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Cuba Birding Trip Report
14 - 27 March 2002
Dave and Nad Sargeant
Dave Sargeant & Panadda Panthong
Our two-week stay in Cuba followed a week in Jamaica. We enjoyed Cuba very much - especially compared to Jamaica - and two weeks is ample time to visit all the birding sites as well as spend some time on the beach, or take in some history and culture. We found the Cuban people extremely hospitable and friendly, the infrastructure good, and travelling around quite easy. We would definitely recommend it as an interesting location for independent travellers and birders. This trip report is intended to supplement information readily available in other reports listed below by highlighting new or relevant information where appropriate.
Health and Safety
No problems at all on this front. We never felt threatened in any of the places we visited, and travel was quite hassle-free, although a reasonable knowledge of Spanish helped here. Mosquitoes and small biting flies were a nuisance at Playa Larga, Soroa (in the forest) and Cayo Coco, but dealt with effectively using a good insect repellant. We didn't take a mosquito net, but one would have been useful on one night in Playa Larga. As malaria has been eradicated on Cuba, there is no need for prophylaxis. Tap water appeared to be safe to drink, though we stuck with bottled water (and beer).
Getting there - Flights and Visa
Everyone entering Cuba requires a visa or, more correctly, a tourist card. Depending on where you intend to start your journey to Cuba seems to dictate how you need to go about obtaining a tourist card. The Cuban embassy in London was quite unhelpful and refused to answer questions on the phone - the only information they would give was "send us a stamped-addressed envelope and we will send you the necessary information." Their official line is that you require a confirmed flight and three nights accommodation in Cuba. If travelling from Europe a tourist card can be issued by the travel agent if the flight and accommodation are booked through them. However, an easier way appears to enter via Jamaica. When flying to Havana from either Kingston or Montego Bay, you are asked at check-in if you have a tourist card. If you do not, they provide one for $15. On entry to Havana the card, not your passport, is stamped and must be produced at the time of exit from Cuba. As usual, you are asked to state your address in Cuba on the card. Simply put down one of the bigger, well-known hotels and you should not experience problems. From Europe we flew an open jaw from London to Montego Bay and back from Havana on British Airways as they allowed it for the same price as a return to Montego Bay. This meant that we had to buy a one-way Kingston to Havana on Jamaican Airlines which was a rather steep $260 per person. At Havana there is an airport departure tax of $20.
Getting around - Car Rental etc.
As public transport is almost non-existent outside of Havana, unless you have unlimited time a rental car is the only practical way to bird around Cuba. Although several car rental companies operate in Cuba, all appear to be controlled by the State, and their quoted prices are identical. We booked in advance directly with Cubacar, and were quoted a price of $83/day fully inclusive. Despite having an advance reservation, when we arrived in Cuba the company had mysteriously lost our booking. However the staff were very helpful, admitted the screw-up on their side, and managed to provide a car as originally reserved. Interestingly we were able to have the car for $77 per day fully inclusive. We would consider it essential to reserve a car in advance, especially during the peak tourist time from December to April. Judging by the volume of tourists passing through when we were there if you didn't have a reservation, there would be a distinct possibility of having to wait more than a day for a vehicle. We also had the feeling that the apparent, very high, turn-around of cars might lead to improperly prepared or maintained vehicles being rented. The smallest (group B) vehicles appeared to be in a poorer condition and one French tourist we met was on their fifth car in two weeks. The vehicle we were given was a relatively new, group C, Hyundai Elantra with 51,000 km on the clock. The car worked flawlessly for the first week, but one afternoon died completely with no warning. Fortunately we were relatively near the Cubacar office in Cayo Coco, and much to their credit, once contacted they drove out to where we had broken down, transported us to our hotel and provided a replacement car within a few hours.
Something to be very aware of when renting is when the next service is due. There is a $50 fine if a car is returned with a kilometre reading higher than when the next service is due. The next service is always entered on the rental agreement in the box entitled próximo mantinimento. Our itinerary, typical of the standard birding route, covered 4,000 km.
One thing you immediately become aware of when driving around Cuba is the large number of people hitching. Public bus services are totally inadequate, forcing large numbers of people to hitch, many of whom are prepared to pay. Evidently Cuba is an extremely safe to hitch as it was fairly common to see single women and even school children hitching, During our two weeks in Cuba we gave numerous lifts.
Probably the nicest things about driving in Cuba is the lack of vehicles on the roads, which compared to Europe are almost empty. However, you should expect to share the road with plenty of horse carts and bicycles.
Petrol was not difficult to obtain, though rather expensive at $0.90 per litre. It is advisable to keep a reasonable amount in the tank as there can be shortages from time to time. Rental cars take the higher octane "especial". On one occasion, in Morón, we were unable to obtain this and had to partly fill the tank with normal "gasolina", which caused the engine to knock quite a bit.
As might be expected, road maps are either non-existent or unobtainable in Cuba, so bring one with you. We used the Insight Travel Map of Cuba 1:800,000 which was more than adequate for driving around the country. The maps of Havana in the Lonely Planet were useful when we had to drive around Havana on a couple of occasions.
Despite the confusion of having three currencies circulating (US$, convertible pesos and local pesos), the only currency required of tourists is US$. Although many bird trip reports mention to bring a stack of small denomination bills, only a few are necessary, as it is easy to split larger bills at petrol stations and tourist hotels. There is no need to bring anything smaller than a $20 note.
We stayed in a variety of tourist hotels and casas particulares (bed and breakfast provided by local people). Most offered quite good value though the quality was somewhat variable. Expect to pay $35-40 for a State run tourist hotel, and $20-$25 for a casa particular. We stayed at the following places:
Rio Crystal Motel, Havana. $35/double. This tourist hotel is the closest tourist accommodation to the international airport in Havana, being only 3-4 kilometres away. As we arrived late at night and had no desire to drive into Havana this was a convenient choice. Normally this would probably be a good choice, but a blaring poolside disco, just outside our door, kept us awake until 02:00. Not a good introduction to Cuban music!
Villa Soroa, Soroa. $43/double inc. breakfast. This newly-refurbished hotel was the nicest place we stayed. Double cabins are set in pleasant gardens with a good swimming pool. Cuban Pygmy-Owl and Stygian Owl can be found in the gardens. This hotel had the best stocked snack food shop that we encountered.
Hotel Mirador, San Diego de los Baños. $32/double. Conveniently close to La Guira "National Park".
