many people living outside outside the cities and without tourismthere are opportunities in many cases are quite limited, so bird watching hasbeen the sort of you know: The burds coms, some of the earliest tourists,where bird is looking to see all that speces sa were kind of Ophlimius backin the day and they're bringing toursn dollars inpounds to to these Topogo in I in the country Saser, which is fantastic andum aside from worldartorism there'SA. Also, a growing an and ROBUSTM SAI wishis more sortof focused on culture. Coffee Tourism is also very, verystrong here, of course, and the coffee taste excelet and s insensiveconsensive it really. It's really a vital part ofthe economy. There's absolutely no doubt about that and there' a lot ofinittis right from the top down trying to push tourism and push COLUMBI'sreritation fulward in terms of being a gozu place for the worlds porpulation. Certainly you and I will be united inwishing that international tourism wi back on theirgender as soon as possiblefor teir respective liveihoods and so many more people. He just me mentioningthere who depend on him just a word of lifing lock down inColumbia. I know you keep a very close n British musebut. Tell us and earlistens a bit about life in Columbia. How serieus Av you've been taken? Areyou allowd Owt, some of the local willise you've been enjoying? Yes, so Um Clun, you call things prettyearly because we had the the benefit seeing particularly sing. Things occurin Europe, a'm, really the I nineteen an crisis was was kind of petter on Um, relatively early here, so the lotdown Ithink was was enforced on around the Twentyeth of March and it was Stringen.Restrictions were put in place and it seems such a word bfor, the most par. They have quaughterearly dthris. The numbers death o Lo sloenless than a thousand as it standsat the moment. So Columbia is a whole Asfara lot better than many of herSouth American neighbors and Um. In terms of a long time we SBECOMN put inte place, I sa everyone has ninetot over here and and dpdepending onwhether you' re. The last number of your I D is a zero is an even numberanother number. That means you can go out at certain times, but you can onlygo on your own. You can go out to do certain things, so you can obviously goin Shor. You can go to the hospital. These kind of things Challe, a aseverywhere as as everywhere else is, is how do we? How do we come out of lookdown and howdo we start opening out the economy? Because, sadly, here there's not a sortof perhaps the warchester there might be another another? U More,economically aboss country. So for the for the folk tha thatparticularly those that are working on...

...a you know, the they're on the streetselling ambanalisal ther m they're, doing jobs that really a a handto mouth,those those people are really stroggling now so m. it's really vital that we get a Dgetthings back as as soon as possible in in a safe way. Wich is starting tohappen, also, they're staying to open up PATS IN POTA and Um. There is more activity out there. As far as we considerd we, we live JoOuside Loita and we're up in the hills, Um, so we'reabout, two thousand and sixhundred metres. We sort of live in a in a an area. That's predominantly farfarmland, actually so wewe ere fortunate INSO. Far As we havegreenspace outside and Um, I we can go out to and enjoy some birdlife on a day day basis. So we've we've had them ye e. We just we just kept Captain AandWal Birds, Hav been moving through the Sarlok down. We had all the MINRANScoming through, so we had blackbernyand, Walles and scarlet, anages and andothers coming through. They'd all passed through n now so the migrationfo astas. We were in lockon and and nowwe. We we just have the residencehere and there's lot of species tha assign Tinest, we gonesing Ram, billin,swallows and Um. We had some excitement a few days agowith a sorgo humming bird in the garden coming to insper some trumpet flowers,which was really nice as an nice one for the gardene. I won't be Gad in this, I'm just hoping for the enbeing condorto sort of flow over the garden ATS somepoint. But that's not happen. R,perhaps o Tsdipoity or something we'll see. YOUCTE CO would have thoughtdiften over Somesday yeah, there's a breathing pair, there'snot many about here in the EASTARN Ande, so Columbia, at least around thisarea.But there is a breeding car in CHNGA. So you never know. You never know thatTas Tust, Tem Chingas, a national parise, a couple of hours drive fromfrom Myu House, So v Been Nice. Maybe, on day I can tell you feature the pocasof service one for so far is the interviewing has had a Massi breakbookshelf behind and wraps up with natural history books at Soom to be Ted,a a Beso, the most impressiive Bookshar. I E Melis with you. So far, I'm gladyou havenint Ot me to shave me in that regard. Just tell me m from a British natispoint in Niew I mean you well you've done well in the UK. If you see fourhundred spieces here in t a livetarte of course, inclose many rare bavons m.How is it tuning into a country like Columbia, where you got well inexcessive thirtee number species? I should mind balbing from a Britishperspective, its not just the birds, of course e its Al Taxo, reptiles, yeah,clances, dismind, Boan, diges yeah. So I think Ondis Columbius, lesterm intenssiv recorded species, is around nineteen hundred and thusincreasing all the time that theyhad th they're, describing several new speciesand, of course, the ESA e Ees Tais tashos place and, of course, th e.There are plenty of planens place going on and an consideration all the time m itsanima YEA ITSIT's. U You know, I had some experience berding over in thenear tropes before I came out here. I'v been obviously been to Columbiabefore Um, Emperu and Equadoran places, but but I hadn't really ever traveled bur, with with a few wo actuallyshowing other people, Werk especies Ar Soitas very much just CCBIRD idber,whereas now leading tousn and Um...

