The RNA reseve at El Paujil is set in lowland secondary forest. It owes a lot of its protection in former years as it was one of Pablo Escobar's drug factories and jungle hideouts. It now offers basic accommodation for naturalists and is famed for the range restricted Blue-billed Curassow.
We woke to a wet morning, having rained virtually all night - a wet day beckoned. After breakfast a walk around the grounds produced Chestnut-backed Antbird; Buff-rumped Warblers; Lineated Woodpecker and, suddenly (if something that big can just suddenly appear) a female Blue-billed Curassow. What a bird!
Taking the main access road we set off, and were soon stopping to try to connect with a Northern Waterthrush and Two Grey-necked Wood Rails. Next up was a Bare-crowned Antbird. Peter and Phil were quickly onto the bird but Martin struggled. A brief hiatus occurred when a Little Tinamou decided to brazenly walk across the path, quite unconcerned by our presence less than 20m away. Martin eventually managed to get onto the blue-skinned half bald head of the Antbird. We carried on to the watch tower/hummingbird feeders were we sheltered from the rain for a an hour or so, picking up new birds. Colombian Chachalaca; Red-rumped Woodpecker; Grey-rumped; Band-rumped Short-tailed and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts; distant Chestnut-mandibled and Citron-throated Toucans and Blue and Yellow Macaws; Yellow-backed Tanagers, Blue-chested Humingbird; and others. Distant Red Howler Monkeys were scoped but they remaining resolutely silent. A showy flycatcher proved difficult to get a positive id on, the final concensus was a Great Crested Flycatcher.
After the rain stopped we carried on along the walk for a further couple of hundered meters before following a trail leading off into the forest. Just inside the forest a Black-billed Flycatcher was eventually well seen by all. As is typical of forest birding there were long periods of little action, followed by pockets of great activity. Plain-brown and Wedge-billed Woodreepers, Plain Xenops and Slaty-winged Foliage Gleaners were located but Rufous Motmot remained a heard only. Two Swallow-tailed Kites circled over the forest, giving tantalising glimpses through the canopy.
On the way back for lunch a Russet-winged Schiffornis called. A bit of play back saw it shoot past us. A minute or so later, back it came, this time directly toward Martin before swerving and passing him less than 1m away. This led to much soul searching as to whether it could be ticked or not. Whilst its very much a personal choice, some species just don't give themselves up. Whilst we all want good views of any new bird, sometimes we need to make do with the most fleeting of views and as long as you can get enough to be confident that it is the bird you hope/think it is then that may be sufficient. I the end, I don't think any of us felt confident enough to tick the Schiffornis based on the fleeting views obtained, even if Martin saw it for longer than he did the Bogota Rail.
Heavy rain kept birdlife subdued during the afternoon session with little new found, the highlight being a close Panama Flycatcher. Returning to the accomodation, just as the rain eased off, we caught up with the male Blue-billed Curassow.