Tuesday 25 August 2015

February 22, 2015 - final morning at Cayo Santa Maria

February 10-11, 2015 - Viñales Valley
February 10-11, 2015 - hotel birding in the Viñales Valley
February 12, 2015 - Parque Nacional La Guira and Soroa
February 13, 2015 - Reserva Sierra del Rosaria, town of Las Terrazas
February 14, 2015 - Soroa to Zapata
February 15, 2015 - Zapata Swamp
February 16 and 17, 2015 - Trinidad and Ancon Peninsula
February 18, 2015 - the Escambray Mountains
February 19 and 20, 2015 - Hanabanilla Reservoir, Cayo Santa Maria
February 21, 2015 - Cayo Santa Maria
February 22, 2015 - Cayo Santa Maria

The following morning I led a final pre-breakfast hike before we began our journey back to Havana. The remaining day and a half were spent in Havana and featured mostly on cultural things, so I'll end the trip report after this post.

View of part of Havana from a high rise building

Western Spindalis, formerly known as the Stripe-headed Tanager, is a common species found throughout Cuba, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands and the island of Cozumel, Mexico. It occasionally shows up as a vagrant in southern Florida as well. I've featured the males before in earlier posts from this trip but this was my first time photographing a female. The trees surrounding our resort constantly had Western Spindalis(es?) feeding on a sort of fruit, though photography was more difficult than expected due to their propensity for having several small twigs getting in the way, preventing a clean photo.

female Western Spindalis

Of course I had to photograph a few of the males - an absolutely stunning bird in my mind.

male Western Spindalis

male Western Spindalis

Eurasian Collared-Doves have really taken over in urban areas not only in Cuba but throughout much of the world. Looking at the eBird sighting map they have yet to spread extensively in South America and Africa, while Australasia and southeast Asia also remains untouched. One feels that is just a matter of time though...

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Warblers were quite common right in the resort complex, presumably due to the large number of mature, fruiting and flowering trees that attracted many insects. Comparatively, the dry scrub that makes up the rest of the island is more of a hostile environment. Each morning we encountered about a dozen species while only walking a few dozen meters! Cape May Warblers were surprisingly abundant, while American Redstart, Northern Parula and Prairie Warblers were also accounted for in decent numbers. This sharp male Prairie Warbler was too sexy not to photograph, especially as it set at eye level for a minute or so.

Prairie Warbler

The trip was certainly a success and we managed to enjoy a wide variety of Cuba`s flora and fauna. As it was not a dedicated birding tour we missed several of the endemics, but on my next trip to Cuba I have set aside several days once the tour concludes to rent a vehicle and clean up the remaining endemics. The following are the endemic bird species of Cuba according to the most recent Clements checklist. Bold letters represent species we observed during this tour.

Gundlach's Hawk
Cuban Black Hawk
Zapata Rail
Blue-headed Quail-Dove
Gray-fronted Quail-Dove
Bare-legged Owl
Cuban Pygmy-Owl
Bee Hummingbird
Cuban Trogon
Cuban Tody
Cuban Green Woodpecker
Fernandina's Flicker
Cuban Parakeet
Giant Kingbird
Cuban Vireo
Cuban Martin (migrates to South America during winter, though wintering grounds are unknown) 
Zapata Wren
Cuban Gnatcatcher
Cuban Solitaire
Yellow-headed Warbler
Oriente Warbler
Cuban Grassquit (also introduced to Bahamas)
Zapata Sparrow
Red-shouldered Blackbird
Cuban Blackbird
Cuban Oriole

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