...and being the person t the class erasking work Wuis AP is Preco Tro from the sarioweserve. My my aim was to jus slowly build upbuiltup. My knowledge of the Birds Overere and I started out with Um. IRIC is proaly. You can really plitseces down the middle h with Andian species and and more low than Speci Yosay you know that if youere wording in the Andes, then you know ths, there's nine hundred on species.Let's say that that you're not goin encounter, so you can. You can sort ofcompartmenttolietose and Um. It's also. We started out doing workpredominantly in the endig. So as a question of just getting integras withthe andian species and their calls and Um for for me, I always always always burdW H with t a local guide, a ing as vitely important for a number ofovreason. First, first and foremost, is I don't want to feel like I'm takingsomeone slowlyhood from them, and so we so when we have a gree, we ill lead. The group with a local gideand, as its team will, will obviously work through days birding, and thattakes the pressure of Bi as well, because they're generally speaking, Tha.You know these there's some fantastic local young, guys, upercoming burders,that we like to work with who have great ID skills and Um agreat ontheirvo CA, stationsn, and I think they thatbeen. One of the great things forme is th how ontal I'm learning from them, and hopefully they're learning alittle bit from me. So there's a bi of an inchange tevoo skill set and um a slowly so that he to to get togriwithWithandin, andtean, berding, Amazonin binings te whole like whole wholedifferent, catof fish, and that's that's so challenge to me. internies ofmy biding is to spend more time in Amizona and and I'm looking forward togetting to grice with the treasuret show Hor speches down varis fasfamazona in the in the east, the Silan firm, Ha Gon me Ater, a San, that's thefroncier for me rigdt stuff wel. When I ask you about that, I said clums gotwell over the thirteen number weeks. I did it as Uge this service. Of course,CAIONTI NOS BU, Willin exes of eighteen hundred clises, which makes it the mostbird wich country on earth. But no, why you've been in Columbia? Actually ontyou've been focuin. The birding and running burding ors you've made aspecial bline. If you like, for some of the INDEMIN mammals. Tell me a littleUS o be involved in pursuing some FCOLUMMIS and duing momens yeah. So Um there's a few D. I wasreally we we foundthat. U, you know ever everyone, well, noteveryone, but Columbias of alerting destination isvery much on them aut and it's an upncoming destination of still hugepotential there. From the burning side, I man, Colombias in general, is isconsidered the second most part ofverse country in the world. So so it's notjust about the birst there's lots of other wardlike here and we felt thatthere was anoptunity to to take to look for indenic mammals and rar mammals,and particularly, we stitefosing on primase. So we SA wrecking some really owpy thelocations that were in the sort of distribt distribution to certain sem Umprimings, so yeawwe sordid our research and tried tofigure out where those areas were and and studied. Um Started: two develops: Ome Tall, reasoccur, whocu,able people to see th te species of very few people in the world have everseen. So. To give a couple of examples,...

