<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Avian Adventures Tour reports
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Spanish tour
Cuba tour report, 22nd December 2004 to 5th January 2005

Day 1: Wednesday, 22nd December

Despite a slightly late departure from Heathrow, our British Midland flight arrived in Madrid more or less on time and there was no problem connecting with the Air Europa flight to Havana. 

In Havana, we were quickly through immigration and then, whilst waiting for our baggage, took time to change our money into Cuban Convertible Pesos.  Santos and Pedro, our guide and driver for the duration of the tour were waiting for us in the arrivals hall.  As it was already dark, there wasn’t much chance for any sightseeing, but we assured the group that they would have the opportunity to see Havana on our return to the city at the end of the tour.  We were soon at our hotel, situated in old Havana, where we met up with those of our group who had travelled out earlier.  After a light supper we retired for a welcome night’s sleep.

Photo: "Che Guevara" - Peter Dedicoat

Che Guevara

Day 2: Thursday, 23rd December

Breakfast was taken early and we were soon leaving the bustle of Havana on our way to Santiago de los Baños in the western province of Pinar del Rio.  There was little traffic and stopping on the side of the road for birding wasn’t a problem.  An early stop was by a small reservoir where a Great Lizard Cuckoo was one of the first birds seen.  As we watched it, Smooth-billed Anis squabbled noisily in nearby bushes and two Common Ground Doves flew by.  A little further along the road we stopped again, this time alongside flooded rice fields where there quite a number of birds.  As we checked them out, we noted Great, Snowy, and Cattle Egrets plus Tricoloured, Little Blue and Green Herons.  A Belted Kingfisher was perched on a power line and a Snail Kite flew into view and landed on a fence post, giving us wonderful views.  We drove on noting large numbers of soaring Turkey Vultures - a common sight for the rest of the tour.

We arrived a little earlier than expected at our hotel in Santiago de Los Baños, so whilst waiting for our rooms to be ready we spent time birding from the car park which overlooks the spa and an area of woodland.  Red-legged Honeycreeper and Greater Antillean Orioles were busy feeding and we had our first views here of a Cuban Emerald. 

After a delicious lunch, we headed for Parque La Güira accompanied by local guide, César.  We walked a trail through pine forest and very soon found our first target species, Olive-capped Warbler.  We walked further up the hill and spotted two species of woodpecker, West Indian and the endemic Cuban Green, both feeding on palm fruits.  A Cuban Trogon called helping us to find it sitting in a nearby tree and a Red-legged Thrush, a species we were to see on most days, foraged amongst the leaf litter.  The clouds had started to gather and rain threatened so we walked the lower trail and returned to the bus.  We arrived back at the hotel in a heavy downpour.

Day 3: Friday, 24th December

We awoke early and left the hotel before it was light, heading again for Parque La Güira. It was still dark when we arrived and the trees were obscured by mist.  We parked by a cluster of cabins and waited for visibility to improve.  A Barn Owl flew silently by and as the dawn broke the forest gradually began to come to life.  In a nearby tree, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker began hammering the trunk searching for food, soon to be joined by a second bird.  A La Sagra’s Flycatcher started its quest for food and two White-crowned Pigeons landed noisily in a tree further along the trail. 

As the light improved, we started our walk and soon we could hear our main target species, Cuban Solitaire, calling a little way off.  However, there were other birds to see first.  A Broad-winged Hawk sat on a branch over-hanging the path, a Louisiana Waterthrush made it’s jerky way along the muddy bank of a stream and an Ovenbird gave close views.  There were plenty of warblers around including American Redstarts and Northern Parulas, both species that were to become very familiar over the next two weeks.  A Cuban Tody first called and then was seen as it bobbed around in the trees, showing its red throat, white front and pink edge to its otherwise vivid green wings. 

The path now turned uphill towards a large cave, the Cueva de Los Portales.  It was here, during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, that ‘Che’ Guevara transferred the headquarters of his Western Army, but it is now known as one of the best places to find Cuban Solitaire.  The trees seemed to be alive with birds, which on closer inspection, were Grey Catbirds and Red-legged Thrushes.  At least one Solitaire was still calling and it’s strange almost two-toned call echoed around the cave making it difficult to pinpoint its position.  Eventually it was spotted quite close to us and most of the group managed good looks at what is unfortunately, a rather unspectacular bird.