Villa Playa Larga, Playa Larga. $35/double inc. breakfast. A large tourist hotel that caters to all the visiting tour groups. This was one of the worst places we stayed, mainly on account of the number of mosquitoes in the room and poor air-conditioning that made sleeping difficult. We only stayed one night before transferring to a casa particular. The hotel was damaged by the hurricane of September 2001, and closed for three months. Unfortunately the repairs have not included replacing the damaged mosquito netting and window frames which allow the hordes to enter the rooms. The restaurant has a particularly poor reputation.
Casa Particular Nivaldo, Playa Larga. $25 inc. breakfast and evening meal. $7 extra for lunch. This is a new casa particular, handily located just around the corner from El Chino's (local guide) house. Nivaldo was previously a chef in one of the larger tourist hotels, and food here was the best we had on the trip. He only has one room with one double and a single bed. The air conditioning worked well and mosquitoes could be kept out of the room. Highly recommended.
Motel Mirador San Fernando, Morón. $32/double. Tourist motel conveniently situated just on the south side of Morón at the intersection of the roads to town and Cayo Coco. This was the poorest restaurant we encountered, and after one meal either ate in town or Cayo Coco.
You want fish, chicken, or pork, or fish, chicken or pork? Food, or the lack of choice is definitely one of the low points of travel in Cuba. State run restaurants (i.e. those in the tourist hotels), although clean, offer limited choice, small portions, and slow service. Food is much better when staying in the casas particulares with the local Cubans.
A basic selection of drinks, fruit juices and snack food is available at highway service stations and the occasional roadside restaurant, though the choice was often extremely limited. To add some variety, it is a good idea to bring some snack foods from home. We took dried fruit which was a welcome addition to the limited variety of biscuits that could be bought locally. Oddly we never encountered any place to buy fresh fruit.
As few people outside of tourist areas speak English, a basic knowledge of Spanish is pretty essential to ease travelling around. Even at the Cubacar rental desk in the airport no one spoke English, although the manager at their local office in Cayo Coco did.
March seems to be a good time to visit Cuba, as we had excellent weather throughout. Most days were warm to hot with partial cloud and a light breeze. The only rain we encountered was a few short showers on Cayo Coco.
Field Guides: Birds of the West Indies by Raffaele, Wiley et al. (1998). Helm. This was the only field guide we took and it proved to be adequate. Other birders have additionally taken an American field guide to aid with identification of winter plumage warblers.
Trip Reports: Cuba. December 1999 / January 2000 by Henk Hendriks. Available direct from the author at he.hendriks[at]wxs.nl
Cuba. 14-21 July 2001 by Roger Ahlman. Available direct from the author at roger.ahlman[at]swipnet.se
We would recommend obtaining at least three of the first four reports mentioned above.
Other: Cuba. Lonely Planet. Second edition July 2000. This, or a similar traveller's guide is extremely useful for finding your way around towns, restaurants and accommodations.
Local guides at Najasa and Playa Larga, although not essential for finding the specialities, will save you an enormous amount of time and grief in searching for some of the difficult species. Both the guides we used were well worth the fees we paid them and made our stay in Cuba much more enjoyable, as well as contributing directly to the local economy.
At Najasa, you should contact Pedro Regalado, a professional ornithologist who lives right next to La Belen park and has both Giant Kingbird, Cuban Palm Crow and a host of other specialities mostly within walking distance of his house. Pedro is a very welcoming host and enjoys meeting foreign birders. We enjoyed our time with him immensely. In addition to paying for his services as a guide it is nice to bring some small gifts for him and his wife. Previously contacting Pedro by letter invariably didn't work as letters to him rarely seemed to arrive. However, he now has access to the Internet at a local business café, and can be contacted on silvio[at]cmg.jcce.org.cu or silvio[at]minag.cmw.inf.cu. [Note that since our return I have tried without success to contact him on these e-mail addresses - not surprisingly, as this is Cuba]. Details of how to find his house are available in Sutton's and vander Woude's reports.
In Playa Large, several guides are available through the forestry office (on the right as you enter town from the autopista). The most well-know is Orestes Martínez Garcia, better known as "El Chino". Two other well known guides are Angel Martínez and his brother Osmane Martínez. All have tape recorders, excellent local knowledge, and will do their utmost to help you see the species you require. There appears to be no official rate for guiding, and what people have paid appears to vary. We paid El Chino a total of $100 for seven half day sessions over the four days we were in the area. El Chino now has a house in Playa Larga. To find it - when entering town from the north (off the autopista) keep right at the main fork as you enter town and zero the car odometer. At 1.3 km turn left (back on yourself) onto a dirt track. El Chino's house is the 5th building on the right. Alternatively just ask anywhere in town - it's such a small place and everyone knows him.
In addition to the authors of the trips reports we used, we would like to especially thank Henk Hendriks, Jon Hornbuckle and Phil Gibson for up to date information and additional assistance.
Soroa is about a one hour drive west of Havana, and easily accessed via the autopista. Although, from a birding perspective, this is not an essential site to visit, it is a very pleasant place to spend a couple of days. The hotel has been completely renovated, has a great swimming pool and gardens, and is situated only a hundred metres from the start of the forest trails with a walk to a spectacular view point. The bird species here are almost identical to those at La Güira, with the exception of Olive-capped Warbler which does not occur as its habitat, Pinus carribeus is absent. However there is a good chance of Blue-headed Quail-Dove on the forest trails early in the morning before the crowds arrive. If you are feeling really lazy it's even possible to ride a horse to the view point ($3). This was the only place we saw Scaly-naped Pigeon and we were able to look down on Cuban Solitaire from the viewpoint. Cuban Pygmy-Owl is extremely common in the hotel grounds, and Stygian Owl also occurs, though we had no response to a tape.
La Güira is a "national park" 40 km west of Soroa and can be reached from Soroa within an hour's drive. The two specialities of the area are Olive-capped Warbler and Cuban Solitaire -- the former is common in the pines, the later common by voice. The only tourist accommodation is at the nearby town of San Diego de los Baños where you can also find a small shop at the petrol station just as you enter town. Having driven under the archway at the park entrance, follow the road for c7 km straight up the hill and bear right at the fork to arrive in the pines. If you continue on foot at the end of the road there are a couple of reasonable forest trails that we briefly explored and have potential, possibly for Quail-Doves. Gundlach's Hawk is a remote possibility.
Playa Larga, situated on the famous Bay of Pigs, 180 km south east of Havana can be reached via the autopista within three hours from Havana. This is the key birding area in Cuba, and holds most of the specialities. At least 3-4 days are required to get to grips with most of them, and a local guide is almost essential (see contacts section above). The main birding areas are the forest tracks and trails around the villages of Soplillar and Pálpite. An additional trip into the Zapata Swamp will also required for those wishing to try for the Zapata Rail, Sparrow and Wren. We also visited swamp areas around Bermejas for Cuban Red-shouldered Blackbird. The only official tourist hotel in town is the Villa Playa Larga, but mosquitoes here appeared to be quite a nuisance, so it's preferable to stay in one of the several casas particulares.