...we tareted a mie species of of monkey called aCACITATT which is a type of DT monkey down in the fat. Tautus oclemio isextremely endanger. Tis This m anywhere between two hundred and fifty. Perhapsfour hundred individuals remaining in the wall, so we really felt if in theseare areas, these really are sort of areas that really struggled in in youknow, if you look back to twenty thirty yearsago, these were desperate areas and UM and thatactually. DR N t e Thedepressure O on this a monkey, so we felt noonly. Is it very cool to go seethis this really rare monkey, but it's also re a great way to to get Hor tosome new ummunities that desperately need sort of in injection of of of anything really of F some sort ofeconomic, stimula and Um, and we just found it was really fantastic. Taking takingcliets down to these areas because Um, we were extremely welcomed people whenwe go every time we go back D. Ow people are happier and they theyrecognize us and Um. It's really. It's really been afantastic project, because we we feel that you know there's no rl, there's noreal losers in this. In this with thes thors and Um Yesit' EEN hisn, it's been good Funanand we've enjoyed Um we've enjoyed looking for monkeys. I should say mypartner Coa she's, her background is a summaribologist and she she's suddenlya Tinwell Sir for Eigh, eight or nine years in inCalifornia. So her background is mammas Poo, poor marine mammals. She likes tebet at she someo that really going so that was also and his senses to Forus.She was really cane to sefir rather than feathers. So that's that's the good of thebackaround there. I has been really really good fun when internetioal LDcravel opers other day s e'd be loving to hose some of our nature catin our Columbia in Demi mammels do which you operate and guide for us thatbe fantastic. Oneform ene at Madeleno Valley, Berdinso, an also our birs inhisboy tall sidely, different mender, an the valua traditional and a fastplace, daunto dust birdings Al and this peol, which he led for us in November.bliving other pace tat there isn't it was a nice beeding station and a bit ofColumbia's rich Coltr in history of well yeah. Absolutely the Bursonculture saw was the first, the first group Sal that we ran with naturetrayer and again. I think that was e pinar into because everyone was justfocused purely on Um tos, going out and seeing many many specieses his Um asthe cu which um you know for somef for to ready, Kingbirdis, that's fantastic,but theres. There's Hol e m a whole other group of people, thre wcoming over here and thinking. Well, this fantastic culture in Columbia aswell and Um. So we e, we had a Chil you and decidedToegr n Sut to put it together and mix locus for so we spent sime in Borkata and we bureoutside o Bogatar nd. Actually we do Bada birding inside. We also gon t seethe Goldn Musem, which is one of the largest collections of of gold anywherein the world. I saw these pre columbian fantastic cards. Flax we go to. TheBodero Museum which is Um Buttero is is, is columbiaus Um, most sort of famed artist. We spendtime there we go. We go an enjoy some...

...sort of cafficulture iprobablys, witPasit, a more fast paceed trading for when we spend time in the coffee regionagain burding and enjoying some gentle hikes in beautiful landscapes. So we sort of combined birding and justtaking things in it m. We also vote to some of the you know the popular spots,an the andis like Rio, Blanco and Um Tevido Goeries, where you can burn andat the end of the day, Sitin vermal hotspring bath, and we finished up in Cartaheno, whichis one of the you knowone of the M Welone of the most fascinated cities. Ithinkin all of the Americans, with a rish rich with a rede historyand iabset, beautiful coorful city, Lmacalin Valley, Chor, as you say, isvery, very different. We we really, we really nsfocused on on on a suiz of vindemeica name injmpeech Ce occur just in tha in the macaline valley, so to put that incontest an Ganbia thes three to three arms of theandis in in Columia y. They break at the South and hers Aniecean arm acentral arm and western Arma Wi, essentially birding between the easternand the central alms wot. The Andes and that'Sareas has ha a number of indenicspecies that Ar ony found in that valley and that's Andday, ten eleven eig- or I think, andwe do we do some extensions national extentions. An one of those excitingextensions next year is going to bemit, to which is one of these Amazonian Goldmire bird and gold wines, whichwere I think, four Qices went to last year, had a great time came back withan absolute person, inliste species, so y, very different to the the birds andculture tol Bu, birth, great fun as well, X and suffre rat M. I just lantedto afire a quick Um, serious of questions at you, which I think peoplemight Lon ot interest. was you next target in Columbia? What ayou got? An ICONIC SPEC BERDOR mammon in my haven't. Seen so far that youlove to see. I noiced it's in a Harp Eagle, soHarles hi on the list. Soen, a few lests of Harpis have been down there. TBu, benosome nesting size had been there the wrong time and we were Du togo and Tra see one about an how actually ithere's anesting, there'sanesting happy down in Yeh down in the south,and we were going to go reckua that area and so tha. That was a big. That'sa big one on the on the list and quite keen to try the there's. A species ofman, whe called a Pacarana which we, which I'm very keen to to have a trackout. It swell very loose to doesn't like people very much andthis, this stuff, like the Shugardog and Bushtal, with ghost in forest, so so that hdeduced abit of a dream: Almost a Paran, just hoin, the one one or drpast to you oneday, it's intresting with the shortte dogs in Arizonia. I think you and Ishared a facebo article on that recently, it ascall a ot of researchand radio cholerine, going on with Shorto Dog Sich, a Fascilat Er Al Ol,once in eastern Egwidor, just a a brief uin e fleeting one crossin trail Aam yeah. They are they see from theRESEARCHR the eyes. You know the painers are Ra. They seem to actuallybe quite localized in so far as they're, not they're, not like Bush soks they're,not like roaming all over aazona, which Bisho seem to be far more FORMERSORF.NAMERICAN AENEMS, which Filtin dolrs...

