|View of SFF Iguaque in the mountains and the back of Rogitama on the extreme left|
The reserve is at 2500m above sea level in the green valleys in the north of Boyacá. Roberto Chavarro and his family have been working since 1982 on the reforestation and restoration of a former cattle farm which had become eroded. Trees were planted to stabilize and protect the water sources. Hedges were established to increase habitat connectivity. They are improving the fertility and health of the soils using composting and worm farming.
As a result of this hard work there is now much more healthy undergrowth with moss, lichens and epiphytes in the trees which all store moisture and release it slowly which helps keep the streams running steadily. This means less erosive flash floods and fewer periods with a lack of water. Many species of insects are recolonizing the reserve.
They have also planted many flowering plants and bushes on the reserve which attract 19 different species of hummingbirds as well as flowerpiercers and other birds. Although it can get very cold at night, it is seldom below freezing and there are flowers year-round. With so much natural nectar, there is no need for artificial feeders.
It is possible to see other harder to find species including Golden-bellied Starfrontlet (Coeligena bonapartei), Mountain Velvetbreast (Lafresnaya lafresnayi) and Short-tailed Emerald (Chlorostilbon poortmani). You can get great opportunities as well to photograph commoner higher-altitude species like this Speckled Hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys) which sat just feet away.
Initially it was thought they might be Bogotá Sunangel (Heliangelus zusii) an enigmatic species only known from a 1909 skin marked "Bogotá" and never seen since. The rediscovery of this species would be sensational. Later, some theories emerged that this "Rogitama Sunangel" was a new species, a hybrid, or possibly a new sub-species or colour morph of the Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingi). DNA testing would resolve the debate. Feather samples were taken and sent to the University of the Andes in Bogotá to be tested. However, since then, no results have been released, so the mystery continues!
|A Long-tailed Sylph from Santander. They like blackberry bushes!|
If you want to see hummingbirds in their more natural environment rather than at feeders, this is a great place to come.