Najasa is the well know site for Giant Kingbird and Cuban Palm Crow, two seriously threatened species. Other species more easily seen here include Cuban Grassquit, Cuban Parakeet and Plain Pigeon. Although not essential, it is an excellent idea to contact the local ornithologist Pedro Regalado in advance, who will willingly take you around for a small fee. He can arrange accommodation in the adjacent La Belén National Park. Otherwise it is necessary to stay in a hotel in Camagüey, 40 km away.
Cayo Coco, and its Cancun-like beach resorts catering solely to western visitors get a bad press in the Lonely Planet guide. Certainly the native habitat destruction continues apace and one dreads to think what the environmental impact to its pristine beaches and native habitats will be over the next ten years. A series of offshore keys, of which Cayo Coco is the biggest, are connected to the mainland by a 23 km causeway across the bay. Almost all the accommodation on the island is of the fully-inclusive type and horrendously expensive. We did note however cheap beach bungalows at Flamingo Beach and Sítio La Güira for around $15-25, although a couple we met who were staying didn't recommend it at all. It's almost certainly better to stay in Morón, at one of the hotels or casas particulares, and drive across every morning - a 45 minute journey. There is a $2 charge to use the causeway per vehicle per crossing and passports are checked when leaving the mainland.
Thurs 14th March
We took the daily Air Jamaica flight from Kingston, which arrived in Havana slightly late at 20:45. This service did not appear heavily used, as the Fokker 50 turboprop was only half full. The flight took more than two hours. From a visa perspective, flying into Cuba from Jamaica appears to be a relatively hassle-free route, as our Cuba tourist card was simply sold to us for $15 at check-in. Unfortunately our arrival in Havana coincided with the arrival of a couple of tourist charters from Europe and the immigration hall was packed. By the time we had passed through customs and immigration it was after 22:00. Our trip did not get off to a good start, as the Cubacar rental desk had no record of our reservation. Fortunately, we had brought a copy of the e-mail with the reservation number, and the staff, after a bit of effort, were able to find us a car, which proved to be a fairly new Hyundai Elantra which at $77 per day all inclusive was slightly less than the originally quoted price. Competition seems to slowly be having an effect on rates. Due to the late hour we had no intention of driving into central Havana, so were directed to the closest tourist hotel - the Rio Crystal ($35/double) - only a few kilometres from the airport. Normally this would have made a fine place to stay being right on the route toward the autopista. However, on this particular evening we had to endure a poolside disco right outside our door which finally shut-up at 02:00. Not a good introduction to the Cuban musical heritage!
Fri 15th March
Despite the poor night's sleep, after a quick coffee and eggs in the bar/café, we made a reasonably early start. Whilst loading up the car we stopped to admire a Red-legged Thrush in the adjacent trees - a smart Caribbean endemic. Despite a lack of road signs, by asking a few times, we managed to find our way to the autopista heading west out of Havana. Our first impression of Cuba was of the large number of people hitching by the road side. No sooner had we got on the highway than a policeman flagged us down and we ended up giving three of the local constabulary a lift as far as the Soroa turn-off. As our first passengers jumped out, they held the door open for another to jump in. This time a rather chatty agricultural engineer going to Soroa. Finding the excellently located Villa Soroa Hotel ($43) was simplicity itself and by 10:30 we had checked in. A quick check of the hotel grounds gave us our first endemics - Cuban Emerald and Cuban Trogon. We took lunch at the tourist restaurant at the start of the Mirador and waterfall trails, and experienced our first taste of Cuban state run restaurants - dull, uninspiring food and slow service. The local musicians playing in the open-air restaurant were more interesting than the food. However the location next to the river gave us excellent views of a Louisiana Waterthrush feeding on a concrete weir - a lifer. After lunch we worked the trails, firstly to the viewpoint, which offers a splendid view, and then those farther downhill. We had a couple of fleeting glimpses of quail-doves. Being our first day in Cuba we saw a bucket-load of snazzy endemics such as the Cuban Tody and Giant Lizard-Cuckoo. We were also amazed at how many snakes we saw - they really seemed common here. Apparently none of the snakes on Cuba are venomous. By 18:00 it was getting dark we so returned to the hotel. After a buffet dinner ($10/head) and a local bottle of white plonk ($8) we investigated the larger trees behind cabins 45-48. Finding Cuban Pygmy-Owl was simplicity itself as several were active in the trees and responded to an imitation of their call. No sign of Stygian Owl though.
Sat 16th March
With an excellent night's sleep behind us we were up and out before dawn at 06:00. We wanted to be the first visitors on the forest trails, so as to at least stand a chance of finding Blue-headed Quail-Dove. Several Cuban Solitaires were singing and we eventually we had an excellent view of one individual from the viewpoint, where we also found Scaly-naped Pigeon. On the way down we flushed, and again had poor views of, a Blue-headed Quail-Dove. Other species of interest included Cuban Green Woodpecker and Cuban Bullfinch. Before 09:00 we returned to the hotel for breakfast, and then back to the forest where for $3 we took a horse ride, once again to the summit viewpoint. By 13:00, in the heat of the day, we had checked out and were en route to Los Baños. We got slightly lost following the map in Sutton's report, but on asking directions we managed to ask someone who was also traveling to Los Baños, so the problem was solved. After checking into the hotel, and a couple of cokes in the bar, we drove to La Güira, where we spent the rest of the afternoon in the pleasant pines forests at Los Piños, seeing Olive-capped Warbler with ease. Back in Los Baños we tried to find a shop to stock up on a few basic provisions, but discovered the only shop in town was the small one at the petrol station. Dinner at the hotel was the usual dull affair ($16 for two), improved by a few local Crystal beers. Before crashing out we looked, without success, for Stygian Owl in the hotel grounds. It seems amazing that an owl of this size might occur in the grounds of the hotel as it is situated in town and has only about three trees in the garden. The adjacent trees outside were equally non-productive.