...just seem to be extremely wary of F ofany apeople they're alsefredated on by big BAMELS, jakes and thelcs, so thetthey're, quite Scuti. So don't know! If T ' that's one TI laby in the future.It may maybe like a Snowlik a DI. You know everyone Thaug, that it wasbasically impossible to see and maybe with with some careful Um, some carefulplanning and better understanding if other of their habits Weo, maybe maybe one day we'll see yenor good luck to that Wen yoeet. In twenty seventeen, I said you rob tem.Don't let us writstand with your language learning skills, 'cause, wee,boht, terrible reputated, and I was lucky enough to spend, as you know, Ntwo years in South American. I E, Spanish and Saiddo. Take advantage ofthis opportunity and for use have been there really out te speed. Have you beengetting on with the old language Gills? Yes, the Spanishs is much much betterthan when I Rie Iet, I coul. That's for sure M. I don't know. I think I think has been has been a challengebecause we' IFFACTV started. You know business in in a Spanish speakingcucountry and for the business sidest things you know. I can can't Alie H tosay that the Claet as really done the proet, the the conversational work,needs to be done with all kind of all manner of sort of differentorganizations here to get things going but like on a day to day level mySpanishes Isayiis, pretty okay, it's so it it's getting it's a lot better thanjust Um holdering, a beel ISO on the Sop of theberro. What Shoe Bae,Clumbian Dein? I just try to drink oi. It's like bt!Fine all over the country- and it's like a red one- griry Tibe ablondon and a black one, and they will brin it. You can just Mok at Hem,eerest pre stand it for me: Ninto Fancy, listen Sansa Madenge or you not seemdead on a Columbian Dalcewall Lafoe Club. No much o aanser have to get a few more fooes an and just. Lastly, what Di you most missabout you, gay. Apart from friends on family, I spent the last few years to M, obviously working working, extrakin very much ly ot living laying in in Hampshire. I saw it as a wonderfulplace, the walks and just getting gard to the new forest, a d and The coast. Iwas growing a miss a Roast Dinner Tat Ist brings friends and family into thean into the fray, but I love a roast iner, which um which somre crat we did.Y Christmas dinner whic won quite well for a few terwas, an Italian at a tablewho he seemed to enjoy the foodselfs quite happy about that Um. What else?Just a pine down the poor just to pint down the pub just the simple stuff,really the stuff that o misses right now in lowdown. I think you know, Ithink I think t this period of reflection. Is You knoeryone kind of aton to relly O wat is important in life and and itist the simple stuff? Really, I think yeah that's PTIN, fantestity catup. Iwish you in cloud all the very best I can't say to you when we'll beoperating tols again, thattheyve got various eyes on Ou, know: News, atlancsand traveled in the spee updays Mister Soo to bisies soon as possible. In themeantime, Tan aoselves, it's been Goang to catch up Thanka. Thank you very muchand is to great to catch up and or Mor... to to the team. An AC treck lookforward to tohopefully working again ND andgetting fock over here and rased yen yeah Itwou be good. When I had it choosice relto join US ONATO in Columbia. You can view outos on our website thelink to which is displayed on your screen now and to listen to moreporcast. Just go to a pot pastweb page thanks for listening.

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