Friday, March 19, 2010

Waiting for those elusive white birds in Villeta, Colombia

Last year our extended family spent a weekend in Villeta, a town not far from Colombia' s capital city of Bogotá, a favorite resort spot along with Melgar and Girardot because of its warmer climate. During the weekend, I became fascinated with the flora and fauna of the area, and it seemed that there was a surprise at every turn: a flower here, an interesting insect there, a tree with unusual seeds or another plant growing on one of its branches, and birds of all sizes and shapes.

Colombia is supposed to have more species of birds than any other country in the world. In the lower elevations where the climate is warmer, the way that the birds seem to fly in carefree fashion gives the impression that they are in their own version of paradise, where it never gets cold and there appears to be more than enough for them to eat. (Of course, drought can be a problem at times.)

There were birds that were easy to observe, such as these swallows who had made a nest in the house we were staying in. Other birds were content to find food or water near the swimming pool. Another bird allowed itself to be photographed in dramatic fashion against the mountain backdrop.

Sunset in particular is a great time to observe birds. There are plenty of them flying around, either by themselves or in flocks, and one need do no more than to sit out on the patio and watch. During our weekend, my sister-in-law called my attention to one type of bird that I had seen on many occasions but never thought about consciously. She said that every evening, a flock of large white birds would fly across the sky in full view, with the mountains in the background, but you would see them only once each evening. Once, while I was looking at pictures stored on my digital camera, she said, "Look! There they are!" and of course, by the time I looked up to see, they were already gone. This last picture represents my attempt to capture the sky at sunset, in the direction they were flying. One day maybe, when I'm ready, I'll be able to capture their flight in a picture or a video clip!