Sun 17th March
We were into La Güira at first light, walking the forest trails above and beyond the cabins, where we flushed a couple of quail-doves. Most of the species seen were a repeat of the previous afternoon, though we had excellent views of Broad-tailed Hawk and a Hooded Warbler in the forest. We left La Güira at 09:15 and drove to Playa Larga, arriving there 15:30 with a quick roadside stop for bar-b-que chicken ($6 for two meals). Despite the almost total lack of road signs we found driving around Havana less problematic than we had expected. Following the Ring Road as depicted in the Lonely Planet, past Park Lenin seems to do the trick. Upon arrival in Playa Larga we checked into the Villa Playa Larga, and almost immediately left again to find one of the recommended local guides. This took almost no effort as after asking at the park office and driving through town looking for his house, we were found by El Chino himself rapidly peddling after us on his bicycle. With two hours of light still remaining El Chino guided us to a close-by Bee Hummingbird and a pair of Fernandina's Flicker - two excellent birds right away. We had been concerned that recent visitors had been unable to find the Bee Hummingbird due to the hurricane in September 2001. Although the infrastructure has been repaired, the natural landscape still bears the marks of the devastation caused by the hurricane. Almost half the trees are snapped in half and many of the forest trails were still impassable, having not yet been cleared. On El Chino's advise (not that we took much convincing) we passed on the hotel food, and ate at the Casa Particular of Nivaldo, where for $10 head we had an excellent lobster dinner with more side dishes than we could possibly manage - by far the best food we had indulged in so far. After dinner El Chino showed us Stygian Owl in the hotel grounds. This was ridiculously easy - the bird on exactly the branch at exactly the time that El Chino had said it would be. We had a poor night's sleep, due to mosquitoes in the room, poor air-conditioning, and the results of gorging ourselves on too much food. Fortunately we had agreed to move into Nivaldo's casa particular the next day.
Mon 18th March
An early start with El Chino to Soplillar where we spent most of the morning walking through devastated forest, woodland and savanna. One of the highlights of the morning was Bare-legged Owl at a nest site, emphasising one of the advantages to using a local guide in this large area. For the most part we spent the morning hacking through scrub toward a nesting area of Gundlach's Hawk which gave brief and tantalising views as it flew around between the tree tops. By 11:00 we returned to the hotel to check out and move into Nivaldo's, where he provided us with another of his speciality overkill lunches. At 15:00 we left with El Chino and worked a good trail near Cueva de los Peces trying to get to grips with quail-doves. This was not at all successful, only providing one view of a disappearing Blue-headed. We meet a couple a British birders who were likewise having difficulties with quail-doves. Toward dusk we tried for Cuban Nightjar near Soplillar, but failed to even hear one. An unexpected Fernandina's Flicker was however a bonus. Here we met another birder - this time an Italian. Seems that Cuba is becoming very popular among birders these days. Thankfully, an excellent night's sleep with no mosquitoes and aircon that worked.
Tues 19th March
We were back on the quail-dove hunt again this morning, starting at first light in forest behind Pálpite. Here we met with success in seeing Grey-headed Quail-Dove at close range. We also checked a small lagoon inside the forest which occasionally holds West Indian Whistling-Duck (which we had dipped on in Jamaica), but today it held only a Solitary Sandpiper and a few common waterbirds. On the return walk we found another Bee Hummingbird. After lunch we went for a swim at the sandy beach just south east of the Playa Larga Hotel. The late afternoon was devoted to the Zapata Swamp. The main target here was the Zapata Wren, which requires wading into the swamp, where the water level depends on the time of year. During March, this is a piece of cake as the water level is no higher than ones knees. However you do need to watch out for the occasional "hole" in the reeds. Our trip into the swamp was destined to be a short one. We hadn't gone in more than 50 metres when we heard a Zapata Wren singing off to our right. Moving out toward it we were able to get rather close, whereupon it dived lower in the saw grass where it seemed to be nest-building. We were so engrossed in looking at the wren that it took us a few moments to realise that there was another odd noise in the background, but fairly close. A noise which sounded a lot like a larger animal with four legs moving toward us. "I think that's probably an alligator" said El Chino, moving past us at the fastest pace we'd seen him move. We definitely same out at a lot faster pace than we'd gone in! Only a short view of the wren alas. Not surprisingly El Chino was not keen to go in and have another look, and according to him alligators are rare in the area. In the remainder of the light we tried for Zapata Sparrow without luck, but did find Cuban Red-shouldered Blackbird and Spotted Rail, as well as getting incredibly close to Zapata Rail. Even though we could see the grass moving, the bird stayed completely hidden - very frustrating. On the return journey we tried a couple of stops looking for Cuban Nightjar, but only heard a couple of distant individuals. In celebration of the successful day we had another of Nivaldo's lobster dinners.
Wed 20th March
An early start to arrive at 06:00 in the Turba area where we had found the wren yesterday, finding an excellent Cuban Nightjar on the track before light. Not a lot new, but we did have another pair of Cuban Red-shouldered Blackbird. After breakfast at Nivaldo's we returned to the forest trails near Punta Perdiz to once again search for Key West Quail-Dove, and where we again failed to locate any. We then continued on to a marsh east of Playa Girón and Bermejas, which produced yet another Cuban Red-shouldered Blackbird. In the early afternoon we drove back to Playa Girón for petrol and took some photos along the rather picturesque coastline and then took a rather late lunch at a roadside campismo serving passable bar-b-que chicken and squid. At 16:00 we went out one final time with El Chino, covering forest trails at both Soplillar and Pálpite, where we again dipped on Key West Quail-Dove. We did however have stunning views of a pair of Blue-headed Quail-Dove in the sun on one of the trails.
Thurs 21st March
Another early start to arrive at the marsh near Bermejas we had visited yesterday. Surprisingly few birds were in evidence, though we saw a pair of Wood Duck, four Cuban Red-shouldered Blackbird and another Fernandina's Flicker. After a final breakfast at Nivaldo's we said good bye to our gracious host. We had a longish drive today, which for the main part was shared with one of El Chino's friends whom we had agreed to give a lift to Camagüey. We had expected that having a local with us would have made the journey very straightforward (especially since it was all supposed to be on the highway!). However, I'm sure we ended up asking for directions many more times than if we'd been on our own with the map. The drive from Playa Larga to Camagüey took five hours, despite the assurances of El Chino and Nivaldo that it was "three hours" - an impossibility. From Camagüey we followed the map in vanderWoude's report to Najasa and easily found the house of Pedro Regalado, who was not at home, having gone to town for the afternoon. Not to waste time, we visited the local cemetery, where we readily found several amazing Cuban Grassquit, as well as Giant Kingbird and Cuban Palm Crow in the adjacent trees - a nice start! A short while later Pedro returned, so we were able to chat with him and his wife. They made us extremely welcome, and put us up for the night as well as cooked dinner for us. Not a particularly good night's sleep due to the local dogs, trucks and, well before dawn, the roosters.
