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A Report from

You’re never very far from a Turkey Vulture 2nd - 16th July 2009,

Ian Hughes

Before we had even left the airport at Holguin in Cuba for our Hotel (the grandly named Occidental Grand Playa Turquesa) near Guardalavaca, Turkey Vultures were soaring above. Abundant was definitely the right word for these birds which seemed to be overhead whenever eyes went to the skies for the next 2 weeks.

My wife and son are not quite as enthusiastic about birds as myself but we were all pleased to find the layout of our hotel complex was spread around a highly vegetated area sloping down to the sea. By tea time I had already sorted out Red Legged Thrushes, Grey Kingbirds, Northern Mocking Birds and numerous Grackles when I was excited to see a “nightjarry” bird flying over our room. It turned out to be an Antillean Nighthawk which I was to see several more times during our stay.

On a pre-breakfast walk the following morning I found surprisingly small Common Ground Doves between the trees on the beach and a very accommodating Yellow Crowned Night Heron (even managed a photo). I didn’t see it again and now believe it was quite a lucky spot.

On a sight-seeing trip into a local mountainous area our Cuban driver, Jorge (Haw-hey) had an interest in birds and helped us to find a Trogon, the national bird of Cuba and endemic to the island. On the same day we spotted the only “rare” bird of the holiday (according to my Cuban Bird Book) which was the Collared Swift. A group of them screamed over a waterfall as we watched from a wooden viewing tower.

Before we left England, I had set my heart on seeing a Cuban Tody, a tiny brightly coloured bird, and we were finally rewarded on our last day whilst on a guided walk around the Rocazul Bioparque just half a mile from our hotel.

Besides the birds, we saw loads of butterflies, fish, crabs, lizards and a snake. I would highly recommend the venue to anyone interested in wildlife (or history, politics and sunbathing).

Full List of Birds Spotted (without any great effort).

Turkey Vulture 
Greater Antillean Grackle 
House Sparrow 
Red Legged Thrush
Cuban Blackbird
Tawny Shouldered Blackbird
Northern Mocking Bird
White Winged Dove 
Mourning Dove
Common Ground Dove 
Grey Kingbird
Loggerhead Kingbird 
Antillean Nighthawk
Cuban Green Woodpecker
Yellow-faced Grassquit 
Cuban Grassquit 
Smooth Billed Ani 
Stripe Headed Tanager
Helmeted Guinea Fowl
American Kestrel 
Cuban Emerald (humming bird)
Brown Pelican 
Cave Swallow
Cuban Martin
Antillean Palm Swift
White Collared Swift
Laughing Gull
Sandwich Tern
Royal Tern
Cattle Egret
Snowy Egret
Great White Egret
Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Green Heron
Little Blue heron
Yellow Warbler
Black Whiskered Vireo
Eastern Meadow Lark
Grey Plover
Black Necked Stilt
Cuban Trogan
Cuban Peewee
Cuban Tody

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