After an enjoyable and very welcome late breakfast back at the hotel we settled down for quite a long drive to Playa Larga, which was to be our base for the following four days.  We arrived in the Zapata area at lunchtime and enjoyed a meal at La Bocca before heading for the National Parks office to meet with our guide, Esdrey. 

Across the road from here is a path through the trees, leading to a swamp.  In the past this has been a good place to see Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird, but unfortunately not today.  We did find one hummingbird, a Cuban Emerald, and a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, but there were also quite a few mosquitoes and before too long we decided to try our luck elsewhere.  In fact it was time anyway to check in at our hotel at Playa Larga, only a short distance away.  Later, having settled into our rooms and freshened up, we explored the extensive hotel grounds where Cuban Crow and White Ibis were amongst the species noted.

Day 4: Saturday 25th December

Christmas Day started with breakfast at 7.00am after which, just as it was getting light, we departed with Esdrey for the Parque Bermejas, just to the south of Playa Larga.  We spent the morning here in the company of another local guide, Orlando, walking some of the many trails that criss-cross this mainly forested area.  Cuban Pygmy Owls could be heard calling and we were able to see one of them at very close quarters.  Then Orlando led us to a still standing, but rotted palm stump and we were instructed to watch the top of it as he began to gently scratch the trunk.  Almost immediately a Cuban Screech Owl climbed out of the hole and peered around before flying off.  A second bird appeared and then dropped back into the trunk; then it too climbed to the edge of the hole, looked around and flew off.  To our delight a third bird then popped up and just sat there allowing the entire group to see it well.

As we walked we could here the to-co-lo calls of Cuban Trogons.  When we at last caught sight of one, it became apparent to all why they were chosen as Cuba’s national bird.  The Trogons’ predominant plumage colours are red, white and blue as in the Cuban flag, but on closer inspection, as the light catches the feathers, an iridescent dark green is revealed on its back, whilst the eye and lower mandible show red - a very handsome bird indeed.

A Fernandina’s Flicker led us a merry chase, but we were at last rewarded with views of two birds as they fed, tapping the bark off the trees in their search for grubs.  Warblers were again very much in evidence with ten species being noted including Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, American Redstart and a stunning bright Prairie Warbler.  Cuban Pewees, identified by the white crescent behind the eye, flitted across the paths, busy flycatching and now and then a La Sagra’s Flycatcher was seen.

We soon became familiar with the strange and distinctive call of the Great Lizard Cuckoo and the colourful and feisty little Cuban Tody also quickly became a favourite with the group, its chattering note making it easy to locate.

On returning to the bus it was decided that we should walk a little further as we were close to a good site for Bee Hummingbirds.  Crossing the road we walked a little way along a dusty track and came to a small flowering hedge where amazingly, there was indeed a very confiding female Bee Hummingbird.  We watched it for quite a time as it fed and marvelled as passing butterflies sometimes dwarfed it.

We returned to Playa Larga for lunch and a rest before going out again at 4.00pm.  The predominant birds seen in the afternoon were the increasingly familiar Cuban Emeralds, Cuban Pewees and Northern Parulas.  We finished our birding along a track that led off the road opposite the gates to Villa Playa Larga to a small settlement.  Here a break in a waste water pipe serving the houses had created a small lush area that was attractive to insects.  These in turn were drawing small birds looking for a tasty meal.  A male Black-throated Blue Warbler and a La Sagra’s Flycatcher showed well and American Redstarts and Palm Warblers were both very confiding and allowed some of the group to practice their digiscoping skills. 

Eventually our target species noisily announced their arrival - a small flock of Cuban Parrots landed in a nearby fruiting tree and we watched them for some time before they finally settled down to roost for the night.  As the light was fading we headed back across the road for a very welcome shower, drink and dinner – perhaps not in that order.

Photo: Cuban Parrot - Peter Dedicoat

Cuban Parrot

Day 5: Sunday, 26th December

After our, by now usual, early breakfast we were on the road by 7.30am, heading for Rio Hatiquinaco, situated some 80 kilometres from Play Larga.  Here we our target was Zapata Wren and with a little effort all of us managed to see this secretive and fast moving little bird.  A little further on, along the same track a Louisiana Waterthrush was seen foraging along the edge of the ditch.  Further on both a Yellow-headed Warbler and a Common Yellowthroat gave good views and the first Moorhens of the tour were seen here.