Fri 22nd March
Woke up to one of Najasa's rare foggy mornings. Our first new bird was a group of Cuban Parakeets in an adjacent field and the mist. We spent most of the morning visiting a number of nearby lakes searching for West Indian Whistling-Duck, though we failed to find any. Later we visited an area of fruiting palms where we found a couple of Plain Pigeon and a few Cuban Palm Crow. Although identifying the Palm Crow at this time of year is easy, as they call so often, I would imagine a great deal of difficulty if they were silent, although with practice the differences in flight and flight silhouette are discernable. We finished with another look at the Giant Kingbird. After lunch, and meeting Pedro's daughter, we said our farewells and drove to Morón, where we checked into the Mirador San Fernando, the first tourist hotel we encountered, on the edge of town. As it was still relatively early we decided to check out the road to Cayo Coco. On the way back we decided to stop off at the Laguna Redonda situated on the large lake and have a beer. At dusk, upon leaving and just before the hoards of mosquitos came out, the car refused to start. Great! This was further complicated by the bar having no telephone. Fortunately our friendly barman was able to radio his head office, who in turn telephoned our hotel, who in turn telephoned the Cubacar rental office on Cayo Coco. With the mosquitoes coming out in droves we shut ourselves in the car, and had to wait a couple of hours until the agent from Cubacar arrived. We have to admit we were pretty impressed with their service. From here we were given a lift back to our hotel, which included an impromptu tour of Morón. A replacement car arrived at the hotel an hour later. We took dinner at the hotel, and wished we hadn't - an over-priced basic affair with the fried chicken even arriving raw. Disappointingly, another noisy night as we had the room closest to the bar that featured live entertainment.
Sat 23rd March
An idle start to the day with a lay-in till 09:00. The first task was to change rooms to one at the far end of the complex, much farther from the bar noise. At 10:30 we left for Cayo Coco, paying the $2 toll to use the causeway, and where our passports were checked pretty thoroughly. It was a fairly slow drive over with many of interesting species en route such as Red-breasted Merganser, thousands of flamingos and a number of heron and wader species. En route over we stopped to speak to Randy, a Canadian fisherman who spoke about the all inclusive hotels on Cayo Coco, and if we cared to pay a visit we might be able to get in for free at the Senador where he was staying. Once on Cayo Coco our first visit was to Flamingo Beach where we had lunch ($8) and birded the access road down to the beach. We had hoped for Zapata Sparrow, but only found Oriente Warbler and Cuban Bullfinch. On the advice of El Chino's, we drove to the scrub near Cueva de Jabali where we quickly found Zapata Sparrow and Cuban Gnatcatcher, the only site where we saw this later species. We then decided to check the enclosed lagoon opposite Flamingo Beach, as we were aware of the possibility for West Indian Whistling-Duck. Although there was no whistling-ducks we did find Grey Kingbird. We had a stroke of luck just as we decided to leave, when ten whistling-ducks flew over at 18:10, followed by another pair at 18:30 - an excellent finish to the day. After a couple of beers on the coast watching the sunset we drove back across the causeway where we had prolonged views of a Barn Owl hunting the grassy edges about half way between Cayo Coco and the mainland.
Sun 24th March
Another lay in till 08:30 this morning - becoming a habit. Firstly we headed for Cayo Coco, where we had a quick breakfast in the petrol station, before we back-tracked along the causeway to scan through the assortment of herons and waders there, finding a few Ring-billed Gull. From here we drove the 30 km to the lighthouse on Cayo Romano, where we were invited to climb up inside by the lighthouse keeper. The view from the top was pretty spectacular, especially as we realised we'd left the camera in the car. Although we looked for the Thick-billed Vireo along the track to the southeast, we were unsurprised not to find it in the heat of the day, so we continued farther down the track to the restaurant at Playa de Piñar, where we spent the afternoon on the beach and swimming. Around 16:30 we headed back and this time were successful in locating a pair of vireos about 800 metres before the lighthouse. We also found another pair 1.5 km from the lighthouse along the road as we returned to Cayo Coco. Once back in Morón we decided to eat in town. Giving a lift to a local couple we asked for directions to the "best place to eat in town". Unfortunately, we couldn't find it and ended up eating a simple café - much cheaper the hotel ($6 for two), but with similarly poor to non-existent menu.
Mon 25th March
An earlier start this morning heading east out of Morón, where we first stopped at the large reservoir c15 km east of town near Bolivia. Despite the excellent looking vegetation we saw little of note other than a couple of Snail Kite, so we continued farther east, following the directions in Ahlman's report, to look for Sandhill Crane. Once off the road the track deteriorates badly, so we ended up walking the last part. In wet weather this track would be impassible to a two-wheel drive. We had no luck with the cranes but did have a Bobwhite flying across the road. We then headed back to Cayo Coco, where we decided to give Randy's suggestion a test. At the first entrance gate of the Senador Hotel there was no way we were going to be allowed in, so we tried another. Here, after some waffle about meeting important friends and a phone call to reception ("who were we visiting?") we were invited to "park over there" and "ask at the reception desk". Needless to say we used this opportunity to find our friend, use the beach, swim in the pool, drink in the bar and eat in the restaurant (best food of the trip!). Highly recommended - especially if you don't pay the going rate of $200 a day all in. We left at 22:00, after the evening entertainment, and drove back to Morón, without unfortunately finding Barn Owl again.
Tues 26th March
As this was our last full day we started at 06:00 at Cayo Coco, birding along the track to Flamingo Beach. This was excellent for Zapata Sparrow, with no less than five individuals found. The main target was the still elusive Key West Quail-Dove. We did an excellent trail through undisturbed forest about one kilometre before the petrol station when approaching from Morón, and would encourage others to try it. No luck on the quail-dove, but another Zapata Sparrow found. After another lunch at Flamingo Beach we drove west to Cayo Guillermo and out to the eastern end where we found Bahama Mockingbird with little difficulty in the heat of the day. In the late afternoon we checked the lake near the main hotels on Cayo Coco and had excellent views of a roosting Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Most surprisingly we bumped into El Chino who was escorting a private tour, as well as a couple of British birders. Having been recommended to see the 21:30 evening cabaret in the Cueva de Jabali we hung around until 22:00 after which, as not one other person arrived, we drove back to Morón. Just after leaving Cueva de Jabali we had the most bizarre sighting of the trip, with a pair of West Indian Whistling-Duck standing in the middle of the road, seemingly far from water.
Wed 27th March
We checked-out of the hotel around 10:00 and drove to Havana international airport, arriving at 16:30, having had to ask for directions a few times on the outskirts. We had a few difficulties to find the car rental office due to the lack of signs - a constant feature of driving in Cuba. Our British Airways flight to London left on time in the early evening.
