Day 5 was the day I was most nervous about. The Buffy Helmetcrest is a Colombia endemic that lives at 13,000 feet (4000 meters) in the Los Nevados National Park near the active Nevado del Ruiz volcano. This is the volcano that erupted on November 13, 1985 causing a mud flow that killed 23,000 people. I didn't think the volcano was going to erupt again while I was there (the vulcanologists keep a very close eye on this one), but the fewer days I spend at that altitude the happier I am! So I really wanted to get good pictures of this hummer on this trip.
I needn't have worried. We parked the car and within minutes a Helmetcrest flew into the flowers right in front of us. I didn't even have the lenses on my cameras yet!
Over the next couple of hours we were able to get wonderful photos and video of a full-plumaged male Buffy Helmetcrest. We were even lucky with the weather, as it was a bright and sunny day (rare in these parts)!
William Orellana's fabulous video of the Buffy Helmetcrest Hummingbird
With that hummer under our belts, we drove to the Termales del Ruiz hotel for some "up close and personal" interactions with the hummingbirds in their gardens. The hummingbirds there are so used to humans hand feeding them that you can actually reach out and pet some of them them while they sit on the hanging feeders. Even the Studio City Gang won't let me do that!
The gardens are landscaped with nectar-rich plants, hummingbird feeders and a fruit feeder for the tanagers, toucans and parakeets.
The hotel is located at 11,500 feet (3500 meters) in a natural sanctuary within the Nevados National Park. It has a steaming, hot thermal pool sourced from water springs that come directly out of the ground and heated by the nearby volcanos.
There is a table by the feeders with a bottle of sugar water for people to refill their little hand-held button feeders. This enterprising little juvenile Rainbow-bearded Thornbill has learned that he can drink up the spillage!