As the weather warmed up we headed back to the hotel for an early lunch.  Afterwards some of the group went for a swim in the sea while others went for a walk around the hotel grounds.  A group of squabbling Smooth-billed Anis attracted attention, Palm Warblers, easily identified by their tail wagging, and Northern Mockingbirds seemed to be everywhere and a large flock of Tawny–shouldered Blackbirds moved noisily around the grounds.  Two Cuban Crows also drew attention to themselves with their raucous calls.

Our late afternoon birding session was devoted to a visit to the salinas where we enjoyed an excellent selection of waterbirds.  We stopped several times along a track that had water on both sides and species of note were – Common Black-Hawk, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Limpkin, Ruddy Turnstone, Short-billed Dowitcher, Gull-billed Tern, Roseate Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis and Caribbean Flamingo.  The Flamingos in particular were stunning with colours ranging from white, through various pinks to vermilion.  Still regarded as a race of Greater Flamingo by the American Ornithologists’ Union, these birds are now treated by some authorities as a separate species, Phoenicopterus ruber.  It was hard to drag ourselves away and we found ourselves travelling back to the hotel in the dark, rather later than planned. 

Photo: Caribbean Flamingo - Peter Dedicoat

Caribbean Flamingo

After dinner we had a walk in the grounds listening for owls and looking for Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and did find one of the latter, which gave a croaking call as it flew off.

Day 6: Monday, 27th December

As usual we were out at 7.30am after breakfast, this time to Bermejas again, primarily to look for Quail-Doves which had so far eluded us.  Our first stop, however, was just outside the park to look for Cuban Parakeets, but we saw only Tawny-shouldered Blackbirds and two Cuban Parrots. 

As we entered the park a small mixed flock of warblers was spotted and we stopped to check it out.  Black-throated Green, Northern Parulas, and a Blue–grey Gnatcatcher were birds of note.  Next a pair of Fernandina’s Flickers flew in and proceeded to hammer the tree trunks searching for a meal.  Moving on we started to search for Quail-Doves and after walking several tracks we did manage just a quick glimpse of a Grey-headed Quail-Dove.  A Cuban Green Woodpecker diverted our attention for a short time, but we were soon looking down to the ground again and an Ovenbird was noted on the track in front of us. 

We stopped by a small waterhole that was attracting a lot of bird activity.  As we watched, Grey Catbirds, Black-and-white and Yellow-throated Warblers, Red-legged Thrushes, Northern Parulas, Common Ground-Doves, Mourning Doves and a Wood Thrush all came to the water for a drink.  There was a moment of excitement as an American Kestrel chased a small bird through the clearing, missing its quarry as it disappeared into the undergrowth. 

Shortly after moving on we were treated to very good looks at a Grey-headed Quail-Dove as it foraged on a grassy sidetrack.  A Bee Hummingbird was seen feeding on a flowering tree in a thicket and as we headed back to the bus we again saw a small flock of warblers made up of all the usual species.

After lunch some of the group went swimming whilst others walked the grounds seeing only Cattle Egrets and Cuban Crows.  Later, after a short shower of rain, we left for La Turba, a wetland where we had a slow walk along the track, looking and listening in vain for Zapata Sparrows.  We did find Tree Swallows, Northern Harrier, Blue-winged Teal, Red-tailed Hawk and Wilson’s Snipe and had quite an enjoyable afternoon.  On the way back we stopped at La Bocca and saw Louisiana Waterthrush, Cuban Parrot, Northern Jacana, Purple Gallinule and Cuban Crow.  As it was now getting dark, we decided to try for night birds and so parked on a nearby dirt track.  As the light faded a Greater Antillean (Cuban?) Nightjar appeared and perched obligingly on a fence post for all to see.  However, the biting bugs soon got unbearable and so we moved on to CITMA, a government installation situated on the main road back to Playa Larga.  Here we watched as a Cuban Screech Owl devoured a huge moth.  Satisfied we headed back to the hotel for dinner.  A walk around the grounds after dinner only produced Killdeers and another Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Day 7: Tuesday, 28th December

Today we were moving on to Camagüey and so after breakfast checked out of the hotel. On leaving the Villa Playa Larga we headed for our first birding of the day – a return visit to La Turba.  Again we walked the track listening as we walked for the song of the Zapata Sparrow- our target species.  We climbed a small bank for a better view of the swamp and saw a small flock of Blue-winged Teal fly in.  As we watched them we noted several Wilson’s Snipe and a Least Sandpiper and both Green Herons and Little Blue Herons were observed, the latter as they squabbled noisily.  Another species of note was a Snail Kite, complete with large snail. 