Least Grebe Tachybaptus dominicus
Pálpite: 3 (19/3).
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Pálpite: 2 (19/3). Najasa: 1 (22/3). Morón: 10 on the reservoir east of town (25/3).
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
Playa Larga: 1 en route (19/3). Cayo Coco: Up to 10 daily (23-25/3).
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Najasa: 4 (22/3).
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Cayo Coco: Common around all islands with up to 50 daily (23-26/3).
Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
Najasa: 2 (22/3). Morón: 2 on the reservoir east of town (25/3).Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
Cayo Coco: Observed daily (24-26/3) with max. 10 (23/3).
West Indian Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna arborea
Playa Larga: Distant views of a group of 10 (20/3) flying over at dusk just outside El Chino's house (not a know site for them!). Cayo Coco: A group of 10 and another group of 2 at 18:10 and 18:30 respectively (23/3) at the small lake opposite Flamingo Beach. Having struggled to see these in both Jamaica and at Najasa it was a welcome relief to finally get to grips with this species. Another pair, standing in the middle of the road near the Cueva de Jabali (26/3) at night, were one of the most weird sightings of our trip.
Wood Duck Aix sponsa
Playa Larga: A single (21/3) in the wooded swamp east of Bermejas.
American Wigeon Anas americana
Morón: 8 (25/3) on the reservoir east of town.
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
Pálpite: 1 (19/3), 2 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 6 (23/3), 10 (26/3).
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Cayo Coco: 6 (23/3).
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
Cayo Coco: Up to 40 daily (23-26/3) along the causeway from the mainland.
American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber ruber
Cayo Coco: 3,000 - 6,000 daily (23-26/3) mainly around the northern end of the causeway.
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens
Cayo Coco: 40 (23/3), 6 (26/3).
Tricoloured Heron Egretta tricolor
Pálpite: 4 (19/3), 2 (21/3).Najasa: 2 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 6+ (23-24/3), 4 (26/3).
Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea
Pálpite: 4 (19/3). Turba: 8 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (26/3).
Snowy Egret Egretta thula
Cayo Coco: Up to 25+ daily (23-26/3).
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Soplillar: 2 (19/3). Turba: 2 (20/3). Bermejas: 2 (21/3). Najasa: 2 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 4+ daily (23-26/3).
Great Egret Casmerodius albus
Soplillar: 1 (19/3). Turba: 10 (20/3). Bermejas: 2 (21/3). Najasa: 3 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 4+ daily (23-26/3).
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Recorded most days with 100+ (22/3) around Najasa.
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Playa Larga: 4 (21/3). Cayo Coco: (23/3), 2 (26/3).
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violacea
Cayo Coco: A single adult (26/3) roosting at the edge of the lake near in front of the major hotels. Woke up around 17:00 and flew to th opposite side of the lake to feed.
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Soplillar: 1 (19/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3).
White Ibis Eudocimus albus
Bermejas: 20+ (21/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3) at the lake opposite Flamingo Beach.
Roseate Spoonbill Ajaia ajaja
Cayo Coco: 2 (24/3) and 2 (23/3) at the lake opposite Flamingo Beach.
Wood Stork Mycteria americana
Playa Larga: A single (21/3) seen distantly flying over. Cayo Coco: 1 (26/3) at the lake opposite Flamingo Beach.
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Abundant throughout. The commonest bird in Cuba. Up to 100 recorded daily.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
Najasa: 3 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (25/3).
Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis
Morón: 2 over the reservoir east of town (25/3).
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
Turba: 1 (19/3).
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus
Bermejas: 1 (21/3).
Gundlach's Hawk Accipiter gundlachi
Soplillar: 1 (19/3).
Cuban Black Hawk Buteogallus (anthracinus) gundlachii
Playa Larga: 1 (18/3) at a roadside pool. Cayo Coco: 3 (26/3) all the marshy area of the western side of Cayo Coco along the road to Cayo Guillermo.
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
La Güira: 2 (17/3).
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Soroa: 1 (15/3). La Güira: 1 (16/3).
Crested Caracara Caracara plancus
Playa Larga: 1 (18/3). Bermejas: 1 (21/3). Cayo Coco: 1-2 daily (23-26/3).
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Fairly widely distributed, with a few most days. Commonest on Cayo Coco.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Soplillar: 1 (19/3).
Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus
Morón: 1 (25/3) flying across the road near the crane site to the east of Morón.
King Rail Rallus elegans
Turba: A single heard (20/3).
Sora Porzana carolina
Turba: A single heard (19/3).
Zapata Rail Cyanolimnas cerverai
Turba: At least 2 heard (19/3). One bird incredibly close, but still not visible.
Spotted Rail Pardirallus maculatus
Turba: Two singles heard and one in flight (19/3).
American Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinicus
Turba: A single heard (19/3) and another (20/3).
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Playa Larga: 9 (19/3), 2 (20/3). Turba: 10 (19/3). Bermejas: 1 (21/3). Najasa: 2 (22/3). Morón: 50+ at the reservoir east of town (25/3).
American Coot Fulica americana
Najasa: 4 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 12 (23/3). 100+ (25/3).
Limpkin Aramus guarauna
Turba: 2 (19/3). Bermejas: 2 (21/3).
Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa
Turba: 4 (19/3). Najasa: 10 (22/3).
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
Najasa: 2 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 25 (23/3), 2 (24/3).
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
Cayo Coco: 6 (23/3), 1 (24/3).
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria
Playa Larga: 1 (21/3).
Spotted Sandpiper Tringa macularia
Cayo Coco: 1 (26/3).
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Cayo Coco: Up to 10 daily (23-26/3).
Sanderling Calidris alba
Cayo Coco: 10 (23/3).
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3). 20 (26/3).
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
Cayo Coco: 10 (23/3). 3 (26/3).
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Cayo Coco: 1 (25/3). 1 (26/3).
Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
Cayo Coco: 15 (25/3).
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Bermejas: 1 (21/3). Cayo Coco: 4 (23/3), 2 (25/3), 4 (26/3).
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Cayo Coco: 2 adults (24/3).
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla
Cayo Coco: Up to 20 daily (23-26/3).
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
Najasa: 1 (22/3).
Royal Tern Sterna maxima
Cayo Coco: Up to 10 daily (23-26/3).
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3), 4 (24/3), 2 (25/3)..
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia
Surprisingly few. Two individuals en route (17/3). Najasa: 1 (22/3).
