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A Report from

Playa Pesquero, Holguin, Cuba, 16th-30th August 2006,

John Yates

This year we decided to spend our family summer holiday at the hotel Playa Pesquero in the Holguin province of Cuba. While the holiday was primarily a beach/snorkelling/relaxation holiday, I was able to take some pre breakfast and evening walks to a number of birding sites within 20 minutes of the resort.

This is a brief account of the birds likely to be seen in the vicinity of the Playa Pesquero hotel, and the adjacent Blau Costa Verde hotel.

Playa Pesquero Hotel

This is a superb hotel that I would thoroughly recommend. Our room was clean and spacious and was close to both the pool and restaurants. There is a large swimming pool, with pool bar, and opportunities for a number of sporting activities. All food was of a good standard. It is only a short distance to the beach


The daily temperatures were always over 30oC. Generally I found that the wind began to get up around midday. There were often rumbles of thunder in the evening but the only rain occurred at the end of our second week, during Tropical Storm Ernesto.

Internet Trip reports

These Eastern Cuba trip reports by Blake Maybank were informative.




The extensive hotel grounds are well vegetated with birds very much in evidence. Probably the most common birds at this time of year were Red Legged Thrush, Northern Mockingbird, Cuban Blackbird, Cuban Emerald, Greater Antillean Grackle, Yellow-Faced Grassquit, Gray Kingbird, Loggerhead Kingbird and House Sparrow.

Turkey Vultures always seemed to be in view and Antillean Nighthawks were common at dusk, particularly during our first week.  These were best viewed over the grassy area/football pitch near the beach.

Mourning Dove, White Winged Dove and Common Ground Dove were easily seen in the hotel grounds. Tawny Shouldered Blackbird and Stripe Headed Tanager were also noted on a number of occasions.

Many birds seemed to use the pebbled filter area between the two hotel swimming pools for bathing.

To the West of the hotel beyond the hotel fence the trees/scrub have not been cleared. By looking through the fence I had good views of Black Whiskered Vireo, Oriente Warbler and Cuban/Blue Grey Gnatcatcher. Beyond the wood there is a river. By following the paved path beyond the boundary fence that runs parallel with the beach west, it is possible to reach the river mouth but access up the river was not possible on the hotel side.

On the road leading to the hotel Smooth Billed Anis were regularly noted.

About 10 minutes walk east of the hotel along the paved path, or the beach, there is a small tree lined Ecological Preserve. It is in fact right in front of the Blau Costa Verde hotel and a large and prominent bridge runs from this hotel to the beach. This was a great place to spend an hour in the morning or evening as a number of herons and waders were always present. During our two week stay the pool got dryer and dryer but at the end of August, following Tropical Storm Ernesto, the water levels raised dramatically. The best viewing areas are marked on the map.

Daily birds present were Yellow Crowned Night Heron, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, Clapper Rail, Black Necked Stilt, Spotted Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs.

During late August I also recorded Black Crowned Night Heron, Tricoloured Heron, Killdeer, Solitary Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Laughing Gull (over), Yellow Warbler and Northern Waterthrush.

This site was also used by Turkey Vultures as a roost site. They were often on the beach at dawn and dusk allowing close approach.

Turnstones were noted on the beach and Royal Terns were often in the bay. Towards the end of the holiday there seemed to be a massive influx of Barn Swallows to the bay.

On a family day trip to Rocazul Park, I noticed some water bodies relatively close to the hotel.

By foot these pools were about 20 minutes south of the resort. I am still not clear what the purpose of the pools is.

Leave the foyer of the hotel and walk down to the traffic island passing the bike hire on your right, turn left and walk on to the next traffic island, or cut down the ‘Butterfly track’, where you bear right. Walk down the road until you come to a small village. Prior to entering the village and just by a manned village hut and a village sign with a Trogon on it turn left up a track. After 5 minutes you come to the 5 pools.

Although I didn’t have time this track continues up the hill into the woods. I believe that both excellent birds and great views would be had from here.

I visited the pools the morning after Tropical Storm Ernesto and it was clear that some displacement had occurred. Immediately on arrival I noticed 2 White Cheeked Pintail and had a flyby West Indian Whistling Duck. Among the many Black Necked Stilts and Least Sandpipers present, a flighty Pectoral Sandpiper was present. Eastern Meadowlarks were noted.

On returning to the hotel I had stunning views of 2 Great Lizard Cuckoos in trees adjacent to the road.

This is a well used track that I found to be continuously rich in butterflies. Leave the foyer of the hotel and walk down to the traffic island, turn left and walk on to the next traffic island. Just before reaching the island there is a prominent track on the right that cuts the corner on the way to the pools.

I had some notable birds here including Cuban Vireo, warblers and a calling Great Lizard Cuckoo. However, on hearing what I assumed was another calling warbler I was amazed to be looking at a beautiful Cuban Tody!! Definitely bird of the holiday.

By continuing along the track that leads to the Ecological Preserve, passing the Blau Costa Verde and Playa Costa Verde hotels, an area of scrub/woodland is encountered. After about a mile the sea front is reached. I imagine that in winter this area would be rich in warblers, as on a few evenings I encountered Oriente Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Northern Waterthrush and Yellow Throated Warbler. Vireos were also regularly encountered. I also saw my first Great Lizard Cuckoo here.

Day Trips

This is a new ecotourism based enterprise where visitors can see the archaeology, geology and ecology of the area. It is about 10 minutes form the hotel by taxi/bus and well worth a visit. It appears to be on a bird migratory pathway. We went horse riding, visited an Ostrich farm and had a look around the traditional Cuban farm. It was here that I had good views of Cuban Green Woodpecker and Cuban Pewee, amongst commoner birds.

I believe that the track leading up the hill from the 5 ponds may lead to terrain similar to Rocazul Park. A poster in the Park foyer showed a Cuban Trogon, so who knows!!

We took a 2 day sightseeing trip to the capitol, where I noted Antillean Palm Swifts and Purple Martin

We took a taxi to Gibara. Just before entering this ‘traditional’ fishing village I noticed an enormous area of mangroves/mudflats. Waders were seen to be present including a Willet. Again further investigation would have yielded a rich avifauna.


The area is rich in birdlife and I am sure that a lot more birds are present than indicated above, particularly in the winter or during the Spring/Autumn migration.

If you want quick access to the Ecological Preserve you should try to get a room on the east side of the hotel.

Just offshore from the beach, many colourful fish species were present. Lizards and insects are common as are large bluish coloured crabs. Finally don’t miss the frogs in the foyer pools, particularly the pools nearest the bar.

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