We walked on along the track into a wetter area of reeds and long grass and suddenly, just as some of us were perhaps giving up hope, there it was - a Zapata Sparrow!  It sat up nicely, showing itself off and we got really good looks.  After a short while it disappeared into the reeds, but as we turned to re-trace our steps it popped up just in front of us at about eye level allowing several of the group to capture it on camera.  On the walk back to the bus a Bee Hummingbird was seen by some of the group.

Photo: Zapata Sparrow - Peter Dedicoat

Zapata Sparrow

We returned to Villa Playa Larga for an early lunch and then, after saying goodbye to Esdrey, set off on the long journey to Camagüey.  There was little opportunity for birding on the way, a Broad-winged Hawk being the only bird of any note.

It was getting dark as we arrived at our hotel so after a welcome Cuba Libre from the hotel staff we checked into our rooms and looked forward to a shower and dinner.

Day 8: Wednesday, 29th December

As usual we left at 7.30am, this time heading for Najasa, about 45 minutes away.  Here we visited La Belén - a protected area with a great diversity of vegetation types that supports a wealth of birds.  There are several trails running through the reserve and we spent the morning birding here in the company of a local guide.  Loggerhead Kingbirds were common and we also had a distant view of a Giant Kingbird, one of the area’s specialities.  Later there were good views of Cuban Parrots, Cuban Parakeets, American Kestrels and a pair of Northern Flickers and it was a wonderful area for butterflies.  The American Kestrels included both the white-fronted and the rufous-fronted morphs of the Cuban race as well as wintering birds from North America distinguished by their streaked underparts.  A small lake held both Pied-billed and Least Grebes, American Coot, Black-crowned Night-Heron and Belted Kingfisher and several antelopes (introduced for sport) were also seen.  Warblers seen included Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, American Redstart and Northern Parulas.  Several Killdeers were foraging in the horse paddock close to where our bus was parked.  Lunch was eaten sitting by the pool at the ranch house. 

After lunch we left La Belén and travelled a short way to the home of Pedro and Bertha Regalado.  Pedro was to be our guide for the rest of our time in the Najasa area and he wasted no time in taking us off to look in particular for Palm Crows.  This species is best separated from the more common and widespread Cuban Crow by its calls and it wasn’t very long before Pedro identified the distinctive sound and found several birds for us to see.  The fact that Cuban Crows very rarely settle on the ground and Palm Crows do is another clue to identification, but the truth is that both species are just large black corvids like so many others!   

Other species found while we were walking the local farm tracks with Pedro included Yellow-faced Grassquit, White–winged Dove and Northern Bobwhite.  An Osprey flew over carrying a fish and landed high in a nearby tree to eat its meal.  Along one track we had to move aside to allow two huge oxen pulling a cart loaded with timber to pass by.  It was here that we watched a small flock of Cuban Parakeets feeding on fruits that Pedro said he had not previously seen them taking.  

A stunning Black-throated Blue Warbler was watched feeding on fruit that had been put out on a bird table.  Back at the bus, we added Plain Pigeon to our growing list as two birds landed in the top of a tree only a short distance away.

We left Pedro as the light was fading and drove back to our hotel seeing a Limpkin on the way.

Day 9: Thursday, 30th December

Our day started badly when Pedro found that the bus had a puncture, but while we ate breakfast, he went and got it repaired and departure for Najasa wasn’t too badly delayed.  On the journey down there we saw our first Crested Caracara.

This morning Pedro took us to a small lake that held Pied-billed and Least Grebes, Great Blue, Little Blue and Green Herons, Neotropic Cormorants, Ruddy Duck and Anhinga.  On the walk there a covey of Northern Bobwhites scurried across the track and a flock of Yellow-faced Grassquits flew into nearby bushes.  Also at the lake we saw a total of five Ospreys, while Caspian Terns skimmed the surface.  A Belted Kingfisher battled with a large fish, smashing it many times against a tree trunk before finally giving up and dropping it back into the water!

While we were at the lake a Giant Kingbird was spotted some way off.  This was the cue for Pedro to play a short burst of a recording of its call and, sure enough, in no time at all the bird was sitting almost beside us!  It stayed for some time giving us excellent views and the only pity was that there was very strong sunlight directly behind it, spoiling any chance of a worthwhile photograph.