White-crowned Pigeon Columba leucocephala
Widespread and fairly common. Soroa: 3 (15/3). Playa Larga: Recorded daily with max. 10. Cayo Coco: Up to 50 daily.
Scaly-naped Pigeon Columba squamosa
Soroa: A single (15/3) seen from the Mirador.
Plain Pigeon Columba inornata
Najasa: 2 (22/3).
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Widespread and fairly common. Recorded on most days with max 10 Playa Larga (17/3).
Zenaida Dove Zenaida aurita
La Güira: 2 (16/3). Punta Perdiz: 4 (18/3). Pálpite: 2 (19/3), 2 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 2 (26/3).
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
La Güira: 10 (16/3), 10 (17/3). Playa Larga: 4 (17/3). Bermejas: 4 (21/3). Najasa: 4 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (26/3). Cayo Guillermo: 2 (26/3).
Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
Fairly common throughout. Recorded daily in small numbers, with the exception of Soroa, where not seen.
Grey-headed Quail-Dove Geotrygon caniceps
Soplillar: 1 (18/3). Pálpite: 2 (19/3),
Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana
Soroa: 4 (15/3), 2 (16/3). La Güira: 2 (7/3).
Blue-headed Quail-Dove Starnoenas cyanocephala
One of the more stunning birds of the trip. Soroa: 1 (15/3) and 1 (16/3) both seen briefly along the Mirador track. Soplillar: 1 heard (18/3). Punta Perdiz: 2 (18/3). Pálpite: 3 (19/3).
Cuban Parakeet Aratinga euops
Only seen at Najasa: 20+ in 3-4 small groups throughout the morning.
Cuban Parrot Amazona leucocephala
Soplillar: 3 (18/3). Pálpite: 2 heard (20/3).
Great Lizard-Cuckoo Saurothera merlini
Widespread and fairly common and easily seen, with up to 3 daily. Recorded at each site, though least common on Cayo Coco.
Smooth-billed Ani Crotophaga ani
Widespread and fairly common, with max. 10 daily. Not recorded at Soroa.
Barn Owl Tyto alba
Cayo Coco: One bird observed feeding along the banks of the causeway about halfway across from the mainland. As the bird could effectively go nowhere we were able to obtain excellent views as it passed up and down the narrow causeway.
Bare-legged Owl Gymnoglaux lawrencii
Soplillar: A single (18/3) at a nest hole, shown to us by El Chino.
Cuban Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium siju
Soroa: 3+ (15/3) in the large trees of the hotel grounds, must have been the easiest owl lifer we've ever had. Soplillar: 2 heard (17/3). Pálpite: 1 (18/3), 2 heard (19/3). Turba: 1 heard (20/3). Najasa: 2 heard (22/3).
Stygian Owl Asio stygius
Playa Larga: 1 (17/3) in the grounds of the Playa Larga hotel. Apparently easy there after 21:00 each night, and it was certainly easy on this particular evening as we simply walked up to it in the tree in the centre of the grounds.
Cuban Nightjar Caprimulgus cubanensis
Playa Larga: 2 heard (18/3). Turba: 4 heard (19/3), and one seen on the track early morning (20/3). Playa Larga: 3 (21/3) en route to Bermejas before light. Cayo Coco: 3 (24/3) presumed to be this species.
Antillean Palm-Swift Tachornis phoenicobia
La Güira: 1 (16/3). Bermejas: 1 (21/3).
Cuban Emerald Chlorostilbon ricordii
Common and widespread. Recorded daily with max. 6 (15/3) at Soroa.
Bee Hummingbird Mellisuga helenae
Due to the previous hurricane damage we were rather concerned that we would miss this species. However, a few pairs had started to appear a couple of months before we arrived. Playa Larga: 1 (17/3). Soplillar: 1 (18/3). Pálpite: 1 (19/3), 1 (20/3).
Cuban Trogon Priotelus temnurus
Common and widespread in western part of Cuba. Commonest at Soroa and La Güira, where 10+ daily. A few daily in the Playa Larga areas. Not recorded at Najasa or Cayo Coco.
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Soplillar: 1 (19/3). Turba: 2 (20/3). Bermejas: 2 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 1-2 daily (22-26/3)
Cuban Tody Todus multicolor
One of our favourite species of the trip. Soroa: 10+ (15/3), 10 (16/3). La Güira: 10 (16/3), 15+ (17/3). Soplillar: 2 (17/3), 4 (18/3). Punta Perdiz: 2 (18/3). Pálpite: 4 (19/3), 2 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 4 (26/3).
West Indian Woodpecker Melanerpes superciliaris
Soroa: 6 (15/3), 2 (16/3). La Güira: 4 (16/3), 2 (17/3). Soplillar: 2 (17/3), 2 (18/3). Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Najasa: 2 (22/3).
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Pálpite: 1 (19/3).
Cuban Woodpecker Xiphidiopicus percussus
Soroa: 2 (16/3). La Güira: 4 (16/3), 2 (17/3). Soplillar: 2 (17/3), 4 (18/3). Punta Perdiz: 2 (18/3). Pálpite: 2 (19/3). Bermejas: 1 (20/3), 1 (21/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3), 3 (26/3).
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Soplillar: 1 heard (17/3). Morón: 1 (22/3).
Fernandina's Flicker Colaptes fernandinae
Soplillar: 2 (17/3), 3 (18/3), 1 (19/3). Bermejas: 1 (21/3).
Crescent-eyed Pewee Contopus caribaeus
Soroa: 1 (15/3), 2 (16/3). La Güira: 2 (17/3). Soplillar: 3 (18/3). Pálpite: 2 (19/3). Turba: 2 heard (20/3). Bermejas: 3 heard (20/3). Najasa: 2 heard (22/3). Cayo Coco: 2 (23/3), 1 (24/3), 2 heard (26/3).
La Sagra's Flycatcher Myiarchus sagrae
Soroa: 4 (15/3), 4 (16/3). La Güira: 2 (16/3). Soplillar: 4 (18/3). Punta Perdiz: 2 (18/3). Pálpite: 4 (19/3), 2 (20/3). Turba: 4 (20/3). Bermejas: 4 (21/3). Cayo Coco: 4 (26/3). According to the field guide this species "leans" from its perch and has a "flat-headed" appearance. Surprisingly we never observed any individual leaning as illustrated, and only once did we see a bird looking flat-headed. Invariably, those we saw had a regular "Jimmy Hendrix" hair style - nothing like as illustrated.
Grey Kingbird Tyrannus dominicensis
Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3) at the lake opposite Flamingo Beach. As this is a summer visitor we did not expect to see this species.