We made our way to Pedro’s house for our picnic lunch, which was improved by fresh coffee kindly made for us by Bertha.  Then we spent some time looking at (and in some cases, buying) Pedro’s excellent paintings.  By the time we resumed birding the weather had deteriorated, the wind had got up and it was raining.  Nevertheless we visited a number of further sites where Pedro hoped to find Cuban Grassquit, but we had no luck.  Eventually we decided to call it a day and saying goodbye to Pedro and Bertha, we started on the drive back to Camagüey.  Another Crested Caracara was seen on the return journey.

Day 10: Friday 31st December

We had a slightly later start today, leaving Camagüey at 8.30am for Cayo Coco on the north coast of the island.  Two Crested Caracaras were quartering a field close to the highway as we passed through Sierra de Cubitas, and as we passed the fish farm at Moron, an Osprey was seen plummeting into the water.  The formalities at ‘the border’ took a little longer than usual, but we were soon on our way and marvelling as we saw the 27-km causeway snaking through the sea, joining the Cays to the mainland.  Birding along the causeway was good and here we had our first views of Magnificent Frigatebirds, Royal Terns, Ring-billed Gull, Double-crested Cormorants and Red-breasted Mergansers.  Brown Pelicans were also seen in good numbers and a distant bright orange/red line was identified as a huge flock of Caribbean Flamingos.

After checking in to our hotel and enjoying a leisurely late buffet lunch, we spent the afternoon on Cayo Guillermo.  It was quite breezy so we found a sheltered spot by a lagoon.  Birds of note seen here were white-morph Reddish Egrets, three Great Egrets, Royal and Caspian Terns, Ring-billed Gulls, Tricoloured Heron and two Anhingas.  Moving on we walked along the road seeing Cuban Emeralds, a Northern Waterthrush, many Northern Mockingbirds, Cuban Bullfinch and two Cuban Gnatcatchers.  As we approached a small body of water we noted a Common Black-Hawk sitting on a low branch totally unperturbed by our interest.  A large American Crocodile was also seen here.

We returned to the hotel for a welcome drink and shower, before our special meal to celebrate the New Year, which we welcomed in at midnight UK time.  Most of us retired to bed before midnight local time leaving the rest of the hotels guests to carry on with celebrations.

Day 11: Saturday 1st January

Accompanied by local guide, Hector, we left the hotel at 8.00am this morning for the drive to Cayo Paradon Grande.  Just over two square miles in size Paradon Grande is notable for its beautiful, 157 feet tall, wrought iron lighthouse (built in 1859) but also it is home to several endemic or restricted range bird species that were our targets today. 

After clearing a locked checkpoint on the way, we drove along a pot-holed road towards the lighthouse, stopping eventually at a point amongst the mangroves that really didn’t look any different from the rest.  However, this was the spot where Hector had taken us on a previous visit and it needed only a short walk before we located a Cuban Gnatcatcher and then, almost immediately, a Thick-billed Vireo.  A few minutes later we also found our first Oriente Warbler.  We really could not have wished for quicker or better results!  A Crested Caracara was perched on top of a bush not too far away giving good views, but mosquitoes became a bit of a problem and no-one needed much persuasion to return to the bus.

We headed back the way we had come, going back through the checkpoint barrier before stopping at la pasa de Cayo Romano, a causeway that connects Cayos Paradon Grande and Romano.  Here we had an opportunity to look at a small group of Royal Terns and a number of herons and shorebirds.  One bird in particular caught our attention, a large wader that we took first of all to be a Whimbrel.  It was maybe 75 yards away and was roosting, its head and bill not really visible.  As Whimbrel is described in Birds of Cuba as a very rare winter visitor, this bird obviously merited closer scrutiny, so we got down from the bus and set up our ‘scopes.  It quickly became clear as we got a proper look at it that the bird was not a Whimbrel but a Long-billed Curlew and we have since determined that it was the first of its kind recorded in Cuba since 1987.    

As we examined the Long-billed Curlew we noticed another bird, only about 30 yards from it, that also proved interesting.  It was a large dark-backed gull, which proved to be a Lesser Black-back, a species that isn’t even mentioned in Birds of Cuba.  Enquiries after our return home have revealed that this bird (identifiable by its damaged leg) had been present in this area for several years, so this was maybe not quite such an exciting find as we first thought.

Our next stop was at the area of woodland and lagoons adjacent to the Cueva del Jabali (the Wild Boar’s Cave).  Our target here was the Cayo Coco race of Zapata Sparrow and we were successful in seeing two of them on the track only a few yards ahead of us.  These birds seemed more brightly coloured than the bird we saw in the Zapata area.  In fact they bore a close resemblance to a Green-tailed Towhee and actually behaved rather like one.  At the small lagoon we watched as a Turkey Vulture surveyed the surrounding area from its vantagepoint atop a tall tree.  Many birds came in to drink and bath - Cuban Bullfinch, Western Spindalis, Red-legged Thrush, Black-throated Green and Yellow-throated Warblers.  A male Oriente Warbler showed well on the path back to the car park.

We returned to the hotel for lunch and then feeling refreshed, we returned to Cayo Guillermo with Hector, to search for Bahama Mockingbird.  Before starting off we were puzzled by a strange looking bird on the lawn outside the reception.  On closer inspection it turned out to be a Great Lizard Cuckoo minus it’s tail.  It really did look very strange as it hopped about on the ground! 

On arrival at Cayo Guillermo we left the bus and started to walk along the road scanning around for birds.  A few Northern Mockingbirds were seen and as Hector helped a young English couple with their mis-firing moped, our target appeared – a Bahama Mockingbird perched high on the gorse very close to us allowing great views and for some, a digiscoping opportunity.  As we prepared to move on a Mangrove Cuckoo was also seen.

Photo: Bahama Mockingbird - Peter Dedicoat

Bahama Mockingbird

Happy with a good day's birding we returned to the hotel and said our goodbyes to Hector.

Day 12: Sunday, 2nd January

We started the day with some early pre-breakfast birding along the bank of a canal that runs through the hotel grounds.  Hector had told us that Clapper Rails were being seen here most days and sure enough we eventually heard the call and then saw two of them emerge from the mangroves.  One of them swam a short distance before returning and then there was display followed by mating.

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed back across the causeway.  Most of the birds seen were the same as on our first crossing, but an American Herring Gull was new.  Once we were back on the mainland we settled into our seats for the three-hour journey to Santa Clara, where we arrived in time for lunch at a local restaurant.  After lunch we visited the Monumento Ernesto Che Guevara.  Here, overlooking a vast square, stands a massive statue of ‘El Che’ erected in 1987 to mark the 20th anniversary of his death.  In the museum directly below the monument are exhibits about his life and the decisive Battle of Santa Clara fought in December 1958.  Adjacent to the museum, a mausoleum contains the remains of Guevara and 16 other revolutionaries killed in Bolivia.

Two hours later we arrived back at the Villa Playa Larga and again walked along the track opposite the hotel gate seeing many of the same species as before – Great Lizard Cuckoo, American Redstart, Cuban Parrot, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Black-throated Blue and Palm Warblers and Common Yellowthroat.

After dinner we set out on an ‘Owl prowl’ in the hotel grounds.  Armed with a tape recording of a Stygian Owl’s call and a flashlight, it didn’t us take very long to find our quarry and, fortunately, it showed little inclination to do anything other than sit high in a tree looking back at us - a good end to the day.

Day 13: Monday, 3rd January

Once again we made an early start this morning.  We met with Esdrey after breakfast and headed to Las Bermejas for another crack at the elusive Quail-Doves.  There were the usual warblers by the gate to the reserve and a Great Lizard Cuckoo showed well, but we concentrated on our mission, walking the trails and watching and listening for Quail-Doves.  When we did eventually see our first one, it was inevitably a Grey-headed, the same species we had seen last week.  However, we persevered and later a Key West Quail-Dove was heard calling softly and after some searching we all saw it well walking around in the close undergrowth cooing gently before flying up onto a branch some six feet from the ground. 

We came again to the waterhole that we had visited previously.  Again there were many birds here – Grey Catbirds, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Northern Parula, Cuban Trogon and Cuban Tody.  And, yes, there were both Grey-headed and Key West Quail-Doves, demonstrating that it was the birds and not us who had been in the wrong place last week! 

We returned to the hotel for lunch after which we said good-bye once more to Esdrey and headed for Havana.  Back in the capital we settled into our accommodation and still had time for a walk along the harbour wall before dinner.

Day 14: Tuesday, 4th January

After a leisurely breakfast we checked out of the hotel and met with Santos and Pedro for a tour of their home city.  As well as musuems, churches and statues, we managed to record two bird species new to our list – Antillean Palm-Swift and Eurasian Collared Dove.  And then, after a late lunch at El Aljibe restaurant, we were taken to Jose Marti Airport for our flight home.

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