Loggerhead Kingbird Tyrannus caudifasciatus
Common and widespread. Recorded almost daily, with max. 6 (21/3) at Bermejas.
Giant Kingbird Tyrannus cubensis
Najasa: 1 (21/3) in the field opposite the cemetery. Observed again on (22/3).
Palm Crow Corvus palmarum
Najasa: 2 (21/3), 8+ (22/3). This species is easy to identify at this time of year, as it is very vocal while breeding. Outside of the breeding season getting to grips with the identification must be very tricky, although after studying them a while you can recognise differences in shape and flight.
Cuban Crow Corvus nasicus
This bird was not as plentiful as we had expected. Playa Larga: 4 (18/3), 10 (19/3), 10 (20/3). Najasa: 25 (21/3), 20 (22/3).
Cuban Vireo Vireo gundlachii
Soroa: 1 (15/3). La Güira: 1 (17/3). Punta Perdiz: 1 (19/3) Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Cayo Coco: 3 (23/3), 6 (26/3).
Thick-billed Vireo Vireo crassirostris
Cayo Romano: 4 (24/3).
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
Cayo Coco: 1 (24/3).
Black-whiskered Vireo Vireo altiloquus
Soroa: 2+ (15/3), 4+ (16/3). La Güira: 2 (16/3), 4 (7/3). Soplillar: 2 heard (18/3). Pálpite: 4 (19/3).
Cuban Solitaire Myadestes elisabeth
Easier heard than seen. Soroa: 4 heard (15/3), 3 heard and 1 seen (16/3). La Güira: 3 heard (16/3), 3+ heard (17/3).
Red-legged Thrush Turdus plumbeus
Common and widespread. Commonest around Playa Larga where up to 20 daily.
Grey Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
La Güira: 1 (16/3), 3 (17/3). Pálpite: 3 (19/3). Turba: 1 (19/3), 1 (20/3). Soplillar: 2 (20/3). Bermejas: 2 (21/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (26/3).
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Common and widespread.
Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachii
Cayo Guillermo: 2 (26/3) about 2 km from the western end of the island.
Zapata Wren Ferminia cerverai
Turba: 1 (19/3) singing, seen well but briefly before we had to rush from the swamp.
Cuban Gnatcatcher Polioptila lembeyei
Cayo Coco: Pair (23/3) in roadside scrub just before Cueva de Jabali.
Cuban Martin Progne cryptoleuca
Soplillar: 2 (18/3).
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Turba: 100+ (17/3), 60 (19/3). Bermejas: 14 (21/3). Najasa: 4 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 20 (25/3).
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Najasa: 1 (22/3). Cayo Coco: 3 (25/3), 3 (26/3).
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Scarce. Four en route (17/3) and 10 (24/3).
Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina
La Güira: 1 (17/3).
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata
Cayo Coco: 1 (26/3).
Northern Parula Parula americana
Soroa: 1 (16/3). Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Bermejas: 1 (21/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (22/3), 1 (23/3), 1 (26/3).
Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia
Pálpite: 1 (19/3).
Cape May Warbler Dendroica tigrina
Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3), 3 (26/3).
Black-throated Blue Warbler Dendroica caerulescens
Soroa: 2 (15/3), 1 (16/3). Pálpite: 2 (19/3). Turba: 1 (20/3). Bermejas: 1 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (24/3), 2 (26/3).
Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens
Soroa: 2 (15/3), 1 (16/3). Punta Perdiz: 2 (19/3). Pálpite: 1 (19/3).
Yellow-throated Warbler Dendroica dominica
Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3).
Olive-capped Warbler Dendroica pityophila
La Güira: 12 (16/3), 6 (17/3).
Prairie Warbler Dendroica discolor
Soplillar: 1 (18/3). Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3), 2 (24/3), 3 (26/3).
Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum
Fairly common and widespread. Max. 10+ (26/3) Cayo Coco. Not recorded at Soroa.
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
La Güira: 1 (17/3). Pálpite: 1 (19/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (24/3).
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Fairly common and widespread. Recorded in small number almost daily.
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapillus
Small numbers in forested areas daily.
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
Pálpite: 1 (19/3), (20/3). Cayo Coco: 2 (2/3).
Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla
Soroa: 1 (15/3) on the weir by the restaurant.
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
La Güira: 1 (16/3). Playa Larga: 1 (18/3). Turba: 1 (20/3), 1 (21/3). Bermejas: 1 (20/3), 3 (21/3). Pálpite: 1 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (26/3).
Yellow-headed Warbler Teretistris fernandinae
Common at Soroa, La Güira and around Playa Larga, with up to 10 daily.
Oriente Warbler Teretistris fornsi
Cayo Coco: 10 (23/3), 6 (24/3), 22 (26/3).
Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina
La Güira: 1 (17/3). Pálpite: 1 (19/3), 1 (20/3).
Zapata Sparrow Torreornis inexpectata
Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3), 6 (26/3).
Western Stripe-headed Tanager Spindalis zena
Soroa: 2 (15/3), 4 (16/3). La Güira: 10 (16/3), 6 (17/3). Pálpite: 1 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (23/3), 2 (24/3), 6 (26/3).
Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus
Soroa: 1 (15/3). La Güira: 6 (16/3), 4 (17/3). Pálpite: 1 (20/3).
Cuban Bullfinch Melopyrrha nigra
Small numbers at most localities.
Cuban Grassquit Tiaris canora
Najasa: 4 (21/3) in the cemetery.
Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivacea
Widespread and common, with max. 10 daily. Not recorded at Soroa.
Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena
Soroa: 2 (16/3). La Güira: 2 (16/3). Turba: 1 (19/3).
Greater Antillean Oriole Icterus dominicensis
Soroa: 1 (15/3). La Güira: 1 (17/3). Turba: 2 (20/3). Bermejas: 1 (20/3). Cayo Coco: 1 (24/3).
Cuban Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius assimilis
Turba: 2 (19/3). Bermejas: 1+ (20/3), 8 (21/3).
Tawny-shouldered Blackbird Agelaius humeralis
Small numbers daily around Playa Larga. Soroa: 1 (15/3). Najasa: 6 (22/3).
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna
Najasa: 1 (22/3). Morón: 6 (22/3).
Cuban Blackbird Dives atroviolacea
Soroa: 1 (15/3). La Güira: 6 )16/3), 6 (17/3). Playa Larga: 4 (17/3). Bermejas: 2+ (21/3). Najasa: 4 (22/3).
Greater Antillean Grackle Quiscalus niger
Widespread and very common.
Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis
Soplillar: 2 (18/3), 2 (20/3). Bermejas: 4 (20/3), 4 (21/3). Najasa: 6 (22/3).